Is the Landscape of Science and Technology Shifting Eastward?

Area of Scanning: Economic System

Author: Jean Kunz

What is Changing?

Japan is already a leader in technology and innovation. With the economic ascent of China and India, coupled with other ‘Asian Tigers’ such as Korea, and Singapore, the flow of science and innovation is gradually shifting toward the East. These countries are currently investing heavily in biotechnology, genomics, alternative energy, AI, robotics, information and communications technologies. Governments play a key role in investing in R&D, as well as the training and attraction of highly qualified personnel. Research is also underway in China to understand the potential genetic factors contributing to human intelligence. China, Japan, and South Korea are leading countries in patent applications. While at present, most Asian countries are primarily adopting existing technologies from the west, mostly the US and Europe, in 15 years they may be the leaders in some of the fields.


Asian countries, especially China and India, will step up efforts to make their cities attractive to highly trained professionals (e.g., cleaner environment, less bureaucracy, favorable tax measures, stable political environment). Large Asian S&T companies will also expand globally, setting up branches in developed countries to tap into local talents. As holders of a large number of patents, Asian countries will step up efforts to protect Intellectual Property (IP). Advances in technology (e.g., genomics), coupled with intense global competition, could give rise to a range of societal issues such as genetic discrimination. While investment in S&T from Asia can stimulate competition, new measures of IP protection could stifle innovation if they were too rigid.


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