While William Bao Bean said in a recent interview that we should Expect More Digital Garages in China, Vivek Wadhwa disagrees, asserting that China is not innovating and has still has not moved beyond copycat status.
“China is simply unable to innovate,” said Wadhwa, a Harvard fellow and Duke University professor. A former technology entrepreneur, Wadhwa now specializes in studying business creativity and innovation.
China’s tech economy is built on copycats that totally lack any sort of innovation, particularly given the amount of money spent on research and development by companies and the government in China, Wadhwa said.
As to Bao Bean’s assertion that creativity and digital garages will be inspired in part by the high level of investment brought in by foreign venture capitalists, Wadhwa said: “There is a lot of money being wasted by a lot of VCs in China.”
China’s younger generation is extremely creative, but those running China’s research and development are not bringing anything new, Wadhwa said.
Asked for numbers to back this assertion, Wadhwa said that the numbers tell the exact opposite story. China files a large number of patents and produces a large number of research-related papers, but there are few actual innovations coming out.
Nonetheless, those good number hide a total lack of creativity, based on Wadhwa’s qualitative analysis.
Wadhwa said the exact opposite seems to be true in India, where relatively little is invested in research and development. India has fewer patents and papers than China, but the country is building itself into a innovation powerhouse.
The fundamental difference, Wadhwa said, is that Indian engineers are encouraged to think beyond their narrow role and build more innovation into their activities.