【China Daily】Visiting professors ’stimulate innovation’ in industry

Date:2015-5-27 From:China Daily

Closer collaboration between universities and industry can better prepare students for China’s economic changes, according to Li Qiang, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Tsinghua University.

The State Council recently allowed professors to take leave from their research posts to work in various industries, a move aimed at stimulating professors’ enthusiasm, Li said at a symposium earlier this month on China’s workforce readiness.

The idea that university professors could leave academia and enter industry for a time was once very popular in China, Li said. It was called xiahai in Chinese, meaning jumping into the business world.

However, the numbers receded amid the central governments’ anti-corruption battle. The issue has emerged again because the effect is to "stimulate innovation," Li said, adding that elsewhere in the world it is common for university professors to collaborate with business enterprises during periodic leaves of absence.

"They are shareholders in some enterprises," Li said.

The anti-corruption effort bars public officials from personal gain at public expense, but professors are not public officials, he said.

The State Council released a guideline on May 3 on employment and entrepreneurship. This allows professors and researchers from universities and research institutes to leave their research posts temporarily to work in enterprises. The idea is to introduce their innovative ideas into the market, while stimulating their enthusiasm for innovation.

Visiting professors ’stimulate innovation’ in industry

Researchers on temporary leave can have social insurance, promotion prospects and titles for three years, the guideline states.

"If professors can go to the actual production workforce and practice their research results, they are the best candidates to turn the results into productive output," Li said.

Li’s sentiments were echoed by leaders from government, business and academia at the symposium, which was organized by the Asia Society Hong Kong Center.

Experts also highlighted how China’s transition from a manufacturing-led economy to greater consumption is creating new requirements for the workforce.

Wang Huiyao, president of the Center of China and Globalization(CCG), said education in entrepreneurship could create more jobs.

Investor Xu Xiaoping said, "Innovation is where I see job increases and hope for the next generation."

The new economy stimulates employment, he said. "Lots of new jobs, job skills and job sense are created."(By Luo Wangshu)