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Handbook

for European Researchers


DRAGON-STAR
SUSTAINING TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH (EU-CHINA COLLABORATION)

Handbook for European Researchers


DRAGON-STAR
SUSTAINING TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH (EU-CHINA COLLABORATION)

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Handbook for European Researchers


DRAGON-STAR
SUSTAINING TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH (EU-CHINA COLLABORATION)

1. OVERVIEW OF CHINESE S&T POLICIES .................................................................................................................... 1


2. WHAT SUPPORT SCHEMES/PROGRAMMES FOR INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION ARE AVAILABLE? ................. 3
3. WHAT TRAINING PROGRAMMES SUPPORTING S&T INNOVATION ARE AVAILABLE? ............................................. 4
4. WHAT ARE THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS OF THE CHINESE FUNDING SYSTEM? .................................................... 6
5. WHAT ARE THE CRITICAL ISSUES FOR EUROPEAN RESEARCHERS TO APPLY FOR CHINESE FUNDING
PROGRAMMES? .......................................................................................................................................................... 7
6. RECOMMENDATIONS TO EUROPEAN RESEARCHERS ............................................................................................. 8
REFERENCES .............................................................................................................................................................. 10

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Handbook for European Researchers


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SUSTAINING TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH (EU-CHINA COLLABORATION)

1. OVERVIEW OF CHINESE S&T POLICIES


China is currently one of the main players in the economic and financial environment, mainly due to the fact that
it is considered to be a key driver of the worlds economy, the extent of its productive sector and the large
number of reserves that it holds.1
The country ranks 29th out of 143 countries in the Global Innovation Index with relative strengths in reading,
mathematics, and science, firms offering formal training, creative goods exports and Gross Domestic Expenditure
on R&D (GERD) financed by business enterprise, among others. Concerning the relative weaknesses, press
freedom, the regulatory environment, GERD financed from abroad and Environmental performance are included.2
Having a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 8.524 trillion USD (approx. 6.969 trillion Euros3) in 2013, China has
been witnessing a GDP growth of more than 7% per year, mainly focusing on the industry and services sector.4
Chinas GERD has more than doubled from 2005 to 2010, becoming in 2009 the second largest country after the
United States. GERD has reached more than 2% of Chinas GDP in 2013.5

In order to accelerate the transformation of the Chinese economy to a more productivity-driven, knowledge
based economy, the Chinese government made considerable efforts to improve the S&T and innovation
capabilities through a series of strategic plans.

Medium and Long Term S&T Development Plan 2006-2020 (MLP)6,7


The objective of the plan is to transform China into an innovative society by 2020. Indigenous Innovation is highly
encouraged by stimulating high R&D investment in industries, supporting the establishment of R&D centres and
government procurement of high-tech products and services. The Plan also defined the following four indicators
used to assess the achievement by 2020:
-

R&D as a percentage of GDP greater than 2.5%;

The contribution of S&T activities to economic growth to be at least 60%;

Less than 30% reliance on foreign technologies;

A rank among the world top five countries in terms of scientific publication citations and patenting.

China Ficha de Mercado, AICEP Portugal Global, 2013


http://www.globalinnovationindex.org/content.aspx?page=data-analysis,last accessed in December, 2014
3
All amounts in EURO in this document are calculated based on the following USD: EUR exchange rate: 0.722. Source: Oanda.
http://www.oanda.com/lang/pt/currency/converter/,last accessed in December 2014
4
http://news.163.com/14/0120/09/9J1ACFAT0001124J.html, last accessed in December, 2014
5
http://news.hexun.com/2014-10-24/169672151.html, last accessed in December, 2014
6
Medium and Long Term S&T Development Plan 2006-2020, State Council, http://www.gov.cn/jrzg/2006-02/09/content_183787.htm (in
Chinese). Last accessed in December 2014.
7
Medium and Long Term S&T Development Plan 2006-2020, summary information, ERAWATCH (in English).
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National Medium- and Long-term Plan for Building Key Science and Technology Infrastructure (2012 - 2030)
China also outlined its policy to improve its research infrastructure through the plan of National Medium- and
Long-term Plan for Building Key Science and Technology Infrastructure (2012 - 2030)8,9. This plan aims to
improve the research infrastructure in seven strategic fields: energy, life science, earth system and environment,
materials, particle physics and nuclear physics, space and astronomy, and engineering technology. The research
infrastructures are to be opened to foreigners to promote international collaboration.
In addition, the plan proposed 16 major R&D infrastructure projects until 2015: seabed scientific observation
network, validation device for the high-energy synchrotron radiation light source, an accelerator-driven
transmutation research facility, a comprehensive experimental facility for extreme conditions, an intense
heavy-ion accelerator, efficient and low-carbon gas turbine test equipment, a high-altitude cosmic ray
observatory, a future network test facility, a ground simulator for space environment, a translational medicine
research facility, a south pole observatory, a high-precision gravity measurement facility, a large-scale low-speed
wind tunnel, a SSRF beam-line station, a model animal phenotype and heredity research facility, and a numerical
simulator for earth systems.

Technological Revolution and China's Future-Innovation 2050


Technological Revolution and China's Future-Innovation 205010, published by the Chinese Academy Sciences
(CAS), presented a roadmap for China's science and technology development until 2050. The report is composed
of one general strategic report and 17 sub-reports that are related with the 17 specific fields such as population
and health, minerals and resources, space and ocean, information, material, ecology and environment.
Researchers from CAS believe that a new technological and industrial revolution featured by green energy,
artificial intelligence and sustainable development is most likely to take place in the next 10 to 20 years. In the
report, CAS emphasized the following eight social economic systems backed-up by science and technology
innovation: sustainable energy and resources system, new material and green manufacture system, information
networking system, ecological higher value agriculture and bio-industry system, health insurance system, ecology
and environment preservation and development system, space and ocean system, national and public security
system.

National Medium- and Long-term Plan for Building Key Science and Technology Infrastructure (2012 - 2030), State Council, 2013,
http://most.gov.cn/yw/201303/t20130306_99983.htm (in Chinese): Last accessed in December 2014
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National Medium- and Long-term Plan for Building Key Science and Technology Infrastructure (2012 - 2030), Summary, ERAWATCH.
10
Technological
Revolution
and
China's
Future-Innovation
2050,
Chinese
Academy
of
Science,
June
10,
2009,
http://english.bic.cas.cn/NE/200906/t20090619_7263.html: Last accessed in December 2014.

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Besides these policies and programmes, the Chinese government is also focusing on creating an impact on the
world stage through the production of quality academic papers written in English. In 2013, MoST released the
Guidelines for the 2014 National S&T fund on publishing S&T works. In 2013, China accounted for almost 18%
(compared to 4% in 2002) of the total share of world output regarding the number of scientific papers. 11

2. WHAT SUPPORT SCHEMES/PROGRAMMES FOR INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION


ARE AVAILABLE?
Several programmes for international collaboration have been launched over the past years in China. The Chinese
government has been investing in its S&T infrastructure through the opening of international collaboration
programmes between European countries and China.

International S&T Cooperation Programme (ISTCP)12
The International S&T Cooperation Programme (ISTCP) aims to support Chinese scientists in international
research activities, cooperation projects launched under China's multilateral and bilateral S&T agreements with
other countries. Within this programme, a special scheme named China-EU Science and Technology Cooperation
Programme provides funding to European researchers from universities, research institutes, or enterprises as the
eligible partners of Chinese applicant.

China/UNESCO - the Great Wall Fellowship Scheme13
Funded by the Ministry of Education (MOE), China/UNESCO, the Great Wall Fellowship Scheme is a full
scholarship scheme for candidates recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO)
The fellowship covers tuition fees, monthly pay (paid by host institution), one-time settlement subsidy, health
insurance, one-off inter-city travel subsidy (domestic travel to university of destination from the nearest port). A
monthly living allowance is granted to the students through the Chinese host institution.

NSFC - International Young Scientists Fellowship14
The Programme provides fellowships for excellent international young researchers to work in a Chinese university
11

Source: Scopus - SciVerse Elsevier.


http://www.istcp.org.cn/index.html, Last accessed in December 2014
13
http://www.csc.edu.cn/studyinchina/scholarshipdetailen.aspx?cid=97&id=2051, Last accessed in December 2014
14
http://www.nsfc.gov.cn/publish/portal2/tab189, L ast accessed in December 2014
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or research institute. The eligible candidates should be recommended by the Chinese host organisation
(university or research institute). The candidates, under the age of 35, should have obtained a PhD degree and
have more than three years of basic research or post-doctoral experience. The Programme will provide funding
for the research activities and the Chinese host organizations is responsible for covering living costs, insurance,
research facilities, among others.

The Thousand International Talents Program15
The Thousand International Talents Program was published by CAS. It aims to attract foreign researchers from
leading international institutions to work in China. The applicants should be under 65 years old (non-Chinese
descendants) with strong research background and tracking records. Successful applicants will be offered
research grants of 3-5.000.000,00 RMB and a 1.000.000,00 RMB allowance from the Chinese government if they
work full-time in China for over three years.

The Einstein Professorship Programme16
Funded by Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Einstein Professorship Programme aims to encourage
international scientists who are actively working in the frontiers of science and technology to conduct
lecture-tours to China, specifically, to enhance the links between scientists in CAS and respective Einstein
Professors and to provide training to the Chinese young scientists. In each year, 20 distinguished researchers will
be awarded by the Programme.

3. WHAT TRAINING PROGRAMMES SUPPORTING S&T INNOVATION ARE AVAILABLE?


In the past 10 years, China has gradually established a national financial aid system for innovation talent through
various talent programmes sponsored by government agencies such as the NSFC, the MOE, and the CAS. In order
to build an innovation oriented country, China published its National Plan for Medium and Long-term Educational
Reform and Development (2010-2020), Medium and Long-Term Talent Development Plan (20102020), and other
funding programmes to support talents from both China and other countries.

National Plan for Medium- and Long-term Educational Reform and Development (2010-2020)17
The plan is Chinas first national plan for medium and long-term education reform and development. It provided a
15

http://english.ucas.ac.cn/JoinUs/Pages/TheThousandInternationalTalentsProgram.aspx, Last accessed in December 2014


http://english.ucas.ac.cn/JoinUs/Pages/EinsteinProfessorshipProgram.aspx, Last accessed in December 2014
17
http://www.moe.edu.cn/publicfiles/business/htmlfiles/moe/moe_2862/201010/109029.html, Last accessed in December 2014
16

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roadmap to achieve the modernization of education in the next 10 years in accordance with Chinas overall
national strategy of reform and opening to the outside.

National Outline for Medium and Long-term Talent Development Plan (2010-2020)18
The Plan aims to increase the quantity and improve the quality of talents in multi-fields and thus to significantly
enhance the comparativeness of both research activities and industry growth for a sustainable development.

Ten-thousand talents programme19
The Ten-thousand talents programme, also known as the Special Support Plan for National High Level Talents,
aims to provide more funding support to cultivate scientists in China by overcome bureaucracy in scientific
research activities in China. The 10-year program is expected to select 10.000 outstanding researchers to build a
solid foundation for the Chinas development of science and technology.

The Long-Term Thousand Talents Program and the Short-Term Thousand Talents Program20
The two plans aim to attract oversee Chinese researcher to come back to China. The ideal candidate would hold a
current professorship in a distinguished international university or an equivalent in international research
institution. The candidate should have years of oversee research experience in natural Sciences, engineering
technology or other research fields. In principle, the candidate should be under 50 years old (or under 55 years
old in exceptional cases) and is willing to take full-time position (Long-Term Thousand Talents Program) or
part-time position (Short-Term Thousand Talents Program) in a Chinese research organization. Both plans provide
the researchers significant financial support to their research activities and living allowance in China.

Hundred Talent Programme21
The "Hundred Talent Program" is one of the major measures that the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has
adopted to bring up top-quality professionals for the next century. The programme selects both candidates from
both overseas distinguished talent and domestic Talent. The qualified candidates will receive financial support to
their research activities and living allowance in China.

18

http://cfd.seu.edu.cn/jsjx_en/14/21/c7765a70689/page.htm, Last accessed in December 2014


http://africa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013-12/12/content_17168668.htm, Last accessed in December 2014
20
http://english.ucas.ac.cn/JoinUs/Pages/default.aspx, Last accessed in December 2014
21
http://english.gyig.cas.cn/ju/201202/t20120223_81675.html, Last accessed in December 2014
19

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Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Programme22


Agriculture is an important sector in China. Published in 2013 by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
(CAAS), the Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Programme (ASTIP) aims to support Long-term and
interdisciplinary research activities, enhance the capacity building, improve research support facilities and
infrastructure and foster international cooperation in agricultural industry. It addressed important agricultural
issues in China, such as breeding, animal disease control and quality standards on agricultural products.

Through the initiatives established by the Chinese government, it is clear that the training policies are focused on
S&T innovation. Besides promoting the recruitment of new young talent and global experts, Chinas strategy also
focuses on international S&T training sessions to build a sustainable economic base.

4. WHAT ARE THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS OF THE CHINESE FUNDING SYSTEM?


On October 20th, 2014, the Chinese government announced a reform plan that will change the Chinese funding
system.23 The government announcement noted that wastefulness and fragmented management has led to
overlaps and inefficient use of funds for science and technology, and the need for a unified platform for
distributing grants. According to the reform plan from Chinese government, building a public and unified National
Technology Management Platform is one of the key spot in this reform plan. A steering committee (joint meeting
mechanism) will be established and it will also involve financial department. Its main role will be to establish the
decision-making process. Moreover, professional agencies will replace government organizations to manage the
proposal assessment.

According to the plan, Chinese competitive funding will be organized into the five new programmes below:

National Natural Science Foundation: funding for basic research and scientific frontier exploration;
support talent training; connect to other funding programme to increase synergies.

National science and technology major projects: funding for national strategic product development and
industry priority.

Key national research and development programmes: funding for research and development for national
social societal challenges, industry competencies, innovation capacity and national security.

A special fund to guide technological innovation: fund that will integrate the innovation funds previous
managed by different ministries (MoST, the Ministry of Finance, and the National Development and

22

http://www.caas.cn/en/research/research_program/index.shtml, Last accessed in December 2014


http://www.most.gov.cn/ztzl/shzyczkjjhglgg/zcjd/201501/t20150107_117295.htm , Last accessed in January 2015.

23

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Reform Commission.

Special projects for talent training and S&T infrastructure: fund that will integrate the previous funds for
national key labs, national engineering technology centres, national engineering centre and other S&T
infrastructures.

The plan was started in the end of 2014 and by 2017 the new funding systems will fully replace the current ones.

5. WHAT ARE THE CRITICAL ISSUES FOR EUROPEAN RESEARCHERS TO APPLY FOR
CHINESE FUNDING PROGRAMMES?
There are a lot of issues to be considered in order to pave the way for European researchers towards receiving a
Chinese funding grant. This section presents the most critical issues and aims to provide practical
recommendations to support European researchers in applying for Chinese funding programmes.
One of the critical issues always mentioned by European researchers is that it is quite difficult to access the
Chinese funding calls information. Overall, the Chinese funding system is not well structured, or has a different
structure compared with EU funding programmes, or it is not as transparent as the EU is. In addition, although
some Chinese funding programmes are available in English, it remains challenging for European researchers to
find accurate and detailed information published in languages other than Chinese. Thus, the accessibility and
transparency of Chinese programmes are limited to those who speak Chinese or those who have collaborators
who can speak and read Chinese. For Europeans who do not understand Chinese, the language is one of the key
obstacles for information accessing.
Another critical issue is about the time frame. Limited time to prepare for the calls is a big challenge in China.
Some calls are published regularly, but many calls are officially published only a few weeks before the deadline
(often 3 to 4 weeks). Thus, potential applicants need to ensure that they make themselves aware of the calls
before they are published, and be prepared in advance to promptly react once they are available. Sometimes the
Chinese counterpart may be aware of interesting programmes and priority topics well in advance. Nevertheless,
the applicants need to keep a regular track for calls for proposals, and it would be wise to initiate the proposal
preparation long before call publication and be ready for submission when the call is made official. Also be noted
that apart from very few programmes which require applications in English or require a project summary in
English, applications must be submitted in Chinese.
The third relevant issue is related with the partnership. Having a good partnership with Chinese research
organizations is one of the most important steps towards a successful application. Generally, the lead applicant

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must be Chinese or established in China (with a few exceptions). Moreover, by lead applicant, programmes
normally mean individuals and not organisations. This means it is also very important to establish a strong
personal relationship with Chinese researchers who are influential in the relevant research field. Working with
Chinese partners seems to be a plus or even a precondition for participation. A popular term good cooperation
basis is used frequently within the calls, showing the importance of having a proven long term cooperation
between the Chinese and European researchers.

6. RECOMMENDATIONS TO EUROPEAN RESEARCHERS


Based on the brief analysis of the critical issues above, the project team provided the following recommendations
to European researchers:
-

Build up links with Chinese researchers and extend the Chinese S&T network as much as possible. This
would be helpful to understand the Chinese S&T policy and the structure of Chinese funding programmes
and funding agencies. Moreover, it helps to identify the potential funding opportunities within a specific
research field.

Take time to visit the potential Chinese partners (universities or research institutes) and let the potential
partner know about the research interests and intension for cooperation. This would help to figure out
the common research interest with your Chinese partner and be prepared to have a concept note or even
a short proposal before identifying the funding opportunity.

Keep track to the website of Chinese important funding agencies (for example, NSFC website). If
necessary, have assistance from a Chinese translator or from the potential Chinese partner. This would
help to have more time to prepare the proposal considering the short time frame.

Work with a Chinese researcher who is experienced in the joint application for the funding. For example,
most of the applications are required to be written in the Chinese language. So, it is useful to have these
written by or jointly prepared with experienced Chinese partners who can present the application in a
language that is favoured by the reviewers. The translation of a European partners contribution involves
considerable specialized effort, which may severely block the involvement of Europeans.

Understand the counterparts working culture and research environment. Any misunderstandings or
wrong pre-conceptions may result in mismatches on expectations and even mistrust from both sides.
Usually, the Chinese counterpart emphasizes more on the outputs the mutual benefit and a
win-win-situation is directly linked to the project outputs, rather than other equal terms (financial
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contribution, exchange of information, clear terms of participation, etc.) that should be ensured by both
parties. The European researchers must be fully aware of essential differences in the interpretation of
reciprocity by both parties.



























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SUSTAINING TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH (EU-CHINA COLLABORATION)

REFERENCES

Bureau of International Co-operation Chinese Academy of Sciences, http://www.bic.cas.cn/


ChinaAccess4EU Supporting the EU Access to Chinese Research and Innovation Programmes,
http://www.access4.eu/China/
China International Science and Technology Cooperation, http://www.cistc.gov.cn/
China Scholarship Council, http://www.csc.edu.cn
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, http://www.caas.cn/
Chinese Academy of Sciences, http://www.cas.ac.cn/
Hexun Finance, http://www.hexun.com/
Institute of Geochemistry Chinese Academy of Sciences, http://www.gyig.cas.cn/
International S&T Cooperation Program of China, http://www.istcp.org.cn/
Ministry of Education, China, http://www.moe.edu.cn/
Ministry of Science and Technology of the Peoples Republic of China, http://www.most.gov.cn/eng/
National Basic Research Programme (973 Programme), http://www.973.gov.cn/Default_3.aspx
National High-Tech Research and Development Programme (863 Programme), http://www.863.gov.cn/
National Natural Science Foundation of China, http://www.nsfc.gov.cn/
National Science and Technology Major Project, http://www.nmp.gov.cn/
National Technology Plan Project Application Centre, http://program.most.gov.cn/
Science, Technology and Innovation Performance of China (STI China), European Commission (DG Research and
Innovation), 2014
The Global Innovation Index 2014, http://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, http://www.ucas.ac.cn/

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