On 30 August 2019, the Ministry of Education published the Management Measures for the Establishment of Frontiers Science Centres (Jiao Ji Han  No. 57). Frontiers Science Centres are facilities established within universities which gather top-notch teams and talents to conduct key basic research in fields at the frontiers of science. The document illustrates the standards and procedures through which Frontiers Science Centres are selected, evaluated, established, operated, and supervised.
The Ministry of Education is the line body for the overall organisation, management and supervision of Frontiers Science Centres, defining priorities, granting administrative and financial support, and organising experts’ evaluations. Frontiers Science Centres must meet the following requirements:
- Research field and direction: emerging, cross-disciplinary and potentially revolutionary direction at the frontiers of science, or a key vital strategic field;
- Research capacities: already amongst the highest in China, and amongst the most advanced internationally, with scientific achievements which have received international recognition;
- Teams and talents: possession of at least 30 researchers, and of internationally renowned leaders and PIs – each leading a team of 3-5 researchers;
- Development prospects: good prospects of achieving major breakthroughs, for instance achieving original creations going “from 0 to 1”, or opening new research directions through new theories;
- Space, investment, and resources: at least 10,000 m2 of independent and relatively concentrated research space; stable investment flows, at least 50 million RMB per year; ad hoc policies and management mechanisms for talent recruitment and growth, scientific management, and evaluation and assessment.
The first step for the establishment of a Frontiers Science Centre is for candidate universities to formulate a detailed plan (clearly specifying the research field and direction, management and operation mechanisms, etc.) and submit it to the Ministry of Education. After a pre-approval, the applicant will seek strategic advice and counsel from external experts on the feasibility of the plan. MOE will then organise an experts’ evaluation, on the basis of which it will decide whether or not the applicant centre will be approved for trial establishment. The establishment period ends after 5 years after an evaluation organised by MOE.
The document also outlines the requirements for centres in terms of management and operations structure, e.g. appointment of a director, KPIs, talent attraction and growth mechanisms, etc.