Materials science funding in China has quadrupled since 2008, with the number of Chinese publications on materials science growing accordingly, tripling between 2006 and 2017 to 40,000. In 2015, for example, approximately 1 in every 9 scientific papers published by Chinese scientists was about materials science.
In 2016, the government established the Materials Genome Engineering (MGE) initiative, aiming to accelerate Chinese innovation of new materials. Two key goals of the MGE is to create a centralized software platform that provides data mining and instant feedback capabilities to companies on how materials work, as well as the production of enhanced materials that are manufactured rapidly and are cost effective.
In addition, materials science receives the second-highest level of funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC), following medical sciences. This is part of the government’s plan to drive innovation to new levels by 2020, which includes research projects such as exploring the moon and creating the first Chinese-designed passenger aircraft.
Last year, the NNFSC funded 701 projects with over CNY 2 billion ($297.9 million), including the MGE, nanotechnology and advanced electronic materials projects. Currently, China publishes the greatest number of high-impact research papers in the world in 23 fields, such as batteries, semiconductors, new materials and biotech.