Which companies are riding the Chinese science boom?

Staying strong amidst the fray. 

  • Gemma Conroy

Which companies are riding the Chinese science boom?

Staying strong amidst the fray.

12 November 2019

Gemma Conroy

Misha Freidman/Getty

Douglas McClure, manager of Quantum System Deployement at IBM, working on the Q System One quantum computer.

US-China relations are feeling the strain from political tensions, economic tariffs, and concerns over academic espionage, but the countries have remained tight scientific partners.

Joint articles produced by American and Chinese institutions continue to grow, and US researchers remain the partners of choice for Chinese researchers.

In the Nature Index, more than half of China’s top corporate collaborators internationally are from the US.

American tech giant, IBM, takes first place among the top 10 international corporate institutions ranked by collaborative articles with Chinese institutions in journals tracked by Nature Index, 2012-2018.

IBM has published a total of 85 papers with Chinese institutions since 2012, followed by US biopharmaceutical multinational, Amgen, at rank two, with 44 collaborative papers.

American biotechnology product development company, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Switzerland’s Novartis International AG share third place, both with a collaborative article count of 37.

Formosa Plastics Group in Taiwan tops a separate ranking of the top 10 corporate institutions according to their number of Chinese collaboration partners.

The Taiwanese company had the most institutional partners from mainland China between 2012 and 2018, with 63. US companies took out four out of the top 5 places, and seven of the top 10.

Although corporate research output has fallen over the last three decades, the number of collaborations between corporate and academic institutions in the Nature Index more than doubled from 12,672 partnerships in 2012 to 25,962 in 2016, reflecting the global trend of companies outsourcing their research to academic institutions.