In the face of major changes in the world unseen in a century, technological innovation is the key to victory in the future for all countries and regions.

Recently, when a reporter from Xinhua News Agency interviewed Wu Zhaohui, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and president of Zhejiang University, Wu said that Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta are the three major regions where innovation in China is currently concentrated.

Among them, the Yangtze River Delta is particularly mentioned.

  The contemporary global national competition is technological innovation competition. This competition, to some extent, can be regarded as competition between national innovation clusters, such as innovations such as Tokyo-Yokohama, Boston-Cambridge, and Silicon Valley (San Jose-San Francisco). Cluster.

Of course, China is also developing its own technological innovation clusters, of which the Yangtze River Delta plays an important role.

  In fact, according to the "Development Plan for the Construction of the Yangtze River Delta Science and Technology Innovation Community" issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology at the end of 2020, by 2035, the Yangtze River Delta will fully build a world-leading scientific and technological innovation community.

An important traditional feature of innovation clusters is the cross-regional cooperation between high-level enterprises and high-level universities.

This feature is also reflected in the cooperation projects between Zhejiang University and the local government.

For example, Zhejiang University has successively established the Zhijiang Laboratory with the Zhejiang Provincial Government, and the Hangzhou International Science and Technology Innovation Center with the Hangzhou Municipal Government.

  In March of this year, the Zhejiang University Education Foundation also signed a donation agreement with the Fanxing Charity Fund, and established the "Star Science Fund of Zhejiang University Shanghai Institute for Advanced Study".

This fund was initiated by Zhejiang University alumnus and founder of Pinduoduo Huang Zheng and his team, and Wu Zhaohui is the chairman of the fund's board of directors.

  The government factor is naturally China's traditional innovation advantage for this kind of innovative linkage of the integration of government, research, and enterprise in the Yangtze River Delta.

Among them, the new phenomenon worth pondering is the "technical consciousness" of enterprises.

What is "technological consciousness"

  What is "technical awareness", might as well start from Kodak.

  In 1973, Steven Sasson joined Kodak after graduating with a master's degree and became an engineer at the Applied Electronics Research Center. He was responsible for inventing the "handheld electronic camera".

The following year, the first digital camera prototype was born in the laboratory.

At that time, the pixels were only 10,000 pixels, the imaging was very rough, and there was no computer, and special playback equipment was needed.

Interestingly, the storage device at that time was the tape of the tape recorder.

However, due to concerns about the impact on film sales, Kodak has not dared to vigorously develop its digital business.

  From 2004 to 2013, Kodak only achieved full-year profitability in 2007, and the company's market value fell from US$31 billion in 1997 to US$2.1 billion in September 2011, evaporating 99% in more than ten years.

In 2012, Kodak filed an application for bankruptcy protection.

  The reason for Kodak's trouble is that in the markets of Eastern Europe and developing countries, cheaper film such as Lucky posed a great threat to Kodak.

The more fatal problem is that digital cameras have severely impacted "silver salt cameras" that are expensive, inconvenient to use, and cumbersome to print.

  Kodak's major mistakes in strategic decision-making are directly caused by short-term profits, avoiding the pain of "disruptive innovation" and missing opportunities.

The essence is that there is a lack of keen insight into the relationship between technology and the market.

  This is the story of a "pre-technological innovation" era.

  In the agricultural era, innovation is more of a spontaneous process, which gradually accumulates in a long period of production.

Before the reform and opening up, nurses could write prescriptions and workers could replace was a kind of technological innovation thinking in the agricultural era.

  After the industrial revolution, in order to obtain new products, industrial capital and large enterprises will establish R&D centers.

In the traditional "market-technology" system, the business model of technology upgrading is: R&D, sales, making money, reinvestment in R&D, technology upgrading, and sales.

This slow technology upgrade model, on the one hand, is capital in order to maximize the profits of R&D; on the other hand, it also needs to accumulate profits and invest in R&D.

In other words, technological innovation is profit-oriented and profit-oriented. Therefore, in the "pre-technological innovation era", technological innovation is driven by "profit conscious".

From profit consciousness to technical consciousness

  At this stage, technological progress and industrial structure transformation are more passively generated by the market in response to demand, rather than actively exploring demand and predicting technological trends.

Therefore, large traditional technology companies such as Kodak lack the sense of crisis of the rise of new technologies and the lack of awareness of the rapid rise of new technologies. Therefore, they tend to focus on their own fields instead of "technical awareness of the entire technological development process." ".

  After the technological explosion era, into the IT era, with the increasingly important position of technological innovation in the market, and the increasing demand for technological innovation by enterprises.

As far as capital and enterprises are concerned, only by acquiring new technologies can they survive and have examples.

Profits have become a "by-product" of innovation, and everything revolves around innovation.

It is no longer "profit consciousness" that drives technological innovation, but "technical consciousness".

  In the Internet age, the "financing-listing" model appeared.

Under this model, new technologies receive venture capital and rely on venture capital to achieve technology research and development. There is no longer a need to wait for a long "profit-R&D" cycle.

Even, there is no need to deliberately extend this cycle for profit.

On the contrary, in order to gain greater recognition in the capital market, some companies will try to advance the technology as much as possible.

To some extent, this is the reason for the frequent emergence of black technology in the market in the past two decades.

To put it simply, 30 years ago, Intel, even with this technical strength, would not increase the performance of the CPU by 300% with each generation, but today, start-up technology companies that need capital market approval will try their best to come up with explosives.

Both Tesla and Falcon rockets are based on this model.

  Therefore, if innovation was only profitable in the past, now it is profitable only when there is innovation.

It is precisely because of this that we have seen that many companies can bear long-term losses and innovate with the support of capital in many aspects such as artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, and biotechnology.

  In fact, government departments have "technical awareness" earlier than enterprises.

  During World War II, the power of science and technology was fully demonstrated, which prompted the US government to "technological consciousness". At the request of President Roosevelt, the director of the Wartime Research and Development Agency, Vannival Bush, completed the title "Science-Endless "Science: The Endless Frontier" report, the famous Bush report, laid the ideological foundation for the post-war American science and technology policy.

  The basic idea of ​​the "Bush Report" is that basic research is essential to people's health, national security, and social welfare, and the government should assume a new responsibility: to promote scientific and technological innovation.

The report recommends: Establish an independent support organization that can guarantee a stable long-term plan and safeguard freedom of exploration-the National Science Foundation (NSF), and use universities as the center of support.

  With the development of technology, technology consciously began to gradually transfer from the government to the enterprise.

Grasp the pulse of innovation

  Many basic sciences are involved in the application research and development of enterprises.

For example, smaller and smaller chips, quantum computers, and artificial intelligence all involve the most cutting-edge basic technology; another example is artificial intelligence, which involves top cutting-edge consciousness such as consciousness.

In the past, these areas were promoted by the government's "technical consciousness" and supported by state funds. As a result, they were re-developed and applied to the market. It was a relatively slow process and had fallen behind the requirements of the market.

The market began to take the initiative to promote the development of basic science.

  As Wu Zhaohui said: "From the practice at home and abroad, more and more entrepreneurs are turning their attention to scientific and technological innovation, especially showing a strong interest in basic research from 0 to 1. This trend of the times will Accelerate the linkage of technological innovation, industrial innovation and social innovation, and promote innovation results to better serve economic and social development."

  For example, Huawei has established research institutes all over the world, and in its own fields, in artificial intelligence, communications, and chips, it has directly entered the level of basic science to meet its own rapid development needs.

Another example is that Chen Tianqiao donated US$1 billion to fund neuroscience research.

In 2012, Ma Huateng, together with a well-known investor in the technology industry and wealthy Russian businessman Yuri Milner, and Google founders Larry Page and Zuckerberg, set up a scientific breakthrough award to encourage breakthrough progress in related fields.

Pinduoduo and Zhejiang University set up the Fanxing Fund, with "computing +" as the core mission, in the fields of "computing + biomedicine", "computing + agricultural food" and "advanced computing", promoting the intersection of multiple disciplines, fields, and industries Fusion.

  The basic research areas that these funds and awards focus on used to be the responsibility of the government and universities, but now, new things such as the Star Science Fund are the product of cooperation between the government, universities and market forces.

More importantly, behind this kind of cooperation is not "profit consciousness" but "technical consciousness".

Only by grasping this can we grasp the new pulse of innovation of the times.

Just imagine, if Kodak actively carried out basic research on "photography + optoelectronics", "photography + storage" and "photography + computer", what would happen to the mobile photography and professional photography market today?

(The author is a researcher at the Shanghai Institute of Finance and Law)

  Author: Liu Yuanju