Asian Business & Management

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 461–489 | Cite as

From lab to market? Strategies and issues in the commercialization of nanotechnology in China

Original Article


Nanotechnology is expected by many to be one of the next drivers of technology-based business and economic growth. China has emerged as a global player in nanotechnology development, and now ranks second (after the United States) in nanotechnology scientific publications produced annually. The study of nanotechnology offers a lens to examine China's capabilities to move closer to the frontier of technology-led economic development, explore the evolving Chinese innovation system, and assess the effectiveness of policy strategies to modernize and add-value to research and industry in China. Supported by new policy initiatives and funding, hundreds of institutions and thousands of researchers in China are engaged in nanotechnology R&D. Yet, although Chinese nanotechnology research has scale, the pathways from laboratory research to successful commercialization remain problematic. Chinese performance in nanotechnology patenting and product development is weak relative to its research strength, suggesting a significant gap between the research base and industrial development. Drawing on bibliometric research and field interviews with Chinese nanotechnology policymakers, researchers and business representatives, we analyze this gap, explore the factors contributing to it and assess future commercialization trajectories.


nanotechnology R&D technology transfer commercialization industrial innovation China 



This research was supported by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University (CNS-ASU) under National Science Foundation Award 0531194. The findings in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Li Tang greatly assisted in the organization and conduct of field research.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School, University of ManchesterUK
  2. 2.School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Public AdministrationFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  4. 4.Georgia Tech Program in Science, Technology and Innovation PolicyAtlantaUSA

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