Shaping China’s Innovation Future
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Shaping China’s Innovation Future

University Technology Transfer in Transition

John L. Orcutt and Hong Shen

Shaping China’s Innovation Future employs a thorough analysis of a combination of factors including: the role of law and China’s legal system; economic theory and the development of China’s economy; China’s educational, intellectual property, and financial systems; China’s innovation capacity; and Chinese culture. Though the recommendations on how to improve China’s technology commercialization system are unique to China, the scope of the research makes the conclusions found here applicable to other countries facing similar challenges.
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Chapter 9: Increasing the Technology Commercialization Capacity of Chinese Universities

John L. Orcutt and Hong Shen


Universities in China are yet to become the key driver of national research and development. – Weiping Wu1 The last decade has been a good one in China for developing university technology commercialization capacity.2 Chinese universities have greatly improved their ability to create and diffuse commercially-useful technology. University patent activity and licensing activity have consistently and dramatically increased – in terms of both quantity and quality. University-created S&T start-ups have seen similar progress and universities continue to commercialize meaningful amounts of technology through non-patent technology contracts. Despite these remarkable improvements, university technology transfer remains at the periphery of China’s innovation system. China’s university technology transfer system is not yet at a place where Chinese policymakers can count on its universities to consistently provide the innovation and technological advances that Chinese companies will need to be competitive in a knowledge-based economy.3 Considering the resources that China commits to its universities and the policy emphasis it has placed on university technology transfer, it is not unrealistic for policymakers to expect university technology commercialization to move in from the periphery and become central to the country’s technology-based economic development movement. Chinese universities ‘should’ become substantial drivers of economic growth and well-being. In order to achieve this ideal outcome, however, China’s university technology transfer system will need to grow. Considering the relative youth of the system, the performance has been quite impressive. In fact, it is realistic to project that university technology transfer will continue to grow in the near term merely from the various...

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