The National Natural Science Foundation of China, the country’s main foundation for basic scientific research, will continue reforms to cultivate innovative talents and groundbreaking scientific work, officials said on June 19.
New procedures for promoting academic evaluation and honesty, as well as strengthening interdisciplinary and international collaboration, are also in the pipeline and will be tested in selected projects and institutions in 2019, said Li Jinghai, the foundation’s director, at a meeting on June 19.
Wang Zhigang, minister of science and technology, said the foundation should focus on supporting projects that can solve major and key challenges regarding China’s socioeconomic development and national security.
Wang also asked them to pay greater attention to basic research, optimize institutional management, strengthen social services using new technologies and uphold academic honesty.
“Right now, we are on the verge of major breakthroughs for the next technological revolution and industrial change, and we cannot afford to miss these opportunities like we did previously,” Li said.
The foundation will formulate reforms to better support advanced science fields that can breed major breakthroughs, and nurture world-class talents to enhance basic research and its applications, thus solving major obstacles, Li said.
Examples of the reform include a revamping of the application, evaluation, funding, management and supervision processes of the foundation’s resources. Parts of the reform will be implemented in selected scientific projects next year, he said.
The foundation will create new mechanisms for funding and integrating different disciplines and their scientific applications, as well as building a smart evaluation system powered by artificial intelligence and other modern technologies, he added.
The foundation will also establish a strategic counseling committee, starting next year, to study research priorities, resource allocations and major scientific issues, Li said.
Training innovative talents will be a priority for the foundation, Li said, and a more comprehensive talent support system is in the works, alongside a mechanism that links basic research, applied research and commercialization.
The foundation’s budget grew from 16.1 billion yuan ($2.49 billion) in 2013 to 26.7 billion yuan last year and has helped more than 739,000 researchers throughout China, according to its annual report.
Globally, the foundation has funded 4,398 science projects and has partnered with more than 91 scientific foundations from 49 countries and regions.