Former Google China Chief Kai Fu Lee: China CAN Lead In Innovation

kai fu lee

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A common complaint about China is that while it may be great at copying products (and sometimes not even so great at that), it will never be a real innovator and develop new products.But Kai Fu Lee, the former head of Google China, disagrees in a recent LinkedIn post. He says that we need to broaden our definition of innovation beyond sea-change developments to include smaller, but still important, creative improvements.

He emphasises that innovation in China, much like many endeavours in China, needs to be understood and approached from a Chinese context. And knowing where to look for Chinese innovation and how to maximise their strengths in innovation can be very valuable for a company.

He goes on to list a couple areas where Chinese led innovation have a lot of potential:

  • Areas with Chinese government subsidies – like alternative energy 
  • Areas where innovation “can be derived by exhaustive experimentation” – like pharmaceuticals

He also lists a couple of good approaches to innovation in China:

  • Hard-work and solid foundation for long-term development as opposed to risk-taking and out-of-the-box approaches for immediate innovation
  • Western-trained researchers leading teams in China

Lee’s points are very much in line with the standard approach to China as a place where hard-work and long-term approaches are prioritised but he clarifies how these can be utilized for innovation.

Read the whole post at LinkedIn.

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