(Summer Davos) Economic Watch: Global investors optimistic about China's innovation-driven development
A session themed "China and Africa: Mutually Transformative" is held during the 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also known as the Summer Davos, in north China's Tianjin Municipality, June 29, 2023. (Xinhua/Meng Chenguang)
TIANJIN, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Global investors are seeking new business opportunities from China as the world's second-largest economy embarks on a path of innovation-driven development.
During the 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also known as the Summer Davos, heavyweight companies from home and abroad have reached a consensus that China's commitment to innovation helps them thrive in an increasingly digitalized world.
German mechanical and electrical drive producer, Flender, has scaled up its investment in the Chinese market over recent years while eyeing the country's growing appetite for hi-tech and innovative products.
Over the past two decades, the number of customers of high-end industrial materials and industrial components has expanded exponentially in the Chinese market, said Gou Jianhui, chairman and CEO of Flender Ltd., China.
"This shows that China's industrial technologies have kept evolving, and its consumer demand is shifting to upmarket products, which are positive trends of development," Gou said.
In the northern port city of Tianjin, a new research and development (R&D) center has been put into service this year by Pegasus, a century-old Japanese manufacturer of industrial sewing machines. According to Pegasus, the move aims to boost the market competitiveness of its products.
As China's high-end clothes sewing market thrives, this R&D center will help the company cater to China's growing demand for high-performance, multi-functional sewing machines, said Okada Yoshihide, general manager of Pegasus (Tianjin) Sewing Machine Co., Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary.
"We will increase our efforts in R&D and sales of new products to further expand our business in China," Okada added.
Official data showed that overseas firms are important drivers and beneficiaries of China's innovation-driven growth, with the R&D investment by major foreign-funded industrial enterprises in the country soaring by 91.5 percent from 2012 to 2021. The number of their valid invention patents increased from 68,000 to 241,000.
Behind the figures are the country's persistent endeavors to encourage innovation on all fronts. Official data showed that China's spending on R&D totaled 3.087 trillion yuan (about 427.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2022, an increase of 10.4 percent over the previous year.
The country has recorded double-digit growth in such spending annually since 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Among the latest efforts in this regard, Chinese policymakers decided last month that "the principal position of enterprises in sci-tech innovation should be ensured with institutional arrangements," and opportunities presented by the new sci-tech revolution, such as artificial intelligence, should be seized.
"In the long term, the innovation capacity of China is growing rapidly, and we believe that China will be at the center of the future pharmaceutical revolution," said Alex Zhavoronkov, founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in New York and Hong Kong.
Attracted by China's huge market and growing innovation capacity, Insilico Medicine built a drug research and development center in Shanghai in 2019. It has now become the largest and most talent-intensive among the company's centers and offices globally.
"Our Chinese team, with strong innovation and expertise, is driving Insilico Medicine's global business development. We are optimistic and confident about the business growth in China in the future," said Zhavoronkov.
Transforming into a global hub for innovators, China moved up to the 11th spot in the Global Innovation Index 2022 released by the World Intellectual Property Organization, marking an impressive climb of 23 places from its 2012 ranking.
Yu Feng, president of Honeywell China, said that China's solid implementation of an innovation-driven development strategy had helped the digital economy flourish and nurtured new sectors and hi-tech products.
"This provides vast opportunities for companies that are dedicated to technological innovation," Yu added.