Bioclouds seminar on academic-industrial partnerships

On Thursday May 29, NOST Shanghai hosted a Bioclouds seminar at the Consulate-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Shanghai, on the subject “Limitations and possibilities for firms to work with Chinese academic institutes”. This meeting was organized in order to introduce the study towards academic excellence and potential for partnerships with the industry in Shanghai, carried out by NOST Shanghai. Professionals from the life-science industry were welcomed to present their practices and experiences regarding this subject. Also, attendees discussed the rapidly developing landscape of academic activities in China, to which extent commercial policies play a role, and the different strategies that are applied to attract collaborators.

The seminar attracted 18 attendees from different fields and disciplines, having governmental, academic, SME or MNC backgrounds. Annemieke Zuurman presented the NOST study mentioned before, and Laure Pallez (Institut Pasteur Shanghai, IPS), Lin Tang (iHuman, Shanghai Tech University) and Mason Wang (Unilever) presented their views on academic-industrial partnerships. A recurrent theme was how to deal with commercial interests in the outcome of projects. Interestingly, IP sharing seems an option for an academic incubator like IPS, while MNCs prefer not to share: if their academic partner will obtain IP rights at all, IPs are split.

All parties agreed on the necessity of academic-industrial partnering. Partnering combines a great knowledge base and the potential for open innovation, and likely increases the impact of papers and products that derive from such partnerships. Experiences from all presenters were positive, both from academic as well as industrial perspective. Issues that may arise–such as uncertainty about the fate of IP, have not lead to concerns, due to clear project planning and management. A benefit for all parties is extended knowledge and access to talents outside their own institutions.

The session closed with a Q&A session, with a clear focus on optimizing the network that enables successful innovation via academic-industrial partnerships. The role of venture capital, guided (and supported) by public funds, was mentioned as a measure to support early-stage innovation and to force the industry to keep investing in fresh ideas.

Welcome speech by Consulate-General Peter Potman, addressing the importance of multidisciplinary networks
Welcome speech by Consulate-General Peter Potman, addressing the importance of multidisciplinary networks

Startmeup Hong Kong Venture Programme looking for promising startups


Following up on last year‘s StartmeupHK venture programme, the Hong Kong government is again looking for worldwide entrepreneurial applicants to participate in the 2014 edition.

The StartmeupHK Venture Programme is a global competition for high-impact, innovative and scalable startups who aim to expand their businesses globally from Hong Kong. The programme includes the global competition ‘The 2014 StartmeupHK Grand Awards, a week-long StartmeupHK Festival to network with key stakeholders in the local startup community and the StartmeupHK Venture Forum in November, 2014.

There are 2 categories of target groups: Category One is young companies which are in Early to Growth stage already generating revenue and/or have significant clientele; Category Two is startups at the Concept and Prototype stage with no revenue.

Interested candidates can submit proposals online. For further details on eligibility and submission, please visit the official website: Deadline for 2014 applications is 12:00 pm, 31 July 2014 (Hong Kong time).

Refer to our previous post on Hong Kong if you are interested what Hong Kong has to offer for high-tech startups.

Hongkong – a new hub for R&D

HK newsflash image EN

That is the promising title of a new report published today by the Netherlands Office for Science & Technology in China. The study, conducted at the Netherlands Consulate-General in Hong Kong, extensively maps R&D opportunities for Dutch enterprises and knowledge institutes. A large number of Dutch companies and entrepreneurs are already conducting business in Hong Kong, or use Hong Kong as a base to cover mainland China and the surrounding region. The opportunities that Hong Kong offers in terms of technological innovation are however still lacking in exposure. Only very few innovative entrepreneurs and knowledge institutes are making optimal use of the possibilities.

The study concludes that there is no lack of possibilities. Due to an increasingly active innovation policy, there are numerous funding and incentive programs to stimulate R&D activities in the territory. Contrary to many other aspiring R&D hubs, these programs are very often open to foreign companies as well. These funding possibilities and a solid R&D infrastructure together create an environment where foreign start-ups, and SMEs in specific should be able to thrive. This applies in particular to companies active in the Dutch ‘topsectors’ High Tech Systems & Materials, Life Sciences & Health, Logistics and Energy, according to the study.

The full report is available (in Dutch only) on request. If you are interested, please send an e-mail to beijing [ at ] nost [ dot ] org [ dot ] cn. A Dutch summary is available on the NOST global website.

China in race to commercialize graphene


Yesterday the Financial Times reported concerns that the EU is lagging behind in terms of R&D spending: “Overall EU R&D spending has remained at about 2 per cent of GDP in the last decade, a long way off the 3 per cent target the EU wants to achieve by 2020. (…) Furthermore, the European Commission estimates that China could overtake the EU in absolute R&D spending by as early as 2014. The share of patent applications – many of which are applicable to manufacturing – also gives a hint of this competitive threat.”

One of the areas of competition with China is the development of graphene. According to research by UK technology strategy company Cambridge IP, of the 11,372 graphene-related patents and patent applications worldwide, nearly two-thirds have been made by Asian companies or organisations” (mainly distributed over China, Korea, and Japan). “China in particular has stepped up its bid (…). Between 2012-2013, it made more than 80 per cent of all patent applications.” Another report published last year by the UK Intellectual Property Office identified 8 of the 20 top graphene patent holders as Chinese, most notably Tsinghua University (5th position) and Zhejiang University (3rd position). Efforts in the field of graphene recently were also highlighted in the annual scientific report of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

It appears that particularly in the field of manufacturing and commercialization of graphene, China is building up a strong position. In Asia as a whole, a large part of the patent portfolio involves manufacturing technology. One of the biggest challenges to large scale commercial applications is how to maintain the quality of graphene as production is scaled up. Scientists have warned that it could take another 10 to 20 years for full-scale commercialisation is achieved, although graphene-enhanced products could be launched within a 12-18 months.

As pointed out by the director of the UK’s main graphene research hubs, the Cambridge Graphene Centre, it is important to catch up with China (and the rest of Asia) in terms of patent activity: “If you wait too long, then you may find that some technology may be blocked by patents”.

More info here and here. More on other multinationals joining the race for graphene commercialization here.

University in Chengdu testing vacuum tube maglev

Maglev vacuum tube

Southwest Jiaotong University, a university in Chengdu, Sichuan province, has revealed images of China’s first manned megathermal superconducting maglev (magnetic levitation) loop. The tests are conducted at the university’s Applied Superconductivity Laboratory. Last year in March the lab already completed the first high-temperature superconducting maglev ring test, but now the enclosed tube has been added, allowing researches to lower the pressure to one tenth of normal atmospheric pressure at sea level.

Project lead Dr Deng Zigang, associate professor of the Applied Superconductivity Laboratory, has estimated that in a lower pressure tube maglev speeds can be increased seven-fold. (The maximum operating speed of the maglev currently in use at Shanghai Pudong airport is 431 km/h). With regular maglevs, such as the one operating in Shanghai, over 83 percent of traction energy is dissipated through air drag at speeds higher than 400 km/h.

According to this publication in the IEEE journal of Applied Superconductivity, Southwest Jiaotong University has performed tests with high-temperature superconducting maglevs since 2000. The university is also home to the Key Laboratory of Magnetic Suspension Technology and Maglev Vehicle and the State Key Laboratory of Traction Power. A list of the latter’s research projects can be found here.

More information on the project can be found here.