Enhanced EU-China Cooperation in Innovation Will Boost Economic Recovery

ByAbraham Liu

July 15, 2021

Abraham Liu

EU China Cooperation in Innovation is Underway

In 2012, the European Union and the Chinese government signed an innovation dialogue agreement. At the time, this marked an intensification in relations between these two political partners in policy issues covering research, innovation, and science. 9 years later this relationship is operating at an even deeper level – and rightly so. The reality is that governments across the world are implementing strategies that are seeking to build cohesive and integrated innovative ecosystems. This is simply because supporting innovation in society boosts economic performance. This is the finding from many different studies that have been carried on this critical topic by organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and by the European Commission.

How does the EU and China Support Innovation in Practice?

The EU and China are drivers of innovation across a range of different sectors including within the ICT, agriculture, health, transport, and energy sectors.

The European Innovation Scoreboard that was published on 21 June this year concluded that innovation performance in Europe had increased by 12.5% since 2014. This year’s European Innovation Scoreboard is based on a revised framework, that includes new indicators on digitalisation and environmental sustainability, bringing the work of this scoreboard in line with EU political priorities. The EU, by investing in innovation is enhancing its capability to build a more sustainable, more digital and a more resilient European economy. This improved innovation performance in Europe is due to increased spending by governments and by private sector companies alike on research and development (R&D).

Horizon Europe Is Supporting Innovation

EU research, innovation, and sciences programmes are open to the world. Over the past six years there were 590 Chinese participations in 268 different projects under the EU Horizon 2020 instrument. These research collaborative engagements covered the ICT, energy, transport, and climate change sectors.         

In other words, Chinese and European researchers are working hand in hand in tackling the key global challenges facing society today.                                       

There is also a framework agreement dating back to 2017 between the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) that promotes research cooperation within the health, agriculture, and smart city fields.  

The next EU research, innovation, and science programme Horizon Europe 2021-2027 is also open to participation from private, public, educational and research bodies from all over the world. Horizon Europe is backing the growth of more innovative and disruptive scale-up companies through the work of the European Innovation Council (EIC). More concrete partnerships between research, business and educational stakeholders will be built up by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) that is headquartered in Budapest in Hungary.  The European Union is also backing the development of innovative companies through enhanced levels of venture capital funding arrangements. The EU is supporting the development of the Nobel prize winners of tomorrow through the work of the European Research Council (ERC).  

International Collaboration is Key to Promoting Innovation

The key to success in terms of building stronger innovative economies is enhanced international collaboration. There must also be a higher level of mobility between researchers and innovators travelling from China to Europe and from Europe into China.

I welcome too the fact that a whole variety of research and innovation projects that have been published by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in recent years are fully open to EU participation. This is a win-win situation for all of us. The EU and China must promote this advanced innovation agenda bilaterally and in an open manner.

I welcome too the fact that a whole variety of research and innovation projects that have been published by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in recent years are fully open to EU participation.

The public, private and educational sectors must co-operate together in the field of research.  EU companies are rightly involved in 6G research activities under a variety of different initiatives that have been set up by the Chinese government. Similarly, Horizon Europe promotes open engagement in the building of the next smart telecom infrastructure networks of the future. The Made in China 2025 strategy is being implemented at this time and a core objective of this policy is to boost innovation activity in China across a host of different vertical industry sectors. It is important to emphasise that for innovation ecosystems to prosper, broader international cooperation and collaboration must be promoted. Yes, in an EU-China context, and Yes in a global context.

EU-China cooperation within the fields of research, innovation and science is vitally important too if the UN Sustainable Development Goals are to be fully implemented by 2030.    

Promoting the Digital Sector Boosts Innovation

Of course, advances in the field of ICT are now modernising all business activities. There is a drive on from both the EU and China to construct stronger digital economy strategies. This is now Europe’s digital decade and EU institutions are rolling out a series of measures to promote competitiveness, innovation and industrial production.                                     

The EU Digital Compass 2030 will increase semi-conductor production in Europe, train 20 million more ICT specialists in Europe and boost cloud computing innovation for enterprises. The digital economy is one such economic policy area where international cooperation must be encouraged. The digital economy has been growing two and a half times stronger than global GDP and it has doubled in size since the year 2000. This upward trend is going to continue for many years to come.

Huawei Can Promote the Innovation Policy Agenda

Huawei is in a very strong position to support the policy agenda of the EU under Horizon Europe. We are the 8th most innovative company in the world this year according to the Boston Consulting Group. We are the 3rd highest R&D investor in the private sector globally. Huawei employs 2,400 researchers in Europe in 23 centres from 12 different countries. Huawei has the depth of expertise in a range of different research disciplines that can ensure, for example, the speedy development of 6G in Europe, enhanced levels of semi-conductor production in Europe and AI innovation.

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Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.

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Abraham Liu

Chief Representative To Eu Institutions, Vice President European Region, Huawei

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