BUILDING ENDURING FOUNDATIONS
For all of the philosophical differences voiced in the symposium, the common theme was on the strong foundations available on which to build U.S.-China cooperation in science and innovation. Individual participants from both the United States and China voiced their support for the basic elements of a globally connected innovation system, which include developing strong commitments to open scientific and applied research, education, spurring corporate R&D investment, and growing international partnerships, especially in areas of compelling mutual interest such as medicine and energy.
The mission of universities also is expanding in both countries to pay more attention to commercial applications. “Universities should remain focused on discovery of new scientific knowledge, new technologies, and new processes,” noted Dr. Vest. “But I think they are going to be increasingly use-inspired. People are simultaneously exploring the unknown, but with a broad end-goal in mind,” he said.
There also was evidence of some convergence in philosophy. China is trying to transform an innovation system dominated by state institutions into one driven more enterprises and the market. “We learned from advanced countries,” Mr. Wang said. The United States, by contrast, is searching for a more effective and impactful role for public policy and federal agencies. Nations with state-led innovation systems “are all trying to work their way to the bottom,” observed the University of Maryland’s Mote, “while the United States is trying to work its way to the top.”
Which mix of innovation policies and investments proves most effective in tackling enormous global challenges such as climate change, energy, and medical care for aging populations remains to be seen. As we see in the proceedings, summarized in the next chapter, the participants in this workshop highlighted a variety of areas where cooperation between China and the United States can help address these global challenges.