Govt pledges to boost funding for scientific research

BEIJING – Scientists working on new technologies and techniques for disaster prevention are to receive a boost in funding.

In its blueprint for the next five years, the Ministry of Science and Technology has pledged to increase spending on scientific research to 2.2 percent of GDP by 2015. The figure was 1.74 percent last year.

Latest research by the State Council’s Development Research Center predicts China’s GDP will reach between $7.46 million and $7.63 million by 2015.

More investment will be directed to the development of technologies that affect people’s quality of life, such as those in health, disaster prevention and carbon reduction, says the blueprint.

“Science and technology were crucial when people were challenged by natural disasters during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), such as the Wenchuan and Yushu earthquakes,” said Wan Gang, minister of Science and Technology recently.

“To improve the ability to deal with disasters, we will establish and fund laboratories in geology, water conservation and public health.”

One base likely to benefit is the State Key Laboratory for Geomechanics and Deep Underground Engineering, which has used State funding to build 166 monitoring systems for coal mines and iron mines since 2006 to avoid losses caused by landslides.

The move will “improve innovation and increase the possibility of predicting landslides”, said Tao Zhigang, a researcher at the laboratory.

Pan Fusheng, director of the Chongqing Academy of Science and Technology, said the blueprint will “provide an institutional guarantee” of research funding.

“In the past, some local governments have allocated only a small amount of GDP for scientific research, while others did not even put a budget fully in place,” Pan said.

“Now the ministry has granted a high status to science and technology, so scientists will be encouraged to use their knowledge to help the people, which will improve society’s economic effectiveness.”

Meanwhile, a study has found that the volume of research papers published in the field of materials science is being driven by Asia and, in particular, China, which has overtaken the United States and Japan to become the largest single-country producer in the world.

Global Research Report: Materials Science and Technology, released on Thursday by information provider Thomson Reuters, uses data from the company’s Web of Knowledge to examine the most productive and influential countries, research institutes and universities, and topics in the field of materials science and technology. This field is a core area of research for many economies due to its potential contributions to manufacturing processes and the development of innovative products.

The findings show that much of the dramatic rise in materials science and technology in Asia comes from China, which produced more than 55,000 papers over the last five years after publishing fewer than 50 papers in 1981.

By comparison, the United States produced 38,189 papers over the same period but since the early 1980s, its world share in this field has fallen by nearly half. A similar decline has occurred in the European Union.

still cited twice as often as those from China, a reasonable indicator of their influence and significance,” said Jonathan Adams, director of research evaluation at Thomson Reuters.

“But as experience creates expertise among thousands of new materials researchers in Asia, the gap in citation impact between Asia, on the one hand, and Europe and North America, on the other, is starting to close.”

Source: China Daily

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