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'Open innovation' key to nation's growth, Nobel laureate says

Updated: May 10, 2021

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Edmund Phelps, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics and a professor of Columbia University, makes a video address to the New Industrial Revolution Forum, on May 10, 2021. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Strengthening international collaboration to make innovations, or the practice of "open innovation", may help China become an innovation-driven economy and cross the middle-income trap, said Nobel laureate Edmund Phelps on Monday.

China needs indigenous innovation if it is to escape from the middle-income trap, yet sorely relying on the dynamism of its own society may not be sufficient for achieving high-value innovation, said Phelps, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics and a professor at Columbia University.

"Achieving the more valuable innovations may entail a great deal of highly specialized knowledge or a great deal of expensive experimentation. The occasional practice of 'open innovation' is, as I see it, a response to this difficulty," he said.

Collaborating with overseas enterprises to innovate may be "promising" in cases where obstacles are posted by large costs of exploration and experimentation, Phelps said.

The Nobel Prize winner also fully recognized the value of the great deal of innovation made by ordinary people.

"'Open innovation' is a great idea in a project aiming for high innovation or advanced innovation. Yet it will not substitute for enlisting a massive number of people down to the grassroots. It will be important to make progress on both of these fronts," he said.

Phelps made the remarks in his video address to the New Industrial Revolution Forum, hosted by Xiamen municipal government and the New Development Bank, and organized by Xiamen Torch University.


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