In addition to the national level, several innovation funding programmes and financial incentives are also established and offered by local governments at all levels – starting from the provincial-level (including from different departments/commissions), going through municipal-level, and ending with county-level and district-level governments. High-tech zones and industrial parks often also have their own programmes for actors established within their boundaries.
Local funding programmes replicate the structure existing at the national level, where:
- Local S&T departments/commissions (local equivalents of the Ministry of Science and Technology) mainly fund projects focusing on R&D, technology demonstration, or basic / applied research
- Local departments/commissions of economy and informatisation (local equivalents of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) mainly fund industrial/technological upgrading projects, purchase of new advanced equipment and products, etc.
- Local party bodies and foreign experts’ administrations mainly fund talent recruitment and attraction programmes, such as localised versions of the ‘Thousand Talents Plans’.
Local funding programmes are also generally divided into two typologies of programmes: one targeting local actors (to which affiliates of European entities are eligible to apply, together with European nationals employed by Chinese entities), and the other targeting international cooperation (to which only foreign entities based overseas and not in China can participate, in cooperation with a local actor which is the one submitting the application).
The eligibility requirements for programmes targeting local actors vary depending on the locality, programme and funding agency. A necessary requirement is to be registered, pay taxes, and possess independent legal personality in the corresponding locality and level of administration to which the application is submitted (e.g. Minhang district for applications to Shanghai municipal-level and Minhang district-level projects; Wuxi municipality for applications to Jiangsu provincial-level and Wuxi municipal-level projects; etc.). It is also noteworthy that, even if not explicitly required, stronger support tends to be given to projects in line with national or local development strategies and industries, and featuring a high level of technological and innovative content (possession of IPR such as patents and software or core technologies in the corresponding area are always preferred – if not required). Programmes from S&T commissions/departments tend to feature requirements on ‘conditions for innovation’, i.e. factors such as R&D workforce, R&D spending as % of revenue, value of high-tech assets and facilities, etc.; programmes from economy and informatisation commissions/departments tend to require additional funding and financial commitment from the applicant, exceeding specific amounts.
The degree of transparency and international participation also vary significantly from region to region.
Under this project, funding from the following localities will be monitored and tracked: