Big Data Summit in Beijing

Last Friday (June 14) NOST went to the 2013 Innovation Summit on Big Data, which was held at the Beijing International Convention Center.

When datasets become too large to be stored and analyzed by traditional database-management tools and software, these datasets and the technologies surrounding them are nowadays referred to as ‘Big Data’.

The topic attracted quite a crowd, but it is doubtful that all the presentations were useful for the audience. Somehow it seemed difficult for the speakers to give input on Big Data outside of their own scope of work. Two speakers caught our attention with their speech. The first one was Liang Sheng, deputy director of Beijing Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology. He stated that R&D government funding for Big Data companies was available, but that entrepreneurs should be able to show him who would be the customers of their Big Data tools and services. His speech went beyond the usual general opening remarks, and raised the bar for companies that were thinking about applying for government support. Just describing a project as ‘big data’, ‘cloud technology’ or ‘SaaS’ doesn’t necessarily make it eligible.

The second speaker that we want to mention is a data scientist from Alibaba, Tao Yang. Apparently they have patented certain algorithms, partially inspired by how Google ranks pages. This is interesting because the patentability of algorithms is somewhat disputed in China. But besides this observation, it became clear from the content of his presentation that Alibaba has hired some good data scientists and is digging for gold in all the data that Alibaba has acquired over the years. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that they created a data-platform division with about 800 employees (source: Caixin).

During various discussions several entrepreneurs made statements that getting useful data from mobile users was difficult. Incorrectly configured phones and lack of standards were given as reasons.

The event made it clear that Big Data is a hot topic in China, but at the same time many companies seem to struggle with what Big Data really is and what it can mean for their industry. Many companies will not have large enough datasets to make real use of Big Data and are overestimating this technology trend. While others are underestimating the effects of Big Data and the implications it will have for industries and consumers alike.

BigDataBigBuildings The 2013 Innovation Summit on Big Data was co-hosted by China America Innovation Network (CHAIN), Beijing Association for Science & Technology (BAST) and

Excellent Students Awarded with Orange Tulip Scholarships

Last Saturday, the Netherlands Embassy hosted the Awarding Ceremony for Scholarship winner of the Orange Tulip Scholarship (OTS) Programme which was organized by Neso China and NOST China for the fifth consecutive year. This year’s ceremony was held for over 30 OTS recipients and their relatives who attend the event at the Netherlands Embassy in Beijing.


After his word of welcome, Deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands to China Mr. Andre Driessen presented an award to the Nyenrode University scholarship recipient. Mr. Driessen is also an alumnus from Nyenrode University. In total, 14 excited and talented scholarship winners were present to receive the scholarships from representatives of Dutch universities.

The Orange Tulip Scholarship Programme was launched in 2008 by Neso China. It aims to create more opportunities for talented Chinese students to study in the Netherlands and make Dutch higher education accessible to more Chinese students.

Every year Chinese students are selected to receive a full or partial tuition fee waiver, or a contribution to their living costs provided by OTS sponsors, mainly universities. The overall value of the 2013/14 OTS programme is around 4 million Yuan (438.000 euro). More information about OTS can be found here.



More Chinese Research Papers Published in Nature Journals

The Nature Publishing Index 2012 (NPI) China was released by Nature Asia last month. The NPI measures the output of research articles from nations and institutions in terms of publications in the 18 Nature-branded primary research journals in 2012. The index showed China’s growing importance in world science and listed 4 institutions in the world top 100. The total number of papers published by China-based authors grew by 35 per cent compared to 2011.

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The report, published as a supplement to Nature, showed that authors from institutions in China contributed 8.5 percent, or 303 papers, of all research papers published in Nature branded journals in 2012. This means a considerable increase compared to the 7.0 per cent in 2011 and 5.3 per cent in 2010. In 2000, only six articles with co-authors from China were published in Nature branded journals.

The top two institutions in China remain stable from 2011 to 2012: the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) followed by the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), which is also managed by the CAS. Tsinghua University, Peking University, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) complete the top five with Tsinghua surpassing its rival Peking University. The leading scientific publisher in China remains the conglomerate of over 100 CAS institutes that showed an increase of 50% of papers which gave them the 12th position in the global ranking.

The 2012 NPI also showed that China proved strong in the field of life sciences. China ranked first Asia in five Nature-branded journals: “Nature Biotechnology,” “Nature Cell Biology,” “Nature Genetics,” “Nature Structural & Molecular Biology” and “Nature Methods.” Other strong fields were Physics and Chemistry.

NPI2 copy

The Nature Publishing Index 2012 China supplement also presents a ranking by city. Beijing continues to dominate, followed by Shanghai, Hefei, Hong Kong and Wuhan.

You can download the entire supplement from the following link.

Dutch geo-info exploring China

GIN magazineHave a look at this interesting report (in Dutch only) on the Dutch geo-information mission that visited China earlier this year. Main finding: “The visit gives reason for cautious optimism. China offers opportunities for partnerships. The Dutch geo-info sector should focus on joint activities of between science, education, and industry. Collaboration can lead to new combinations of hardware and software, knowledge and applications.”

The article has been published in the periodical of the Dutch association of geo-information companies, GIN.

Shanghai Government Stimulates International Cooperation in S&T Innovation

The International Cooperation Programme of the Shanghai S&T Innovation Action Plan aims to enhance international S&T cooperation and open innovation, and accelerate S&T development and independent innovation capability of Shanghai. The programme managed by the S&T commission of the Shanghai Municipal government is divided into three sections: programme between enterprises, between governments and between academic institutions.

The focus areas for enterprises include:

  • biomedicine
  • 3D printing
  • civil aviation electromechanical systems
  • new technology services and digital TV technology
  • high-performance fibres
  • energy conservation
  • green technology

The budget for project proposals is no more than 2 million RMB per project. Priority will be given to joint projects between enterprises and scientific research institutions, and the innovation research project jointly developed by certified foreign R&D centres and the enterprises.

The programme between governments will focuses on the following areas:

  • health informatics
  • metabolic diseases
  • wireless sensing technology
  • research and production of low-cost high performance catalysts.

Budget for government tot government projects is considerably less (max. 50,000 RMB). The budget for projects between academic institutions is limited to 30,000 RMB per project.

All applications need to be submitted online by Chinese applicants via a Chinese website. Application deadline is 30 June, 2013. You can find more information about this programme here.