Frontier science topics discussed at Zhongguancun Forum

Frontier science topics discussed at Zhongguancun Forum

The 2023 Zhongguancun Forum was held in Beijing from May 25 to 30 on the theme of “Open Cooperation for a Shared Future”. The six-day event featured more than 150 activities, including conferences, exhibitions, announcements of research developments, technology trading, and competitions in cutting-edge fields. The forum’s 55 parallel sessions brought together experts and innovators to discuss a diverse range of topics in frontier science, such as artificial intelligence (AI), life sciences and clean energy, as well as hot topics including data governance, women in scientific and technological innovation and digital sports. Three new hosts have been added this year: the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC). Of the 55 parallel sessions, 25 were hosted or co-hosted by national ministries or commissions, accounting for 45% of the total.

The Forum explored trends in sci-tech innovation, showcased the latest achievements and hosted roadshows to identify disruptive technologies that will shape the future of sci-tech innovation and industrial development. Guests from more than 80 countries and regions attended the forum, with upward of 40% of the nearly 120 keynote speakers coming from foreign countries.

At the opening of the Forum, 10 major sci-tech achievements were presented, including an evaluation report on the construction of Beijing into an international sci-tech innovation center, progress and achievements in Zhongguancun’s pioneering reforms, chips for new-generation 256-core blockchain, and a new-generation quantum computing cloud platform. Wu Zhaohui, Vice Minister of Science and Technology, said 13 parallel sessions were co-hosted by international organizations. Notably, there has been an increase in the number of representatives from international companies and organizations, as well as world-renowned politicians, industry experts, scholars and researchers attending the Forum.

At the 2023 Invest Beijing Global Summit, which was for the first time held during the Zhongguancun Forum, 39 major projects were signed, involving a combined value of CNY60.8 billion. Wu said that the Zhongguancun Forum aims to develop into an international summit for science and technology exchanges, where major policies can be promoted, high-end talents can congregate and communicate, important achievements can be showcased and cutting-edge ideas can be exchanged. The 2023 ZGC International Technology Trade Fair was held with significant international involvement with over 7,000 technological achievements and innovation projects from 40 countries and regions seeking collaboration, the China Daily reports. The National Council for Social Security Fund announced a special fund for independent innovation in Zhongguancun with the initial amount reaching CNY5 billion, the Global Times added.

The world will continue to rely on China in photovoltaics manufacturing for at least five years despite certain restrictions on the “vibrant” sector from countries like the United States, Martin Green, Professor of Photovoltaics at the University of New South Wales, said during the Zhongguancun Forum. “Although the United States and Europe are looking to develop their own industries, it’s going to take a while before they can make any substantial contribution to the world supply of photovoltaics,” Green, who is widely acknowledged as the “godfather of photovoltaics”, told China Daily in an interview. “In other words, the world is going to be dependent on China for the next five years, at least, to supply the panels that the world needs.” China remains a global leader in photovoltaics development. Last year, the country brought into operation 87.41 gigawatt of new solar power, up 60.3% year-on-year, increasing total installed capacity to 392.61 GW.

According to Green, the overall Chinese industry is adventurous and is willing to adopt new technologies, and so, the development of photovoltaics has never been quicker than it is right now. “The technology is evolving here year by year. Every year, a better product is launched by a different manufacturer,” Green said. “In China, best practices get incorporated very quickly across the whole industry because of the particular attributes of China and the flexibility of local talents moving around,” he added. Green said local governments were very supportive of the new industry, making land and other resources available at low rates and enabling companies to build up manufacturing scale quickly. “Thus, it would be very hard for other countries to manufacture photovoltaic components as cheaply as they can be made in China,” he said. According to the latest forecast by the China Photovoltaics Industry Association, the country is expected to add 95 to 120 GW of solar power, or as much as 30%, this year, the China Daily reports.

More than 1,160 guests delivered speeches at the forum, which drew nearly 80,000 members of the public, and at least 129 projects worth more than CNY81 billion were signed. The Beijing Zhongguancun Comprehensive Bonded Zone was officially launched. It is the first such zone that focuses specifically on R&D and innovation.