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China's commercialization of science spawns professional technology managers

2021-09-09 14:48

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HEFEI, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- During the past two years, Shen Zhi, 27, has been busy rushing between enterprises and research labs with his colleagues, promoting the successful commercialization of a dozen scientific findings.

"Our job is to forge connections between academia and industries, and convert science into commercial products," said Shen from Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province.

Shen is among the growing army of technology managers in China as the country strives to advance scientific innovation and ramp up the commercialization of science.

According to a report released this year, a total of 3,450 universities and research institutes in China signed 15,035 contracts to commercialize their research achievements in the form of technology transfer, licensing and investment in 2019, up 32.3 percent year on year.

The commercialization of scientific findings requires professional technology managers with both technical knowledge and strong business acumen, said Xie Jihua, president of the National Eastern Tech-Transfer Center.

To become a qualified technology manager, Shen received training in intellectual property rights, transaction process and technology evaluation and has obtained a certificate.

"A technology manager needs to master various knowledge and must have acute insight and good communication skills to forge connections between research and economic activities," said Shen.

Last year, Shen and his colleagues helped a packaging company transfer over 100 patents and technologies to another packaging company at a price of 50 million yuan (about 7.7 million U.S. dollars). The client said that the move has greatly promoted industrial upgrading.

According to the country's outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) and the long-range objectives through the year 2035, China will promote the reform of innovation-oriented institutions and startups, and build professional market-oriented technology transfer institutions and technology manager forces.

Regions across the country have also rolled up a slew of preferential policies to nurture more professional technology managers.

Hefei issued a policy this year to award up to 300,000 yuan to technology managers who achieve commercialization of research findings.

As one of the important bases for fostering technology transfer talent, the Hefei-based Anhui Innovation Center has trained more than 300 technology managers so far. They have achieved the commercialization of seven research findings at an expo held in April this year, with a transaction volume of 6.809 million yuan.

Northwest China's Shannxi Province has set up 68 institutions and trained more than 600 qualified management personnel offering commercialization services. The province has also established the first technology managers' association in China.

Ye Hui, who has been a technology manager for four years, is impressed by the rapid development of technology manager as a profession in recent years.

"Few people knew about this profession when I first started this job. But with the launch of various favorable policies in recent years, the industry has seen an increasing popularity. Many scientific service institutions began to shift toward this sector, and the training and certification of technology managers have gradually improved," Ye said.

According to a three-year plan issued by the China Association for Science and Technology this year, China is going to train some 10,000 technology managers by 2023.

"We believe that with the development of technology managers, the strength of scientific and technological innovation, the vitality of enterprises and markets, and the level of commercialization of science will all take qualitative leaps," Ye said.
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