10 Billion Yuan Invested in 10 Years to Support Basic Research

20, 2022

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On April 30 the "New Cornerstone Investigator Program" was officially launched. This is a new type of basic research funding initiative that focuses on original innovation and encouraging scientists to explore and consider public welfare. The "New Cornerstone Investigator Program" is led by scientists and funded by technology giant Tencent. Tencent will invest 10 billion yuan in the project over the next 10 years, and will explore a sustainable operations model to support basic research over the long term.

The program aims to support a group of outstanding scientists to choose their own research directions in a long-term and sustainable manner, and also encourage them to devote themselves to research, dare to challenge norms, and focus on original innovation.

The program will establish two major fields, namely "mathematics and physical sciences" and "biological and medical sciences", to support scientists working full-time in Mainland China as well as the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

The program strictly follows the principle of being "scientist-led", and has established a scientific committee as core to the organization of the program. Prof. Yigong Shi, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and president of Westlake University, serves as the chair of the first scientific committee. Shi said: "The next 10-20 years will be a critical period for China's scientific and technological development to take a qualitative leap. Basic research is the foundation of science, which requires the field of basic research to take the lead in achieving breakthroughs. This project over the next 10 years will support 200 to 300 outstanding scientists to provide the greatest space for their free exploration. It is expected that these scientists can propose and solve major scientific problems, promote theoretical innovation, push the frontiers of scientific disciplines, and open up new research fields, all to become the new leaders of the scientific community.”

"Many major breakthroughs in basic research come from the painstaking work accumulated by scientists over a long period of time," said Xiaoliang Xie, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peking University professor, and member of the scientific committee of the New Cornerstone Investigator Program. "This project, with a focus on candidates, not topics, will create a long-term and stable support structure for potential scientists, and giving them full freedom will help them to devote themselves to true exploration to reap the fruits of original innovation."

Prof. Jianwei Pan, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, executive vice president of the University of Science and Technology of China, and member of the scientific committee of the project, believes that this support is a key supplement to national basic research investment. "This project responds to the long-standing expectations of the scientific community. Free exploration is often difficult and risky; it takes a long time. This funding can help scientists focus on free exploration."

More information on the application process for the “New Cornerstone Investigator Program” will be announced in the future with applications officially starting within the next year.

Prof. Jie Zhang, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, director of the Tsung-Dao Lee Institute of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and member of the scientific committee of the “New Cornerstone Investigator Program”, said, "I hope this project can support a group of outstanding scientists to focus on original and leading basic research and expand scientific boundaries. I hope Chinese scientists will promote breakthroughs and progress in basic research that will benefit of all humanity."