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National Basic Research Program of China(973 Program)

Basic research is a driving force for the progress of human civilization, a source and backbone of S&T and economic development, a precursor of inventions and new technology, and a cradle of S&T talents. Continuous fast socio-economic growth imposes increasingly higher demands on basic research while many scientific issues press for solutions derived from in-depth basic research. Significant breakthroughs from basic research often trigger remarkable changes in economic and social sectors. On June 4, 1997, the State Science and Education Steering Group decided to formulate ¡°The National Plan on Key Basic Research and Development¡± and organize the implementation of the ¡°National Program on Key Basic Research Project (973 Program)¡±. The purpose of these two initiatives was to strengthen basic research in line with national strategic targets.

1. Orientation

Based on the existing basic research programs conducted by the National Natural Science Foundation and early-stage basic research key projects, the 973 Program organize and implement key projects to meet the national strategic needs. The strategic objective of the Program is to mobilize China¡¯s scientific talents in conducting innovative research on major scientific issues in agriculture, energy, information, resources and environment, population and health, materials, and related areas. This is in accordance with the objectives and tasks of China¡¯s economic, social, and S&T development goals leading up to 2010 and the mid 21st century. The Program will build up a solid S&T foundation for the sustainable socio-economic development of our nation. Through the implementation of the Program, a contingent of scientific talents will be trained and a number of high-level national research bases will be established to upgrade the primary innovative capacity of the nation.

2. Major Tasks

During the 10th Five-year Plan period, the 973 Program adopts a people-oriented approach to perform the basic task of enhancing innovation capacity.

1) Strengthen and support research on a number of major scientific issues concerning national socio-economic development.

In line with national strategic demands, the Program continues to strengthen major basic researches in agriculture, energy, information, resources and environment, population and health, materials, and other areas. It promotes research and innovation in order to seek breakthroughs in major frontier fields of far-reaching and strategic importance, such a life science, nano-technology, information technology, earth sciences, etc. It also reinforces comprehensive cross-disciplinary research and innovative integration to develop new ideas, concepts, inventions, and theories so as to lay a solid foundation for the ¡°leap-frog¡± advancement of social productivity.

2) Consolidate a highly qualified contingent for basic research and cultivate a number of personnel with innovative capabilities.

Establish and adhere to the strategic principle - ¡°people-oriented¡± to vigorously practice a talent strategy. Play the full in stabilizing key personnel while nurturing reserve forces by providing more support to research communities led by young and middle-aged scientists. Adopt effective measures to create a people-oriented environment that will cultivate generations of talents by using the project as the cord, the base as the backbone and human resources as the core. Introduce high caliber personnel from overseas, promote international exchanges and cooperation, encourage and support a number of established scientists with organizational skills and international influence to play a role in the global arena, thereby raising China¡¯s international S&T status.

3) Improve and perfect program management to create a sound environment for primary innovation.

Establish and improve a scientific assessment and management system to serve innovation, overcome the folly of pursuing short-term and quick results. Encourage scientists to courageously explore new research fields and guide them in conducting innovative researches in line with national demands and the scientific frontiers.

3. Organization and Management

1) Project Management

Projects under the Program adopt a system in which chief scientist and team leader take responsibilities. The budget management consists of total amount sub-contracts budgeting, process control and total cost accounting. The combination realizes an organic combination of the management system and the budget pattern for the creation of a sound and innovation-friendly environment.

2) Management Mechanism Combining Government Decisions and Expert Consultation

Set up a high-level advisory group of senior experts in charge of consultancy, assessment, and supervision of the Program to ensure its scientific, democratic, and fair implementation.

3) Strengthen Process Management and Establish Supervision Mechanisms for Project Operation.

Practice the ¡°2+3¡± management pattern. After two years of operation, a project receives a mid-term evaluation to determine its development plan for the following three years. Advisory groups of specific fields are put in place to follow and manage the project advancement while providing advice and suggestion to the Ministry of Science and Technology. This will facilitate the smooth realization of prescribed goals.