Spotlight on Nanjing

Published as an Advertising Feature in Nature Volume 539, Number 7628, (10 November 2016)

试点改革推升中国的科教重镇

Experimental reforms boost China’s education epicentre

根据南京市有关政府部门的数据,南京现在有普通高校53所、省级以上科研机构400多家,而这座城市的人口约为800万,这里的每万人在校大学生数量全国第一。南京的教育和科研传统帮助这座城市度过了多个世纪的政治、社会和经济变迁。现在又有了新的政府支持的改革和刺激增长的措施,完全有理由相信这座城市将继续繁荣下去。

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Experimental reforms boost China’s education epicentre

试点改革推升中国的科教重镇

Educational and research pedigree, combined with a new governmental initiative, propels China’s historic “southern capital” to new heights.

教育和科研的传统,加上一个新的政府计划,使得中国历史名城“南京”达到新高度。

BY HUANG KUN and WANG JUEBIN

作者:黄堃、王珏玢

“IF I HAD a second life, I would still come back to China. And of all the cities in China, I would still choose Nanjing,” says Wu Xuefeng, an astrophysicist at the Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO), in China’s Jiangsu Province.

“如果再给我一次选择机会,我还会回到中国。而在中国所有城市中,我还会选择来南京。”吴雪峰说。他是位于中国江苏省的紫金山天文台的一名天体物理学家。

Wu was born in Jiangsu, and started his research career at the PMO in 2005 after graduating from Nanjing University. He left for further study in the US at the California Institute of Technology,Pennsylvania State University,and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, before returning to the observatory in 2011.

吴雪峰出生在江苏省,2005年从南京大学毕业后就进入紫金山天文台从事科研。其后,他曾到美国继续深造,历经加州理工学院、宾夕法尼亚州立大学、内华达大学拉斯维加斯分校等高校。2011年,他回到紫金山天文台。

One of his reasons for returning to Nanjing, the provincial capital of Jiangsu, is the make-up of the city. The cost of living and commuting isn’t as high as in Beijing and Shanghai, and the municipal government is constructing a number of new towns dedicated to science and education in the region. “Take Xianlin, the town where I live,” Wu says. “There are university buildings, for research, as well as apartments and shops. It takes 15 minutes to walk from home into my lab. I don’t have to worry about other things, and can dedicate myself to research.”

南京是江苏省的省会,吴雪峰回到这里的原因之一是这座城市的特质。南京的居住和交通成本没有北京和上海那么高,市政府还正在建设一些专用于科学和教育的新城区。“以我居住的仙林大学城为例,”吴雪峰说,“这里有许多高校的建筑,可以做科研,同时也有许多住宅和商店等配套设施。我从家走到实验室只要15分钟。我没有后顾之忧,可以心无旁骛地做研究。”

This is an unsurprising move in a region of China famed for its educational and research output. Since becoming the capital of the Wu Dynasty in 229 AD, Nanjing has been at the political centre of ten dynasties in Chinese history. In the recent Qing Dynasty, although China was governed from Beijing (“northern capital” in Mandarin, to Nanjing’s “southern capital”), more than half of the Zhuangyuan, the best performers in an exam held across the nation every three years, came from students taking the exam in Nanjing.

吴雪峰的举动在中国这个地区并不令人惊讶,这里本就以教育和科研闻名。南京自从在公元229年成为吴国都城后,在中国历史上曾是十个朝代的政治中心,被称作“十朝都会”。在不久之前的清朝,尽管中国的统治中心是北京(在中文里,北京的意思是“北方的都城”,而南京的意思是“南方的都城”),但清朝时中国一半以上的状元——这是每三年举行一次的全国性科举考试中表现最优异者,都出自南京江南贡院。

According to statistics from the Nanjing government, there are 53 universities and some 400 research institutes in Nanjing, which has a population of around eight million. The percentage of college students among residents here is the highest in China.

根据南京市有关政府部门的数据,南京现在有普通高校53所、省级以上科研机构400多家,而这座城市的人口约为800万,这里的每万人在校大学生数量全国第一。

“All the talents in those universities and institutes compose an excellent framework for doing research in Nanjing, where you can easily find collaborators in various subjects, and that’s the biggest attraction for me,” says Wang Xinran, a professor of electronic science and engineering at Nanjing University. After finishing his PhD at Stanford University in the US, then joining another two labs in the US as a postdoc, Wang came back to Nanjing in 2011 and has since published some 30 papers on new materials in journals including Physical Review Letters and Nature Communications. “After coming back to China, more than 80% of my important discoveries are from collaborations with other researchers in Nanjing,” he says.

“这些大学和科研机构中的人才资源,为南京形成了一个很好的科研环境,在这里可以很容易找到各个学科的合作伙伴,这是对我最大的吸引力,”王欣然说。王欣然现在是南京大学电子科学与工程学院教授,他在美国斯坦福大学获得博士学位,并在美国另两个实验室做过博士后。他在2011年回到南京,从那时起已经在《物理评论快报》、《自然-通讯》等刊物上发表了30余篇关于新材料的论文。“我在回国以后发表的重要成果中,80%以上都是与南京市其他合作者共同完成,”他说。

Nanjing University is the biggest player in the region, accounting for more than half of Nanjing's overall research output. “The University has a long history in basic research,” says Wen Hai-Hu, a professor of physics there. “It trained Wu Jianxiong, for example, who worked on the Manhattan Project and was nicknamed the first lady of physics. Nowadays, Nanjing University is performing well in a lot of subjects, such as in condensed matter physics.”

南京大学是这座城市中科研实力最强的机构,“自然指数”显示其科研产出占到南京市总产出的一半以上。“南京大学在基础科学研究方面有很深的底蕴,”南京大学物理学院教授闻海虎说,“比如这里曾培育出吴健雄,她曾参与曼哈顿计划,被称作‘物理学第一夫人’。目前,南京大学的许多学科都表现很好,比如在凝聚态物理研究方面。”

The city also boasts an astronomical legend in Wu Xuefeng’s institute — the Purple Mountain Observatory (see Observatory on a purple mountain).

这座城市还拥有一个天文学领域的传奇,这就是吴雪峰所在的机构——紫金山天文台(见“紫金山上的天文台”)。

Nanjing’s strength in science has won it a unique title — Experimental City of Comprehensive Reform of Science and Technology System. The system was launched by China’s central government in 2009 and Nanjing is still the only one with the title. “Nanjing is determined to grasp the opportunity of the reform,” says Huang Rong, a senior official in the Nanjing Municipal Science and Technology Commission (NMSTC), the body in charge of implementing policy changes to science in Nanjing.

南京在科研领域的实力为它赢得了一个独一无二的头衔——科技体制综合改革试点城市。这是中国中央政府2009年批准的改革试点,至今南京也是全国唯一一个此类试点。“南京市决心抓住科技体制改革试点的机遇,”南京市科学技术委员会副巡视员黄榕说。科委是南京负责实施相关改革政策的政府机构。

The reform is part of a larger country-wide strategy of “innovation driven development.” A series of policies have been outlined by the municipal government since 2009, including schemes to attract talent by increasing benefits for researchers, encouraging research investment by tax incentives, and allowing scientists at universities and institutes to start their own fulltime businesses while retaining their academic positions for up to three years.

南京的改革,是中国全国性的“创新驱动发展”战略的一个部分。南京市政府自2009年来出台了“科技九条”等一系列相关政策,如通过增强科研人员的福利待遇来吸引人才、通过税收优惠来鼓励研发投入,并允许高校和科研机构中的科技人员离岗创业,3年内保留其原有身份和职称。

The reform has boosted Nanjing’s research capability, and investment in science in the region has increased rapidly. “We have an annual special budget of more than one million yuan ($150,000) for buying the latest equipment in my lab — the National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructures at Nanjing University,” says Wang Xinran. “Even at Stanford they have old equipment. In terms of the research environment, we’re no longer worse than our international peers; we’re even better in many ways.” With that support, Wang’s group has made significant advancements, such as the epitaxy of high-quality two-dimensional small molecule crystals for a variety of device applications.

这场改革推升了南京的科研能力,这里的科研投入在快速增长。“在我所在的南京大学固体微结构物理国家重点实验室,每年有上百万元的专项经费用于采购全世界最先进的研究仪器,”王欣然说,“即使在斯坦福大学,使用的很多器材仍然是陈旧设备。从科研条件来说,现在我们绝不比国外差,很多地方还更好。”在这种支持下,王欣然的团队做出了许多重要成果,比如高质量的二维小分子晶体的外延生长,以及很多器件应用。

In some important projects, Nanjing is taking a leading role and attracts researchers from larger, wealthier cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Yuan Qiang, who worked at the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, chose to move to the PMO to continue his research. “We’re leading the project of the Dark Matter Particle Explorer satellite,” he says. The satellite, launched last December, is China’s first ever space observatory, and will use high-energy electrons and gamma rays to seek out dark matter; so far elusive to physicists and the rest of the scientific community.

在一些重大项目中,南京还处于领导地位,能从更大更富裕的城市如北京和上海吸引科研人员。袁强本来在位于北京的中国科学院高能物理研究所工作,他选择调动到紫金山天文台,因为“这里领导着暗物质卫星项目”。暗物质卫星是中国在去年12月发射的一颗卫星,它是中国第一个此类太空观测平台,将通过观测高能电子和伽马射线,来探测暗物质。对于全球物理学家和科学界来说,暗物质迄今一直是个难以捉摸的对象。

In line with the rest of the world economy banking on science to drive growth, the reform in Nanjing emphasizes translating science into business. One typical measure is the Scitech Innovation Voucher granted by the government to small companies, which can use the vouchers as cash to buy science and technology services.

正如全世界都在希望能通过科技进步推动经济增长,南京的改革也强调科研成果转化。一个典型举措就是政府推出的“科技创新券”,凡在南京市注册的科技型中小微企业均可申领,可用它像现金那样购买科技服务。

“This is of great help,” says Zhang Fengming, a professor of physics at Nanjing University. He founded a company producing silicon solar cells in 2012, but didn’t get his product to market until 2015. When the company needed cash to sustain its research, he applied for vouchers worth 200,000 yuan ($30,000). Now, he’s over the hump, and there are orders of 400 million yuan ($60 million) waiting for him.

“这帮了我们大忙,”张凤鸣说。他是南京大学物理学院教授,2012年创办了一家生产晶体硅太阳能电池的公司,但到2015年前都没有产品出来。在公司非常需要现金来维持研发的时候,他向政府申领了20万元科技创新券。现在,他已经度过了困难时期,目前在手订单4亿多元,年销售额可达2亿元左右。

Statistics from the NMSTC show that since 2014, when the vouchers were launched, 531 companies have applied for vouchers worth 125 million yuan ($18.50 million). That scheme has generated much more investment; expenditure in R&D in Nanjing almost doubled from 14.55 billion ($ 2.15 billion) in 2010 to 29 billion yuan ($ 4.3 billion) in 2015.

南京市科委数据显示,自从2014年“科技创新券”启动以来,共有531家企业申领了科技创新券1.25亿元。通过实施科技创新券计划,财政资金投入的乘数效应显著,南京市全社会研究与开发(R&D)经费由2010年的145.5亿元增加到2015年的290亿元,几乎翻了一番。

A growth of patents in the region is more proof that investment and government involvement is paying off. From 2010 to 2015, applications for invention grew at an annual rate of 25%. There were 27,173 effective Invention Patents (in China, patents are divided into categories) in 2015, which translates to an overall rate of 33 patents per 10,000 people in Nanjing.

这种资金投入和政府努力在产生效果的一个证据,是南京市专利数量的快速增长。从2010年到2015年,发明专利申请量实现了年均增长25%。截至2015年,全市有效发明专利(在中国,专利分为多个类别,发明专利是其中一类)数量为27173件,意味着南京市每万人有效发明专利拥有量达33件。

Nanjing’s educational and research pedigree has guided it through centuries of political, social, and economic change. With new government-backed reforms and growth incentives, there’s every reason to think that the city will continue to flourish.

南京的教育和科研传统帮助这座城市度过了多个世纪的政治、社会和经济变迁。现在又有了新的政府支持的改革和刺激增长的措施,完全有理由相信这座城市将继续繁荣下去。

Observatory on a purple mountain

紫金山上的天文台

The Purple Mountain (named after its colourful geology) lies to the east of Nanjing, and holds a special status in Chinese history. Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China, had his mausoleum built here. Years later, scientists also chose this as the site to establish China’s first modern astronomical institute — the Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO).

紫金山位于南京东郊,因山体上的紫色页岩而得名。它在中国历史上有特殊地位。现代中国之父孙中山选择在这里建设他的陵寝。后来,科学家又在这里建立了中国第一个现代天文学研究机构——紫金山天文台。

As the source of many subdisciplines of Chinese astronomy and subsequent astronomical institutes, the PMO is known in China as “the cradle of modern astronomy,” and is similarly respected in China as the Royal Greenwich Observatory is in the UK.

紫金山天文台是其后中国天文学许多子学科和天文学研究机构的发源地,被誉为“中国现代天文学的摇篮”。它在中国拥有令人尊敬的地位,类似格林尼治天文台在英国受到的尊敬。

“Carrying this historical mantle, we keep exploring new scientific frontiers,” says Wu Xuefeng, a research professor at the PMO. He explains that currently the PMO is still one of the major astronomical institutes of China, with about 300 researchers and technicians. “There are four research divisions here: dark matter and space astronomy; Antarctic astronomy and radio astronomy; applied celestial mechanics and space objects and debris research; and planetary sciences and deep space exploration.”

“带着这种历史荣誉,我们在继续探索科学前沿,”吴雪峰说。他是紫金山天文台的一名研究员。他介绍说现在紫金山天文台仍然是中国主要的天文学研究机构之一,拥有约300名科研和技术人员。“这里有4个研究部:暗物质和空间天文研究部、南极天文和射电天文研究部、应用天体力学和空间目标与碎片研究部、行星科学和深空探测研究部。”

At present, the PMO’s influence stretches far beyond Nanjing. One PMO-managed station is in China’s western Qinghai Province, which owns a 13.7m millimetre-wave telescope, the biggest of its kind in China. It even has a station on the other side of the globe, far from any light or chemical pollution, in the Antarctic Dome A, where construction is underway to build the Chinese Antarctic Observatory.

现在,紫金山天文台的影响力远不止南京一地。由紫金山天文台管理的一个观测站位于中国西部省份青海,这里有一台13.7米口径的毫米波望远镜,是中国同类设备中最大的一台。甚至在地球另一边,在远离任何光污染和化学污染的南极冰穹A地区,紫金山天文台也有一个站点,这里正在建设中国南极天文台。

Huang Kun is a science journalist in the Department of International News of Xinhua News Agency. Wang Juebin is a science journalist in the Jiangsu Bureau of Xinhua News Agency. Both were working in a freelance capacity for this article.

作者信息:黄堃是新华社国际部的科技记者,王珏玢是新华社江苏分社的科技记者。