SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Delegates from the Chinese Development Research Centre of the State Council visit SPRU

Delegates from the Development Research Centre of the State Council (DRC) in China visited SPRU on 7 November to discuss technology foresight and innovation research.

The visit was organised by Dr Adrian Ely after introductions by long-standing collaborators at Tsinghua University School of Public Policy and Management. Dr Ely welcomed the delegation with an introduction to SPRU and its history of foresight work.

Technology foresight is a prediction methodology for determining future changes involving stakeholders such as governments, producers and users in order to develop a common vision of future developments. It is a useful tool to help in decisions on science, technology and innovation, particularly when resources are limited.

SPRU’s involvement with technology foresight began in the 1980s when it was commissioned to study foresight by the UK Cabinet Office. Researchers at SPRU later carried out a larger study for the Dutch government which resulted in the launch of technology foresight in the Netherlands. By the 1990s, technology foresight was widespread across a number of countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Building on this history, SPRU researchers continue to push the boundaries of methodological innovations in this area, and presentations were given by SPRU researchers Daniele Rotolo, Tommaso Ciarli, Frederique Bone and Michael Hopkins.

Dr Ely, who has been working on science and technology policy in China for over a decade, said about the visit:

“We were grateful for the opportunity to share experiences and expertise with colleagues from the DRC. Science, technology and innovation are vital to addressing shared challenges such as climate change, anti-microbial resistance and food security and it is important that the UK and China work together in these areas.”

The DRC is a policy research and consulting institution under the State Council, the central government of the People’s Republic of China. Its major function is to conduct advanced research on comprehensive, strategic and long-term issues in national economic and social development and to provide policy recommendations to the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee and the State Council.

The visiting delegates, led by Ms Wei Lyu, former Director-General of the DRC Research Department of Innovation (formerly called Techno-Economic Research Dept) are experts in the area of technology foresight, national innovation systems and innovation policy. Ms Lyu is one of 159 members of the standing committee of National People’s Congress also, which is the institutional authority for law making in China.  The visit included a presentation by Ms Wei Lyu on foresight work conducted by the State Council DRC. She said

“We learned much from colleagues at SPRU and I believe that the conversation was constructive for both sides.”

She was joined on the visit by the Deputy Director-General of the Innovation Research Department at the DRC, the Director of Quantitative Finance Research Laboratory in Quantitative & Technical Economics of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a DRC research fellow.