Insights into Chinese patent filing

China-nostnews-tagcloudThe Netherlands Office for Science & Technology (NOST) in China has conducted an extensive study into patent filing by companies and academic institutions in China. Nowadays China files more patents than any other country in the world. In this study twelve different technology fields have been analyzed. These fields account for one third of the total invention patent applications in China.

Although many studies and reports on patent filing in China have been published, few provide practical insights in technology hotspots, top players,  the role of state-owned enterprises and strong technology fields.

The findings are presented in an overview article and twelve factsheets on the following technology fields:

  1. Basic materials chemistry
  2. Biotechnology
  3. Electrical machinery, apparatus, energy
  4. Macromolecular chemistry, polymers
  5. Medical technology
  6. Micro-structural and nanotechnology
  7. Optics
  8. Organic fine chemistry
  9. Renewable energy generation
  10. Semiconductors
  11. Surface technology, coating
  12. Transport and automotive

To obtain a digital copy of the overview article and the factsheets, please contact

HAMR2: How to get lean?

On Thursday September 4th, members of the Holland Advanced Machinery and production Rotation (HAMR) gathered for the second time. This meeting took place in Suzhou, at Tecnotion, a Dutch former Philips spin-off that specializes in the design and production of linear motors. Tecnotion’s devices are used in high-precision robots used in a wide range of industries, such as chip manufacturing, printing, and life science and health technologies.

Mr. Michel Heck hosted the event, and took the opportunity to discuss his ambitions with respect to introducing lean manufacturing and 5S in his company. Michel provided the attendees with numerous on-site challenges that his company faces, and provided a detailed company tour. According to Michel’s vision, lean methods are essential for a safe and healthy environment, where production is high, scrap is low, and costs are reduced. The audience agreed; though stressed that towards personnel, the management should focus on practicalities, not on the theory. And, especially in this area of the world, the management should set the example and show presence and  involvement in the workplace.

In an open discussion, attendees reflected upon their own experience in optimizing the workflow in their own companies. Apart from lean manufacturing issues, sourcing was also shortly discussed. Quality control was a point of debate: some – larger – companies had dedicated teams to perform checks at the suppliers’ site, which has lead to decreased cost and increased batch quality over time. In line with the idea behind the HAMR platform, its members made arrangements to further discuss collaboration on this topic.

The Netherlands Office for S&T in Shanghai has established HAMR in order to provide the relevant company leaders with an open platform to discuss market and management experiences in the Yangtze delta. The third meeting will focus on employee turnover and hosted by Mr. Bas Kreukniet of NTS-Group.

Opening by Sam Linsen. No picture of the host is provided due to sensitive company info.

Opening by Sam Linsen. No picture of the host is provided due to private company info.



PM series: Nanoporphyrin

In a short series, we will focus on various topics on personalized medicine in China. Second in this series: personalized nano-medicine.

A group of Chinese and American researchers recently published a paper in Nature Communications on a nano-particle with a high potential in diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. The investigators designed particles, consisting of  nanoporphyrins,  to specifically target tumors in mice. When applied in vivo, these nano-particles revealed a broad range of clinically relevant properties. Applications ranged from diagnosis to treatment, as particles:

– enhanced the visibility of tumors by imaging techniques such as MRI and PET;

– could be activated on-site to produce heat or oxygen radicals to destroy tumor cells;

– could act as vehicles for targeted drug delivery in tumors.

All together, the investigators developed a versatile platform that is likely to find its application in patient-specific cancer diagnostics and treatment. It works in mice, and a successful application in humans is anticipated.





PM series: Cystic fibrosis links to diabetes

In a short series, we focus on various topics on personalized medicine (PM) in China. First in this series: a functional link between diabetes and cystic fibrosis, reported by researchers from Hong Kong, Chengdu, Beijing and Tokyo.

Cystic fibrosis occurs when mutations in the CFTR gene hamper the function of the Cystic Fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. This leads to a “tough mucus” secretion in the lungs, and its most acute symptoms are therefore  shortness of breath. Indigestion is also a serious symptom, as organs in and around the gastrointestinal tract are affected as well. Without proper management, the respiratory and metabolic consequences of this disease are fatal at young age.

Despite the high frequency of diabetes in adult cystic fibrosis patients, the relationship between the two diseases is still hardly understood. Now, a consortium of Chinese/Japanese institutes has shown that the conductance regulator also regulates glucose-dependent electrical signaling in insulin-producing Beta cells. In other words, defects in the gene that lead to problems in mucus secretion also affect insulin secretion. As most Cystic Fibrosis patients develop insulin deficiency (belonging to the Type I Diabetes category), this finding indeed resolved an important missing link.

Whether the new insights also lead to new treatment options is not clear yet. The investigators have been able to focus at one specific gene mutant. Extrapolating their findings to known  >1900 mutations in the Cystic Fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene in humans is a daunting task. Nevertheless, in their mice model, they have not witnessed a destruction of pancreatic islets, where the Beta cells are located that produce insulin. If in patients, insulin secretion would also be decreased before islet are destroyed, timely anticipation could potentially provide leads to effective non-invasive treatment options.

A summary of the paper has been published here.

Cystic Fibrosis organs - from Wikipedia

BGI and Edinburgh start to synthesize

Following a MoU (memorandum of understanding) earlier this year, the University of Edinburgh and the BGI in Shenzhen have now started a collaborative project on synthetic biology.

This emerging discipline combines techniques in the sequencing and DNA synthesis fields to re-create and re-model entire chromosomes, that can replace the original chromosomes in host organisms such as yeast. As such, new platforms are created with a wide scope of applications, such as the production of proteins, nutrients, drugs and fuels, or fermentation processes.

In the Sino-Anglo collaborative project, researchers will focus on the re-creation of yeast chromosome VII as part of the Sc2.0 project, initiated by Johns Hopkins University and the first synthetic eukaryotic genome project.

The construction project is initially worth 1M pound and is largely supported by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences research council.

For further reading, please see here for the collaboration and here for the Sc2.0 project.

obtained from Sc2.0

obtained from Sc2.0

nanoparticles as catalysts

A group of scientists lead by the Xiamen-based investigator Nanfeng Zheng have developed nanoparticles that act as catalysts for the oxidation of CO (carbon monoxide) to CO2 (carbon dioxide).

Bringing two catalytic materials close to each other enables two separate reactions to occur simultaneously at almost the same location. The scientists used platinum nanocrystals covered with thin layers of iron hydroxide and nickel hydroxide, leaving gaps on the surface. Iron hydroxide ion combination with platinum can efficiently oxidize CO to CO2. Without nickel, this reaction is however unstable and intermediates are quickly dehydrated.

The nanoparticle catalyst proved efficient at room temperature and was stable for long periods, up to one month.

(adopted from nature China and Science)





AkzoNobel invests in Coatings R&D lab in Shanghai.

The Colour Run In Beijing

AkzoNobel is expanding its Songjiang research site near Shanghai with a facility devoted to the company’s Performance Coatings businesses. The focus of the center will be on finding innovative solutions aimed at packaging, coil, specialty finishes, and powder coatings markets. The company invested more than 6.5 million in the center and plans to have it finished by June 2015.

With the expanded research center AkzoNobel will increase its capability and capacity to serve the growing Asian demand and fulfill the company’s desire to grow. Currently the Chinese region generates around €1.6 billion revenues for the company. The new facility enables the company to innovate closer to its Chinese customer base and accelerate the development of products adapted specifically to the Asian market.

The Songjiang site near Shanghai was already recently expanded to create one of AkzoNobel’s largtest resin plants for performance coatings in the world. The new facility will double the number of people working in R&D at Songjiang and will be the company’s second largest research base in the world, behind Felling in the UK.

By Annemieke Zuurman

Source: AkzoNobel

China supercomputer world’s fastest

China has the world’s most powerful supercomputer for the third time in a row as the country once again ups its presence in the global top 500 of powerful computers. The computer with the name Tianhe-2 was top of the twice-yearly list that keeps tabs on supercomputer development and growth.

The top performing computer, Tianhe-2, had its power measured at 33.86 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second). It has been just five years since IBM’s Roadrunner became the first computer to break the 1 petaflop/s mark. That machine was shut down in 2013 due to excessive power consumption.

tianhe2 or Milky Way2 in Guanzhou

China had 76, up from 63 in the last count. This is almost as many as the UK (30), France (27) and Germany (23) combined. The full list will be published on Monday at a conference in Leipzig, Germany. The top500 list is a widely-recognized barometer of the state of worldwide supercomputing. It has been published twice yearly since 1993.

Tianhe-2 is owned by the Chinese government and operated by the National University of Defense Technology. It is used as a “research and educational” tool.


HAMR Platform launched successfully.


Yesterday afternoon the first edition of HAMR took place at the Holland High Tech Center in Suzhou.

The Holland Advanced Machinery and Production Rotation (HAMR) is an initiative by NOST Shanghai to connect Dutch companies within this industry. The platform fulfills the need for these firms to connect and share industry know-how. The Advanced Machinery sector is facing various challenges in China, for instance; high turnover rates of personnel, training, talent management and legal issues, dealing with suppliers, establishing a healthy company-infrastructure and business development on the local market. These challenges are mostly dealt with on an individual basis.

The objective of the HAMR platform is for companies to connect and share experiences on these challenges. The platform aims to create an informal atmosphere to ease communication between members. Yesterday started off with two presentations by the Holland High Tech Center and Nanopolis. Afterwards, the Dutch concept of a ‘borrel’ was introduced to the participants which led to lively discussions and new contacts. The hosting of the event will be rotated among members, so everyone gains the opportunity to present their company.


By Annemieke Zuurman

Impressions: _DSC6202_副本 _DSC6209_副本 _DSC6230_副本

Open access for Chinese publications within 12 months

The National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have announced a new open access policy for academic researchers (see CAS statement). All articles that are based on governmental Science and Technology programs, as well as all  publicly funded projects should become accessible to everyone within 12 months after publication. This is either achieved via the publishers, and universities will also provide access via their own repositories to which researchers upload their published manuscripts.

Open access has become a subject of debate on a global scale. In the recent years, open access publishing groups like the Public Library of Science (Plos) and Biomed central (BMC) have gained both impact as well as popularity, and originally closed publishers such as the Nature publishing group have also opened a number of open journals.

The aim of an open access policy is to enhance knowledge and global involvement in the scientific community. CAS and NSFC made the announcement a week prior to the Global Research Council, a platform for major funding agencies worldwide, which was organised in Beijing in the end of May.