BEIJING – China is big. China is not homogeneous. It has a poor record of protecting intellectual property. But it also has plenty of government funding at the central, provincial and municipal levels to go along with a massive domestic market for new technologies and products.
Add up the pluses and minuses and the Chinese market is a mixed bag.
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So far, only a few Western companies and universities have managed to navigate China’s IP minefield to form successful partnerships and grab market share. “China is complicated,” Dongmin Chen, dean in Peking University’s (PKU) School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, noted during a recent interview with EE Times.
That’s where Chen enters the picture.
Dongmin Chen in his Peking University office.
Chen, who also directs the university’s office of science and technology development, is the force behind new initiative called “Open Innovation Platform.” The idea is to match up “Chinese [venture capital] that can’t find projects” with “universities or startup IPs [Western or Chinese] that can’t find capital,” explained Chen, a former serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur who also headed Harvard’s Quantum Device Physics Lab for 15 years.
If successful, the initiative could have far-reaching implications for China’s high-tech sector, where companies, universities and government agencies seeking more technology transfers from the West have been stymied by China’s weak record on IP protection.
Chen is putting PKU’s and his professional reputation on the line in confronting the IP issue. His goal is to use the open platform initiative to demonstrate China’s commitment to IP rights.
a recent forum here
, Chen openly disagreed with an official of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology who asserted that “borrowed, digested and reinvented innovation” based on foreign technologies is a legitimate option for China. Chen replied that such an option “is viewed as infringement of [IP rights] in other countries.”
Chen knows IP protection is one of China’s biggest shortcomings. The Open Innovation Platform specifically addressed that reality, and China hopes it will eventually encourage technology transfer to China based on international agreements.