Since the establishment of the reform and opening-up policy, Tsinghua University has been actively engaging in the transformation of technological results. Carrying out technological collaboration with domestic local regions and providing support for national and regional economic development are an important component of not only Tsinghua’s technology transfer strategy, but also its commitment to providing social service through technology development.
University-region technological collaboration at Tsinghua University was initiated in the 1980s. In recent years, with the national development of western regions, the revitalization of north-east industrial bases, and the economic rise of the central regions, Tsinghua has been reinforcing its in-depth collaboration with these national strategic development regions, and further extending its program of university-region collaboration. The collaboration now includes strategic regional economic and social development, joint-cultivation of innovative talents, development of regional special industries and backbone industries, construction of innovation platforms, joint tackling of scientific and technological problems, and promotion of international collaboration.
Focusing on advanced manufacturing and serving the development of local economy and school disciplines, Tsinghua and Foshan City jointly established the first virtual research institute: Tsinghua University–Foshan Institute for Advanced Manufacturing, the first of its kind jointly set up by Tsinghua and a local government. A host of project cooperation has been launched since the establishment.
Specific Modes of University-Region Collaboration
1) Driving industry-university research collaboration through projects
In recent years, the Domestic R&D Management Office has been actively promoting technology transfer of Tsinghua’s key research results to cooperative regions and enterprises. Some successful cases include China’s first independently designed large-scale OLED production line in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province; the large-scale application and commercial operation of Thermal Engineering Department’s “Improvement of alkaline soil through desulfurization of coal” in provinces of Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Hebei and Tianjin; and the implementation of Mechanical Engineering Department’s “Big press machine” by the Northern Heavy Industries Group in Inner Mongolia and Yanliang Aviation Industry Base in Xi’an. In addition, Tsinghua provided many planning support for regional development, such as Environment School’s “Emergency aid system for production safety and environmental pollution outburst in the Tianjin Lingang Industrial Area”, Industrial Engineering Department’s “Logistics development plan for chemical industry in Tianjin Lingang Industrial Area”, School of Economics and Management’s “Functional orientation, architectural scale and development mode research for CBD in Binhai New District” in Tanggu, the core area of Binhai New District. Such transfer of such key scientific research projects provides great scientific and technological support for regional economic development, and has provided great social and economic benefits.
2) Establishing university-region scientific and technological collaboration funds
To better serve both national and regional economic development needs,, Tsinghua University has been actively integrating various resources to promote the transformation and industrialization of scientific and technological results by setting up scientific and technological collaboration funds with regional governments in Wuxi, Hebei, Yunnan and Guangdong. In each case, the collaboration fund is tailored to meet specific local requirements and follows the principles of either “led by local government, benefiting enterprises directly” or “co-led by university and local government, benefiting the university and enterprises jointly”. The innovative “fund + base” mode established by Tsinghua University provides an important guarantee for the effective operation of university-region collaboration, of which the basic concept is to use specific funds to support transformation projects, and to facilitate the transfer of scientific and technological results into actual productivity gains. In addition to these funds, Tsinghua has also endeavored to set up several R&D and industrialization bases. As a result, Tsinghua University and regional governments have set up 7 such funds: the Suzhou-Tsinghua Innovative Leading Project, the Hebei-Tsinghua science and technology cooperative development fund, the Yunnan-Tsinghua science and technology collaboration fund, the Anshan-Tsinghua R&D seed money fund, the Wuxi-Tsinghua science and technology results transformation fund, the industry-university-research project fund of the Ministry of Education in Guangdong, and the Tongling-Tsinghua industry-university-research collaboration fund. These efforts have not only supported the industrialization of Tsinghua’s scientific and technological results, but also made a significant contribution to national and social development.
3) Jointly establishing“industry-university research collaboration offices” with key regions
In 2003, to further strengthen Tsinghua University's social service outreach, the Domestic R&D Management Office initiated a new cooperative mode by jointly setting up industry-university-research collaboration offices with regional technological departments.
The goal of these offices is to better utilize Tsinghua and its partner cities’ advantageous resources, to reinforce their technological collaboration, and to accelerate the partner cities innovation and transition development.
The main role of each office is to provide support for regional economic development and to reinforce the region’s independent innovative capacity. Focusing on the specific industrial, technological and economic needs of the partner city, the offices integrate Tsinghua’s scientific and technological resources to provide both general and customized services, and to promote the sustainable development of both sides.
Role of “industry-university research collaboration offices”
Regularly organize technological events according to the needs of both local governments and local enterprises, and help establishing projects with a strong technological innovation component, a prosperous market vista and a solid industry-university research collaboration foundation.
Organize relevant experts to examine and evaluate the current situation of enterprises and investigate the potential for technological and managerial innovation.
Utilize Tsinghua's intellectual resources to provide support for local governments’ planning and decision-making according to local requirements.
Utilize Tsinghua's extensive international technological cooperative resources to actively introduce international high-tech projects in targeted regions.
Organizing and attending technology transfer events
Each year, the Domestic R&D Management Office carries out over 120 activities to introduce and promote technological projects and products.