David Frederick's | iAIR BLOG

Consulting, Innovation, Strategy, Vision, Education, & Ideation

China ‘to overtake US on science’ in two years

As many of you who have followed my blog know, I am very skeptical of China politically and economically which is why I find this latest article from the BBC interesting. In it, the BBC asserts based on a report from the Royal Society, an eminent organization, that China is on course to overtake the US in scientific output possibly as soon as 2013 – far earlier than expected.

What the BBC and the Royal Society dont mention with clarity is that they are basing their “output” measure on “white papers” and other technical documentation. The output of White Paper’s and technical documents is not the true measure of one’s scientific or innovation leadership. Particularly with the Chinese who are know to steal, copy and plagerize just about anything they can get their hands on. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Russians.

What is note worthy is that I don’t believe China currently posses the “innovation gene”…yet. Where the U.S. has this as part of our DNA. This is why the U.S has been the worlds leader in innovation, science and technology advances for two centuries. What does this mean in regards to China? Well, I believe they will find new and different ways to innovate, acquiring their own “Innovation Gene”.  As long as the U.S., EU, Japan, and others outsource their manufacturing to China, the Chinese will eventually figure out how to innovate through a method called Lead User Innovation (for more on this search MIT Professor Eric Von Hipple).

Will China be a bigger player in the innovation of new technologies, scientific advances, etc….. yup. Maybe not in 5 years or even 1o. But the Chinese are smart, resourceful, adept and willing to learn and grow. More importantly, they have the financial and political systems in place to hit innovation really hard over the next 25 years.

Probably the most important issue when looking at the Chinese and their innovation growth potential is that they are patient. They can afford to wait and do it right. Through decades of practical and effective reverse engineering, the Chinese will acquire the skills they need to start applying process frameworks to their ideas and then China will be a major player in both development and manufacturing. This will cause huge financial, technological, political, geopolitical, economic, military and product development issues for the rest of world.

The writing is on the wall for the rest of the world. Step up and get moving or get plowed over by China.  No one should under estimate the potential the Chinese have to compete on the global stage of ideas. Its not enough for just MIT, Harvard,  Stanford, and other research universities to carry the weight of scientific output and innovation leadership. We need a culture of innovation and the means and diverse resources to continue to lead, otherwise we will find ourselves in perpetual catch up mode. Check out the BBC article here!

-DF

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Written by David Frederick

March 29, 2011 at 1:37 PM

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