Advanced materials are significant basic and leading industry in the national economy. Accelerating the development of advanced materials industry is of great significance in promoting technological innovation and supporting industrial upgrading. However, advanced materials industry in China started late with weak foundation. Some key strategic materials rely on imports, which has become a servious problem for manufacturing upgrading. Recently, Zheng Yueming, chairman of the Advanced Materials Technology Innovation and Industrialization Alliance of Chinese Academy of Sciences and chairman of Levima Advanced Materials Corporation, in an interview with China Chemical Industry News, proposed to solve the problem of two parts of scientific research and industry in the development of advanced materials by constructing an innovative ecological system of Industry-University-Research-Finance-Service-Consumption.
Reporter: What do you think is the biggest problem in the development of advanced materials industry? What is the solution?
Zheng Yueming: At present, the biggest problem in the advanced material industry is the connection between advanced material technology and the industry. To simply put, it is difficult to match the two parts of scientific and technological achievements with the industry. Though China has the largest scientific research team in the world and the second largest number of patents in the world, the efficiency of scientific and technological achievements transformation is not ideal. There are two main factors leading to the low transformation rate of scientific and technological achievements: first, the technology is separate from the industry. The technology can only stuck in the patent database and lacks marketable achievements; Second, the cycle of achievement transformation is too long, lack of connection and lack of funds.
To promote the convergence of advanced materials technology and industry, in January 2018, under the leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, CAS Holdings established the Advanced Materials Technology Innovation and Industrialization Alliance of Chinese Academy of Sciences in conjunction with a number of scientific research institutes and innovative enterprises of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The Alliance adopts the 3+1 mode of operation. Through the Alliance + Platform + Fund and a professional achievement transformation operation team, the Alliance promotes the deep integration of innovation chain, industrial chain and capital chain to create a collaborative innovation system.
Under this system, the Alliance will establish a high-level incubation platform for technological achievements of advanced materials, set up a platform company for technological achievements transformation and industrialization which will be managed and operated by a professional team, and design a benefit sharing mechanism for technicians, investors and operators according to market rules in terms of output achievements. At the same time, the Alliance also set up industry guide fund to provide financial support at specific stages. This 3+1 mode of operation can combine enterprises and scientific research institutions closely, create leading enterprises and industrial clusters in the field of advanced materials, cultivate several Invisible Champions in some sub-sectors and lead the innovation and development of Advanced materials industry in China.
Reporter: What kind of challenges has the Alliance encountered in the technological and industrial convergence of advanced materials? What experiences could you share with us?
Zheng Yueming: There will be many challenges in the process of transforming scientific and technological achievements. First of all, how to select suitable technologies from thousands of achievements? This requires a professional achievement transformation operation team to evaluate and screen technologies that are close to industrialization and conform to market needs and national strategic policies. Secondly, where does the money come from? As the technology evaluation process and the transformation process of scientific and technological achievements both require a large amount of financial support, whether the investor is one enterprise or a number of enterprises, the scheme needs to be flexible and adaptable at different stages. Thirdly, new products made in China have appeared in the market, but the clients dare not try.
In addition, the transformation efficiency of many platforms in the industry is not enough. This is because they are far away from the market and lack the process of industrialization in their operation. This process takes so long and involves so many links, requiring a professional achievement transformation team for operation. This team should have not only knowledge of innovation, but also a high level of market ability and a strong ability of engineering transformation.
In order to face these challenges, it is not only necessary for research institutes to highly correspond their research direction to market demand, but also to have sufficient financial support. At the same time, it is also necessary to form a benign interaction between the innovation end and the industry end, to establish sufficient trust between research institutes and enterprises, and to balance the interests of all participants in order to achieve win-win results.
We have also learned a lot of experience in this regard. The reason of Levima Advanced Materials being elected as the chairman unit of the Advanced Materials Alliance of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is CAS seeing into our technological transformation ability in the field of advanced materials. The DMTO of Dalian Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences has been industrialized in our company. Furthermore, we have also achieved the leading position of the industry.
Reporter: It has been one and a half years since the Alliance was established. What progress has the Alliance made during this period? What are your plans for the future?
Zheng Yueming: After more than a year of development, the number of governing units of the Alliance has increased from 16 at the establishment to 22, and a technical expert committee of the alliance has been established to carry out docking and analysis of 47 projects. At present, 3 projects are planned to enter the pilot or industrialization stage.
The Alliance is building two pilot bases in Tengzhou, Shandong, and Shangyu, Zhejiang. Among them, Tengzhou Pilot Transformation Base Project was included in the first batch of excellent projects of major project library for transformation from old kinetic energy to new in Shandong Province. In addition, the Advanced Materials Industry Fund of Chinese Academy of Sciences was registered on July 8 and is currently preparing for the Zhejiang Advanced Materials Industry Fund. The Advanced Materials Industry Fund will mainly invest in key strategic materials, new functional materials, cutting-edge advanced materials, fine chemicals, pharmaceutical intermediates and other subdivided areas.
In the future, the Alliance will continue to carry out more effective innovation-driven, market-oriented transformation of technology into products with market demand, and train continuous innovation teams to realize product upgrading iteration. In the construction of innovation platform, we should choose the products according to market demands and find professional operation teams. In terms of overall industrial planning, we should sort out the advantages and disadvantages according to our own characteristics, accurately position the development direction and achieve differentiated development. In addition, it is necessary to set targets and suit the remedy to the case when docking with the industry.
Reporter: At present, the 14th Five-Year Plan is under preliminary investigation. What is the layout of Levima Advanced Materials? What suggestions do you have for the development of advanced chemical materials industry?
Zheng Yueming: In the future, Levima Advanced Materials will seize the historic opportunity of upgrading the industrial structure of advanced materials and upgrading the consumption of downstream products in China. Relying on the advantages of technology, industrial layout, operation management, research and development innovation, location, brand and other fields accumulated over the years in various industries, Levima Advanced Materials will focus on the direction of advanced polymer materials and special chemicals through the development mode of Innovation-driven + Operation-promotion, continuously improve its operation level, invest in new businesses, enhance its independent innovation capability, cultivate and enhance its core competitiveness, and become an influential enterprise in the field of advanced materials. At present, we are advancing step by step according to the established strategic plan in terms of putting the unit into production, improving the efficiency, product development, listing plan and other aspects.
During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, I think the primary task for the development of the advanced materials industry is to cultivate leading enterprises in several key areas such as functional plastics, electronic chemicals, new carbon materials and degradable materials and the like to create an innovation ecosystem; The second is to solve the problem of asymmetric information, which requires relevant departments to strengthen the construction of the database; In addition, we should better play the role of trade associations and make well in industrial development planning.