The 2019 government work report puts forward that “innovation leads development, fosters new kinetic energy”, “reforms innovative technology research and development and industrialization application mechanism” and “improves science and technology support capacity”. The practice of developed countries and China shows that accelerating the formation of a "mission-oriented" strategic scientific and technological strength system and constructing a "new type of national system" that leads the future is of great strategic significance for strengthening original innovation and strengthening key core technologies.77u
In macroscopic view, the mission-oriented strategic scientific and technological strength system is a strategic support that reflects the national strategic will, provides the “first big buyer” for the future industry, and creates the future market. Numerous studies have pointed out that the rise of Silicon Valley in the United States is benefiting from the early support and continued investment of the US Department of Defense in the semiconductor industry. In the middle, the mission-oriented strategic scientific and technological force is the key bridge between the interest-oriented frontier scientific exploration and the vision-oriented industrial technology innovation. Europe and the United States are mission-oriented and have established a series of national research institutes or national laboratories. These institutions play a key role in research and development that universities and companies cannot and are not good at – supporting national strategies. Based on their unique advantages, these institutions actively provide R&D and innovation services to industries and markets through the formation of various forms of alliance organizations, effectively promote technology integration, promote maturity and transformation of results, and become a bridge between universities and enterprises. At the micro level, mission-oriented strategic scientific and technological forces are the "test fields" and "demonstration lines" that lead the organization of innovation under the national system of the future. In response to the challenges of the first-mover advantage in the Soviet space competition, the United States has strengthened its mission-oriented strategic scientific and technological strength system represented by the Defense Advanced Research Institute. Since the 1990s, Japan has promoted the "independent administrative legal person" system and promoted the reform of scientific research institutes.
At present, China's accelerating the construction of a mission-oriented strategic scientific and technological strength system faces both the major opportunities and severe challenges of the new scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, as well as the realistic requirements for deepening the reform of the scientific and technological system and the strategic need to accelerate integration into the global innovation network. To this end, it is urgent to deploy and promote related work with reform, courage, strategic thinking, and forward thinking. The core lies in mobilizing the initiative of various entities.
The first is to clarify the mission orientation, focus on management innovation, and solve the problem of "for whom." It is necessary to implement the national strategic needs to the departmental responsibilities and implement them into the management mechanism (such as exploring the "project officials" system), and to make the national strategic will concrete and practical. It is necessary to effectively decompose and transform the national strategic needs, to achieve organic integration with the ambitions of entrepreneurs to participate in global market competition, and to explore the spirit of the unknown endless front of scientists, and to transform strategic consensus into a common action to shape the future. Focusing on the dual goals of national security and national development, we will continuously enhance the breadth and depth of military-civilian integration and promote technological innovation, and provide strong support for the development of strategic scientific and technological forces from both supply (such as fiscal and tax support) and demand (such as creating leading markets).
The second is to clarify the relationship of responsibility, strengthen organizational innovation, and solve the problem of "who is who." The National Laboratory can explore the director responsibility system under the leadership of the Implementation Council and construct a governance system with a mission of traction, responsibility-based, charter management, institutional funding, medium- and long-term incentives, and third-party assessment. Effectively implement the autonomy of colleges and universities, deepen the reform of modern university systems and modern scientific research institutes, improve the modern governance structure of micro-scientific research organizations, and fundamentally solve the problem of "owners are not in place" and "management is not dare to do". The colleges and universities have switched from the “resources” of technology that are passively waiting for enterprises to the innovative “engine” that actively promotes the transformation of results.
The third is to uphold the ecological thinking, promote institutional innovation, and solve the problem of "who will implement it." To promote the emergence of innovation, it is necessary to activate the innovation network, optimize the innovation ecology, and promote disruptive innovation with ecological thinking. At present, the new scientific and technological revolution and industrial changes are gradually unfolding. In the deployment of strategic science and technology tasks, we must “dare to be the best in the world” and we must do a tolerant failure on risk response. Facing the new infrastructure construction of intelligent society, we will organize research on human-machine integration intelligence, life and longevity, cosmic evolution, quantum science, advanced energy, and super-new materials, and drive the creation and development of future industries with strategic needs. Drawing on the practices and experience of the German Fraunhofer Institute and the Carnot Institute of France, we will create a network of research institutes to provide systematic and engineered solutions. Exploring the use of crowdsourcing crowdfunding and other means to attract cohesion and even create more R&D and innovation subjects, and to open up and innovate to highlight and release the process effects and spillover effects of strategic science and technology tasks.
The fourth is to mobilize social resources, encourage service innovation, and solve the problem of “who will support”. For example, in the laboratory operation mechanism, in the foreign practice, there is a government-owned, government-operated GOGO model (Government Owned-Government Operated), and a government-owned, enterprise-operated GOCO model (Government Owned-Contractor Operated). The United States Battelle Memorial Institute is entrusted with the management of several federal laboratories of the Department of Energy. You can consider exploring laboratory custody, selecting publicly qualified contractors to operate laboratories and research institutions, and setting up medium- and long-term contracts based on performance appraisal through high-level bidding or targeted invitations and reasonable compliance processes. Horizontal professional support services ensure that laboratory directors and researchers focus on the main business of research.
The construction and development of the mission-oriented strategic scientific and technological strength system is an important strategic strategy for implementing the innovation-driven development strategy and building an innovative country and a world-class scientific and technological power. It is necessary to fully grasp the "two-wheel drive" of technological innovation and institutional innovation. The tangible hand is combined with the "invisible hand" of the market to inject strong innovation momentum into the future industrial development from both supply and demand.
The author is the deputy director and researcher of the Shanghai Institute of Science. This article was published on April 22, 2019, Chinese Journal of Science and Technology.