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Large corporations to collaborate in innovation

Updated: 2013-09-12 14:32
By HE WEI in Dalian (

Multinational corporations in China are tipped to ride the urbanization boom by collaborating on industry innovation and help the country move up the value chain, a senior executive said.

China's current slowdown is only a "temporary dip", as the underlying factors of the economy, namely the urbanization drive and expansion of the middle class, are both positive signals for further growth momentum, said Feike Sijbesma, chair of the Industry Innovation Summit and Ocean Global Agenda Councils at the Summer Davos in Dalian.

Urbanization will see issues emerging such as pollution and resource management. China will need to embrace alternative energy to bolster growth, which means more innovation is needed, said Sijbesma, who also serves as the chief executive officer of Royal DSM NV, a Dutch chemical company that focuses on health, nutrition and materials products.

"Years ago, you may have had companies that exerted an impact locally but few with global influence. Today, we see companies that have bank accounts in several countries. That means these companies can do a great deal for communities or, equally, create disasters," he said.

Therefore, the private sector should leverage opportunities to share technology and present a joint new mindset for industry upgrades, he argued.

He said the government has taken major steps toward private-public partnership in addressing such trends. For instance, 14 company executives from leading multinational corporations, including Sijbesma, have been selected on the Global CEO Council of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

The platform is designed on the theme of how to improve mutual understanding for common and sustainable development especially in the areas of innovation and urbanization, by taking into account the importance of new investments and development being pursued in a green and sustainable fashion and the need for an improved growth process.

"By listening to the good practices from companies, the Chinese government has sent out a strong signal that it is to open to suggestions in achieving industry innovation and a circular economy," said Sijbesma.

The prospective consumption-led growth also fuels new business opportunities for high-tech companies like DSM, he noted. The massive rural-to-urban population shift means soaring demand for nutrition and packaged foods, where companies like DSM have an edge.

The company designs products that make solar cells more efficient by reducing the extent of reflection. This allows for an increase in the blade size of windmills to generate more energy. This technology also means that cars can be lighter, consuming less fuel and emitting less carbon dioxide.

Sijbesma said the firm will remain fully "committed" to China, by building the company's largest caprolactam, an organic compound, plant in Nanjing and will increase sales points in rural areas and enhance its China research and development center.