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Don’t Underestimate China’s Innovation

Don’t Underestimate China’s Innovation

There is a standing belief that history works in cycles.

Centuries in the past, China was one of the leaders of technology and innovation. The compass revolutionized the way man explored the world. Gunpowder changed everything from celebration to war with the lighting of a wick. Libraries could very well be made of more books containing sheep skin pages than those of elegant paper. Papermaking, printing, the compass, and gun powder are four of the most influential inventions and innovations known to mankind and all four of them came from innovation in China.

How Has Innovation in China Influenced Us?

Many believe that today’s businesses are looking at India and Japan as the Asian leaders of innovation. Does that mean that China is no longer a contender for the title of innovation leader? Tom Standage, the Digital Editor for The Economist doesn’t think so. Instead, he believes that is has more to do with the needs of the region. In this case, Asia seems to be more open to and geared toward the mobile market. “Essentially necessity is the mother of all invention. So we see amazing innovation coming out of China, India, and Africa in mobile, for example, simply because in order to reach much poorer people you have to innovate and find new models.”

Innovation in China: The Mother of Invention

This, in essence is why China is creeping up on other innovation leaders. They are working on developing those innovations that will best serve the populations in their own regions. These are also innovations that will not work in western markets so the impact has been minimal outside of Asia and Africa. “…mobile payments are another good example-people are going from no payment technology to mobile payments and not bothering with the intermediate bank account stage. I think this is great. For instance, Kenya leads the world in mobile money. India has these amazingly innovative mobile operator models and so does Africa.”

So is China being underestimated in the current market as a leader in innovation?

It certainly seems that way. Small innovative successes on the home front often bode well for making big splashes in the international markets. Keeping an eye on the Asian countries is a great indicator of the amazing innovations in a multitude of areas. China is certainly a country to watch.

This is based on an interview with Tom Standage, Digital Editor, The Economist. For the full interview, please click here.