From the Cambridge University - Nanjing Centre of Technology and Innovation officially settled in Jiangbei New Area on 27 March, 2018, to the Center's research project officially launched in May 2019; from the foundation of the Center's long-term base laid on 10 September, 2019, to the long-term base starting construction in March 2020, the Center - the research institution and achievement transformation platform established for the first time in the 800-year history of Cambridge University outside the UK, is making steady progress.
Why did Cambridge University hold hands with Nanjing? What kind of new cooperative relationship has the two sides built? Recently, Professor Daping Chu, tenured chair professor of the University of Cambridge, the Director the Cambridge Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) and Centre for Photonic Devices and Sensors Group, and the Academic Director and CEO of the Cambridge University – Nanjing Centre of Technology and Innovation, conducted an in-depth explanation.
Technological innovation connects the needs of both parties
Why did the ancient capital Nanjing throw an olive branch to Cambridge University which is thousands of miles away, and why did Cambridge University choose to establish an overseas research center in Nanjing, in China? Professor Daping Chu believes that in the era of technological innovation leading the development of the global economy, this is a case where the demand for industrial upgrading and the transformation of scientific and technological achievements are driven in dual directions.
At the moment, China is leading the global economic growth, and China's economic growth can't bypass the eastern coast, especially the Yangtze River Delta Region. As economic growth shifts from "quantity" to "quality", China's industrial structure has gone from a labor-intensive model of foreign processing to a resource-intensive model, and then turned to a key stage where technological innovation leads sustainable development to break through the bottleneck of manufacturing upgrading and build knowledge-intensive enterprises. To drive local high-quality development with "scientific and technological innovation" has become a consensus among governments at all levels to do a good job in economic work. Looking at the world, the scientific and technological strength and innovation activity are important evaluation criteria when measuring the comprehensive competitiveness of cities. In the Global Urban Competitiveness Report 2018-2019 - Global Industrial Chain: Shaping a networked urban Planet jointly released by the UN-HABITAT and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the evaluation indicators of economic vitality, technological innovation, global connection, and human capital potential are crucial. New York, Singapore, London, Shenzhen, Tokyo and other cities that are at the top of the list are all cities that excel in technological innovation and globalization.
Innovation is an inexhaustible driving force for the development of modern cities. As the only megacity among the Yangtze River Delta urban agglomerations recognized by the National Development and Reform Commission and the “National Innovation Pilot City” determined by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Nanjing has always focused on the construction of the “A Famous Innovative City” in the past three years in the No. 1 document of the Municipal Party Committee. Under the guidance of the plan and vision of the 2035 planning of Nanjing- "Famous Innovative City, Beautiful Ancient Capital", the "121" strategy of implementing innovation-driven development has been launched since 2018, which is committed to building a "one famous city"- a famous innovative city with global impact, and creating "two centers"- comprehensive science center and technology industry innovation center, as well as building a first-class innovation ecosystem, and cultivating famous schools, famous enterprises, famous parks and other initiatives to build Nanjing into a city that encourages innovation, is most suitable for innovation, and has the most innovative and entrepreneurial vitality.
If Nanjing is a leader in innovation in the Yangtze River Delta, Jiangbei New Area is the leading role of innovation in Nanjing. As the thirteenth national-level new area approved by the State Council, since its establishment five years ago, Nanjing Jiangbei New Area has set a vision of creating an “source of innovation” through the dual drive of technological innovation and institutional innovation, focusing on building a chip city, a gene city, and a new financial center. It strives to build an independent innovation pilot zone, a new urbanization demonstration zone, a modern industrial cluster in the Yangtze River Delta Region, and an important platform for foreign cooperation in the Yangtze River Economic Belt, which is accompanied by the strong demand in top global innovation resources and high-end talents.
On the other hand, Cambridge University has always been committed to the pursuit of first-class education, learning and research, and put the research results into industrial applications to contribute to society; international cooperation is also an important idea for Cambridge University to seek development. China is a very important part of Cambridge's internationalization process. How can Cambridge University smoothly integrate into China's development?
“Incorporating into China with technological innovation and industrial application as the landing point can not only bring out the outstanding advantages of Cambridge University, but also fit China's current development orientation, and Jiangbei New Area, a rapidly changing national-level new area, provides Cambridge University with a broader space for development”, Professor Daping Chu believes that such a close cooperation relationship further enhances the quality of cooperation between the two sides.
Based on the above ideas, the Center is located in the Jiangbei New Area which breeds unlimited innovation. The research direction of the center is in line with the local strategic development plan. The initial research direction focuses on innovation and industrialization in information technology and renewable energy, biomedical and health care, smart cities and environmental protection, and zero carbon and sustainable development, which keeps in line with the industrial orientation of the new area, with a view to promoting the integration of industry and city in the new area and promoting the integration of Cambridge University into China.
“The development of the new area is rising day by day, and the Center and the new area are growing together. The two sides are promoting each other, and it is a wise choice to land in the Jiangbei New Area," said Professor Daping Chu.
Partnership strengthens cooperation between the two parties
In the opinion of Professor Daping Chu , the cooperative relationship between Cambridge and Nanjing is a “partnership model based on mutual trust, mutual support, equality and win-win". The Center is not only affiliated with one side, Cambridge University or Nanjing, it is the link between Cambridge and Nanjing, and the accelerator that Cambridge and Nanjing play to their respective strengths.
On the one hand, the total GDP of Jiangsu Province ranks second in the country for consecutive years, and the province has a complete industrial chain, which has a guiding significance for the direction of scientific and technological innovation. Doing research locally can be directly connected to the front line of industrial applications, just as Professor Richard Pragerthe, professor of Cambridge University Engineering Department, once said, the most attractive thing about Nanjing is that it can connect academic cooperation with industry. He has always wanted to develop an accurate algorithm for ultrasound imaging equipment and apply it to the hospital. This requires cooperation with ultrasound equipment manufacturers, and there are such leading enterprises in Jiangsu Province that can cooperate.
Focusing on Nanjing, it has the advantage of "4+4+1" leading industrial cluster, and is also an important scientific research and education base in the country. It has rich talent resources for scientific research and reserves. It has 53 colleges and universities including Nanjing University and Southeast University, ranking third in the country, and the number of graduate students per 10,000 ranks second in the country; Since Nanjing is more familiar with the national policy and direction, the development of the Center is inseparable from the all-round support given by the government of Nanjing and Jiangbei New Area.
In terms of Cambridge, Professor Daping Chu explained that Cambridge University has the following outstanding cooperation advantages.
As we all know, Cambridge University has the world's leading science and technology. For hundreds of years, from Newton to Darwin, from Turing to Hawking, masters are gathering in Cambridge which cultivated more than one hundred Nobel Prize winners.
More importantly, Cambridge's advantages are not only focused on academics, but also on the corresponding industrial applications of academics. “The area around Cambridge is the main component of the new economic hub of the UK. Here, an industrial network economic form in which universities, emerging companies, and large multinational companies are closely collaborating.” Professor Daping Chu introduced that from Turing's concept of computer to the vigorous development of the computer industry, from Watson and Crick's first discovery of the DNA double helix structure to gene sequencing research and industrial prosperity represented by Sanger Institute and Solexa high-speed sequencing, from the birth of ARM to a global chip industry giant, high-tech industrial clusters have formed in the area around Cambridge, contributing about 16% of GDP to the UK.
In fact, as a technological innovation highland comparable to Silicon Valley in the world, the area around Cambridge is called "Silicon Fen". This is the location of a large number of R&D companies specializing in software, electronics and biotechnology. Many companies have direct or indirect links with Cambridge University. Within a 25-kilometer radius of Cambridge, there are not only multinational companies and field leaders such as AstraZeneca and ARM, but have also gathering more than 5,000 emerging technology companies. Although facing many difficulties, the 5-year survival rate of start-ups around Cambridge has reached 95%, which is much higher than the 5-year survival rate of 10% in general technology parks.
In addition, Cambridge University also directly supports the industrialization and commercialization of intellectual property rights through the establishment of a wholly-owned subsidiary, Cambridge Enterprise Limited, which is mainly engaged in technology transfer, consulting and seed fund services, covering technology transfer, consulting and seed fund services, all aspects from technology assessment and protection to IP certification. From fund application to market research and prototype development, it provides a full range of enterprise services for the creation of new technology companies, helping to establish 5 start-up companies on average every year, and has incubated more than 300 high-tech enterprises so far.
“These rich experiences and successful industrialization practices accumulated by Cambridge in the commercialization of intellectual property rights are of strategic significance to Cambridge's integration into Nanjing and the promotion of local social and economic development," Professor Daping Chu concluded.
It is on the basis of mutual benefit that Nanjing fully recognizes cooperation with Cambridge. Government departments at all levels in Nanjing and Jiangbei New Area actively provide service guidance, create a superior cooperative atmosphere and arrange the CBD in Jiangbei New Area for the implementation and development of the Center in Nanjing. The Area has set up a special Cambridge working team to promote the operation of the Center. In the face of the shutdown of the COVID-19 epidemic, the team works overtime to build the Center’s long-term base, and actively coordinate and raise medical supplies for Cambridge University during the epidemic; Based on mutual trust and mutual benefit, Stephen Top, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, also said in his visit to China in 2019, “This is by far the best development opportunity for Cambridge University in China."
At last, Professor Daping Chu also specifically stated that the cooperation between Cambridge and Nanjing is inclusive, open, and positive. The cooperation objects of the Center are open to the whole province, the country and the world. Not only does it seek broader innovation cooperation and achievement promotion on the basis of Nanjing industry, but Cambridge University will also rely on the Center to strive for academic research cooperation with domestic first-class universities and overseas top universities to gather top scientific and technological innovation talents.