Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: National R&D Programs and Innovation in Catching-up Country: A Case Study on China's 863 Program

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 1:45 PM
Board Room (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Qiang Zhi and Jinghua Zhao, Central University of Finance and Economics
As technology-push policy instruments, the national science and technology (S&T) programs have been recognized as the most important RD&D policies in promoting China’s innovation capacity and industrial development (OECD, 2008). After the 1985 “National S&T system reform”, the most obvious transition of the Chinese R&D funding system is its transferring from the ministry-based planning system to science and technology program-based competitive grant allocation system. Among all the national S&T programs, "China’s National High Technology R&D Program", commonly referred to as the "863 Program", is the key national R&D program to promote the development and adoption of new and advanced technologies, and is recognized as the prototype in China's current research funding programs characterized by competitive project grants and R&D contracts (Zhi, 2012). During the past 30 years, the 863 program has undergone every milestone change in China’s S&T system and has helped to narrow the technology gap between China and developing countries (OECD, 2008). Thus, we study the role of the national R&D programs in industry innovation by using 863 Program as a single case. 

In this paper, we examine the policy process of the 863 Program and how it has promoted the innovation in the power sector in China. Based on review of policy documents and in-depth interviews with government officials and representatives from solar and wind turbine manufacturing companies, we analyze how the policy process interacts with industrial innovation in solar and wind sectors in China. We first illustrate the policy processes of the 863 Program and the roles of key actors involved in each stage, including the priority setting, project decision making, management and assessment. Then we analyze how the priority has evolved in 863 program and how this evlolution set the objectives and relevant priorities in the power sector to drive the innovation for solar and wind technologies. 

From our case study, we find that the 863 Program is effective in promoting the catch-up in China's energy sector. We conclude that the national S&T programs such as the 863 Program have played an effective role in the national innovation system in four aspects: strategic decision-making in sicence and technology, identification and continous supports to the key generic leading technologies, interconnection between technology and domestic market, network building to mobilize avaiable key resouces.