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ASU expert speaks at Chinese university on country's role in global innovation

June 02, 2014

As part of Arizona State University’s efforts to deepen as well as expand its footprint in China, Denis Simon, senior adviser on China and global affairs to ASU President Michael Crow, delivered a lecture on the Asian giant’s evolving role in the global innovation system at China's National Defense Science and Technology University (NDTU) – a premier military institution for developing and nurturing high level scientific and engineering talent in the country.

Simon's lecture focused on the changing patterns of competition and cooperation in the innovation sphere, noting that cross border, cross functional collaborative networks have become the new primary mechanism for knowledge discovery and commercialization.

"China has depended heavily on a top-down innovation model that derived from successes in developing its first advanced weapons and satellite systems in the 1960s,” said Simon. “With the onset of globalization and the growing interface between the military and civilian sectors in the innovation space, China's defense sector will need to open itself up to new ways of thinking about its research and development system if it is to keep up with the accelerated pace of innovation across the globe.”

The lecture was followed by discussion, particularly on the role of small and medium enterprises and the contributions of venture capital for supporting new start-up enterprises. The exchange also touched upon the role of patents, and patent mining and blocking – both of which have been employed by Chinese companies looking to create greater leverage in the negotiation of patent licensing fees.

“Despite persistent concerns, much progress has been made across China with regard to both creating a legal system for protection of intellectual property rights and enforcement of existing laws," said Simon. “According to Thompson-Reuters, China has become one of the world's leading generators of new patents. Unfortunately, the bulk of these patents have yet to yield any tangible commercial value.”

Simon was invited to deliver the lecture by NDTU professor Weidong Bao, who completed a year of stay at ASU, working with various faculty members to grasp research trends regarding the application and utilization of technology in the field of information systems management.