Research from ReConnect China at the EU-SPRI 2023 conference

22. Jun. 2023

How do China's R&D financing mechanisms support clean energy technologies?

The annual EU-SPRI conference is the leading European event on science, technology and innovation (STI) policy. This year's conference on the theme "Research with impact" took place from June 14 - 16 at the University of Sussex Business School in the UK. Robin Schindowski (Bruegel) and Philipp Brugner (ZSI) took part in the conference with a research paper stemming from joint work in the two Horizon Europe projects "China Horizons" and "ReConnect China".

The paper, which was presented as a speed talk, deals with a descriptive approach towards China's state-controlled R&D financing for companies and research institutions in the clean energy sector. It sheds more light on the various channels through which the government participates in their R&D activities, which, despite their complexity and the challenge to map all of them (in particular when it comes to China's regional levels), may be categorised along the following three prevalent types:

  • National Key R&D programmes
  • Firm-level R&D subsidies
  • Government equity participation (in so called "SOE" - state-owned enterprises)

Given these ways of vertical governmental innovation support to accelerate the development of clean energy technologies as a current top-priority for Chinese leaders, the research paper, towards its final structure, further aims to carve out as well as quantify some of the trade-offs associated with China's approach to harness vertical innovation support as a means to do industrial policy. As China is world-leader in manufacturing (and increasingly also in design and innovation) of clean energy technologies, this paper may also be situated in the European Union’s current debate about de-risking from China (by decreasing the EU's import dependency) while decarbonising the European industry to meet the goals stipulated by the Green Deal until 2030 and 2050.


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