Of course, not every IP can promise to produce a good return on
investment. Chen sees screening and identifying potentially effective
research projects as a part of the challenge for PKU’s experts. The key
is to allocate funds on specific projects early on, to prove if the
technology is useful.
It’s important to note that China’s regional governments are better
known for nursing economic “bubbles” that eventually blow up, rather
than supporting real industrial development around technology projects
like solar and LED. Chen acknowledged that various regional governments
competing for early-stage funding in solar and LED are responsible for
the now-notorious solar bubble in China.
“We need to bring in a more balanced view on emerging technology,” he said.
Chen, however, quickly added, “But I must say that a ‘bubble’ is, in a
way, the only way for the sector to grow. Without it, it’s harder to get
Recalling his country’s recent history, Chen said, “China is going
through enormous changes now — from years of a planned economy to what
can be deemed a chaotic economy based on technology/market innovation,”
he noted. “It’s not easy.”
Asked about potential projects PKU is currently looking at for the open
technology platform, Chen cited IC development tools for medical
instruments. He also mentioned German photonics technology that can be
used for applications for lighting and communication. He said China can
leverage U.S. technology for water filtering and waste water management
applications, and that “smart city” projects can be developed from the
use of advanced sensors to expand surveillance.
Chen has been on his roadshow meeting with regional government officials
and executives from local industries, whom he describes as very
cooperative. The goal is to match-make between local needs and
technologies from overseas. Chen, however, stressed, “The most important
of all in this entrepreneurial process is a management team who are not
only bilingual, but bi-cultural. They’re the ones who can eventually
bring the technology to market.”
Honestly, I fairly enjoy the statement, “But I must say that a ‘bubble’ is, in a way, the only way for the sector to grow. Without it, it’s harder to get more funding.”
Bubble is inevitable in Market Economy. Professor Chen honestly puts it to be an incentive for capital investment.
In today's global economy, ability to communicate in multi-cultural environment is a crucial skill. Professor Chen hits the point quite well - "not only bilingual but also bi-cultural". Chinese studying/ working in US might be a good choice. Question is what is the incentive program to attract these talents.
On the other hands, the detail of protecting the IP has to be layout properly and agreed between 2+ universities.
Hi Junko, quite interesting read, thank you!
I have to question the premise of proliferating western IP in China as stated in: "connect Western IPs with capital and markets in China." Seems to me that this is not a major setback for US/Western IP generated in the universities. A good majority of the funded research on which IP is generated is funded by the governments and has many restrictions on release to foreign governments. Commercially funded ones are already monetized by the sponsoring companies -often maximized by manufacturing overseas including China!
Of course I agree it could be maximized by what Prof. Chen aspires to do. I hope his efforts bear fruit.
And I have to echo @chanj's comment above -communicating in a multicultural setting is a work-in-progress!
Hi Junko, one more thing... isn't Prof. Chen's efforts also better served if he can find a model for technology transfer for the IP generated in China to industries worldwide, not just the west? It would be something other developing economies can emulate...
I think the fact is that many universities -- whether in the West or in China do have a lot of IPs that are NOT monetizd. Some are probably not worth much but others do languish without proper home.
I think an active effort such as this one could be helpful for both the West and the East. But of course, as you also pointed out, there are always human factors...being bilingual and bicultural is not as easy as it sounds.
@resistion: I agree, the underlying assumption to my comments above is that persons like Prof. Chen are capable of making that assessment in offering a monetize-able IP portfolio to the industry. Many universities in fact hire professionals from the industry to lead technology transfer program.
So how does one square this article with the more recent one titled "Forget fighting Chinese counterfeiting," by Brian Fuller? Simply saying that protecting IP rights is the goal of the Chinese government hardly solves the problem, apparently, according to lot that's been reported lately.
It seems to me that it's 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. You either don't monetize it in the West, due to this suppose lack of VC funds, or you ship it off to China and see it being blatantly copied there.
Why wouldn't we expect western universities to conclude this as well?
the professor has a strange philosophy: since i am going to rape you, why dont you become my concubine and make it legal or permanent? what has this country become? didn't china invent a lot things, compass, gun powder, printing and paper. where is the fucking self-esteem. professor? yak.
Monetizing IPs are extremely tedious and difficult process. For most academic researchers, their pay-offs are their name on the paper they've submitted to conference. Once the papers ware accepted in the conferences, their job is done. Who's going to fill the gaps between here and there...