NGO chief highlights significance of talent development for sustained innovation in China
By Zhang Jian
People's Daily app

Beijing (People's Daily) - The leader of a non-governmental organization on Thursday emphasized the necessity of focusing on talent development to maintain long-term innovation in China.

Denis Simon, president of the Alliance of Global Talent Organizations (Photo: People's Daily)

"Without talent work to be done effectively and efficiently, China will not be able to sustain its innovation activity on a long-term basis," said Denis Simon, president of the Alliance of Global Talent Organizations (AGTO), in an interview with the People's Daily.

His comments were made during the Zhongguancun Forum (ZGC Forum), which commenced on Thursday evening in Beijing.

Simon pointed out that China has established an environment conducive to nurturing talent. "Chinese talented people have more room, or more autonomy, in their creative activity, and therefore can pursue more entrepreneurial activities," he noted.

He commended the introduction of new policy initiatives aimed at decreasing administrative duties for researchers, allowing them more time to focus on their research projects.

"I think the seniority system is being reviewed very carefully so that new young talent can be given the necessary support that they need, because they're bringing in fresh ideas and new ideas from all around the world," Simon added. "They also will have to contribute to improvement in China's innovation performance."

Simon also expressed admiration for China's investment in research and development (R&D). "China's investment in R&D has been increasing very rapidly over the last ten years," he observed.

Quoting 2022 statistics, Simon highlighted the rapid growth in China's R&D spending. Earlier this year, China's authorities reported that its total R&D expenditure exceeded 3 trillion yuan ($437.8 billion), an increase of 10.4 percent from the previous year.

"I think that money doesn't necessarily buy innovation, but because the investment has been accompanied by expanded reforms in science and technology, China’s innovation performance has improved," Simon stated.

In 2017, China launched its Double First-Class Initiative, a significant government effort aimed at enhancing China's higher education institutions' quality and global competitiveness. Simon suggested this initiative exemplifies China's dedication to bolstering its educational capabilities.

Simon said that over the past several years, there's been a steady rise in the global ranking of Chinese universities. "The one thing China does have to do, however, is to increase the depth and the quality of universities."

He urged China to incorporate effective practices from other countries, specifically highlighting the need for greater diversity and global representation.

He said that China, as a very homogeneous country, could do well to encourage more people from abroad to come to China, to join Chinese universities and to become part of the research systems.

"I think that would add an element of dynamism to China's science and technology activities, and also enhance the quality of innovation over the longer term."

Simon said that he has been in the science and technology field in China for more than 40 years and has been collaborating with Chinese scientists since the early 1980s.

"I can see that there is a new spirit among the scientific community, because after so much effort…I think they're starting to see the payoff," he said.

Referring to China's advancements in science and technology, Simon expressed optimism about the future. "The prospects can only improve, especially if China continues its global engagement. Collaborative efforts have the potential to exponentially increase the impact – changing the equation from one plus one equals two to one plus one equals three."

AGTO, an initiative of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), serves as a platform for knowledge sharing, capacity building, and promoting international dialogue on global talent mobility.

The 2023 ZGC Forum, themed "Open Cooperation for a Shared Future," started on Thursday and will run until May 30. Since its inception in 2007, the forum has evolved into a national and international platform for open innovation.