Chinese Science and Technology Newsletter

Innovation Fund for Small Businesses

Since its establishment on June 1999, the Innovation Fund for Technology-based Firms, a mechanism created for raising money for small and medium-sized tech businesses, has financed 14,450 projects, with a sum worth RMB 8.84 billion, or RMB 611,800 per project. As of 2008, the Fund has reviewed the implementation of 7,921 projects, of which 5,523 projects reached the desired targets, or 69.73% of the projects under review, 1,113 projects basically met the desired targets, or 14.05% of the total, and 1,295 projects failed to reach the desired targets and were terminated for the reason, or 16.35% of the total. In the past decade, Innovation Fund has rendered a range of support to the areas of electronics and information, biopharmaceuticals, new energy and energy efficiency, advanced materials, optic-mechanic-electronic integration, resources and environment, tech service, and transforming traditional industries with advanced technologies. In recent years, Innovation Fund has enhanced its support to energy efficiency and emission reduction related R&D activities.


Oldest Dinosaur Footprints Found

Chinese and US paleontologists announced recently that they have found the rare footprints of deinonychus class in Chicheng County of north China's Hebei Province, and named them as Menglongipussinensisichnogen's footprints, a new genus and new species. XING Lida with Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences and his US coworkers reported their findings in the December issue of Acta Palaeontologica Sinica.


During the period of 2008-2009, Chinese and US scientists found four small footprints in a row in the Phoenix Mountain in Chicheng County. The footprints are 6cm long, showing two toes. Non-contact instrument scanning has resulted in the first footprint pictures of  the dinosaur, showing both outlines and depths of the footprints. The followed footprint study made scientists believe that they are the footprints of Menglongipussinensisichnogen, a new genus and new species. Scientists believe that the newly found dinosaur may have a body length of 65cm, living in a time running between 130 and 140 million years ago (Jurassic Period and Cretaceous Period). The dinosaur is very close to the basal birds in body shape. The discovery indicates that the Deinonychus appeared even earlier than the Microraptor (120 million years ago) in the area.


Botanic Diversity Investigated

A 6-year botanic diversity investigation, jointly initiated by Chinese and US scientists to understand the botanic diversity of Hengduan Mountains, was wound up in September 2009, with all the samples collected being delivered to the CAS Kunming Institute of Botany. Kunming Institute of Botany inked in 2003 an accord with Harvard University to jointly investigate the plants and fungus diversity in the southern part of China. The collaboration has been jointly financed by a range of government programs, including NSF and NSFC. Scientists launched 5 field expeditions to investigate botanic diversity in some 50 areas, including Changdu (Tibet), Diqing (Yunnan), and Liangshan, Ganzi, and Aba (Sichuan), since 2003.


In the past 6 years, Chinese and US scientists have collected 12,000-15,000 specimens of more than 6,000 higher plants and fungus. So far scientists have sorted out 30 new plant and fungus species, and established an online database containing both images and descriptions of the plants investigated. A Chinese place name book was also compiled for identifying the places where specimens were collected.


Panda Genome Sequenced

A panda genome sequence project, jointly initiated and implemented by Beijing Genomics Institute (Shenzhen), CAS Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chengdu Panda Breeding Center, and China Panda Protection Center, has recently completed panda genome sequencing. The sequence results show that panda has 21 chromosomes, and a genome size of 2.4 G containing more than 20,000 genes, with a sequence repeat at 36%. Study shows that panda is a highly hybrid species with high genetic polymorphism. Comparing with the animals so far sequenced, panda is closest to dog in genome. Data analysis also supports the popular belief that panda is a subspecies of the cat family.


Traditional Medicine Beats H1N1 Virus

Based on the 7-month efforts, a group of Chinese research institutes, including Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, part of China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (CACMS), Institute of Laboratory Animal Science under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and College of Life Sciences and Bioengineering at Beijing University of Technology, has recently rolled out a traditional formula named Jinhuaqingganfang to alleviate the symptoms of the H1N1 virus. Study shows that the traditional formula goes along with the membrane protein of H1N1 virus in-vitro. In animal models, it effectively eased the symptoms caused by the H1N1 virus, and prolonged the survival of target animals. Researchers worked on H1N1 strains both in-vitro and in vivo using internationally acknowledged assessment approaches.


Clinical trials have been staged in 11 hospitals, including Beijing Chaoyang Hospital and Ditan Hospital. Meanwhile, the therapeutic effects have been evaluated using strict standards. Clinical trials show that the formula is able to shorten the fever duration and ease respiratory tract symptoms, without causing adverse effects among the patients treated with the formula. Researchers told reporters that it is an effective H1N1 formula with a cost that is only 1/4 of the Tamiflu.


Degradable Stents

CAS Institute of Metal Research, in collaboration with China Medical University No. 1 Hospital, has successfully implanted degradable magnesium alloy stents in rabbits. In the four-month long experiment, 14 rabbits implanted with the degradable stents have kept the smooth circulation of blood vessels, without further clogging. A study team, led by YANG Ke at CAS Institute of Metal Research, literally cut out the degradable stents using laser, and realized the phased degradable performance. They worked out the right solutions to addressing the low plasticity of magnesium alloy and its impacts on the flexible performance of stents by changing the property of alloy surface. The technique renders a sufficient dynamic support at the early stage of the implantation. To reduce the internal thickness and increase the room of new born blood vessels, a degradable polymer coating carrying the needed drug is applied to the stents' surface, allowing the drug to be gradually released to the affected part while inhibiting intimal hyperplasia.


Bovine Tuberculosis Test Kit

Thanks to 3-year efforts, Prof. QIN Aijian, Dean of Veterinary School, part of Yangzhou University, and coworkers have developed a technique and associated kit to quickly test bovine tuberculosis. Researchers developed a specific monoclonal antibody to tell if the cattle are affected by tuberculosis, using the ELISA method and cellular immunology. They also rolled out a test kit for the purpose, with a cost (RMB 20) that is only 1/4 of the imported products. The test kit is designed to test only one sample for one test kit, agreeable with the domestic breeding practice.


New Satellites Launched

At 1031, December 15, 2009 (Beijing Time), China successfully blasted off two satellites aboard a CZIV-C launch vehicle, from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. Both of the satellites, a remote sensing satellite named Yaogan 8, and a public good microsatellite called Hope 1, have smoothly entered its preset solar synchronous orbit.


Hope 1 is a microsatellite designed for teenager popular science lovers. It carries aboard three experiment instruments to observe the status of particles in five colors under the microgravity condition, CMOS aerial photography in collaboration with light meter, and establish a space based HAM radio station to accommodate Chinese and global amateur radio lovers' needs for signal, voice, and data transmission.


Hope I's First Picture

Hope I, China's first public good satellite, has sent back to the earth its first picture. The microsatellite, launched on December 15, 2009, shot pictures using onboard wide-view CMOS camera. It also established a HAM radio station that has successfully been connected to HAM radios in more than 30 countries. A scientific experiment named "round cosmos and square earth", designed by a pupil in Beijing, has sent its experimental data to the ground control with clear pictures.


Hope I is currently working in a solar synchronous orbit 1200km above the earth. It takes 109 minutes to circle around the south and north poles of the earth. It visits Beijing 6 to 8 times a day, mostly between 9:30 and 12:30 in the morning, or between 9:30 and 00:30 at the night. Amateur radio lovers in Beijing can receive the radio signals from Hope I during the period.


Advanced Water Garbage Separation

Not long ago, Wuxi based Changjiang Electric Motor rolled out an urban garbage sorting system based on water separation technology. The new system handles living garbage separately, allowing a reduced garbage volume and an organic matter recovery as much as 90%. Water separation technology assists people to automatically sort the garbage, grouping them into what they belong to. The water used in the separation can be recycled, in an effort to avoid secondary pollution, desirable for hazardless, resources oriented, and automated garbage handling.


The new system is both reliable and safe for operation, eliminated the possible adverse impacts of simple landfill and direct burning on the environment. Highly automated and limited space occupying, the home made system is most desirable for handling mixed living garbage, enjoying noticeable economic, social, and environmental benefits. For example, it will take RMB 500 to 600 million to build a factory with a 1,000-ton daily garbage handling capacity using direct burning techniques, even in a developed coastal area. However, it will take only half of the investment to build a WST system for the same purpose.


Coal Ethylene Glycol

A pilot project to annually produce 200,000 tons of ethylene glycol from coal, initiated by Fujian Institute of Matter Structures, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with Jiangsu Danhua Group and Shanghai Gem Holding, has rolled out on December 7, 2009 the ethylene glycol products up to the required standards. The development indicates that China has for the first time realized commercial applications of ethylene glycol from coal in the world.

Fujian Institute of Matter Structures made an experiment in 2005 to catalyze dimethyl oxalate using industrial CO as the reaction material, and to improve the techniques for producing ethylene glycol. In 2006, the Institute worked with Shanghai Gem Holding to annually produce 300 tons of Dimethyl oxalate, 100 tons of ethylene glycol, and 10,000 tons of ethylene glycol from coal on an experimental basis. Researchers completed all the experiments on June 2008, and achieved all the target indicators. The techniques and technologies needed for annually produce 10,000 tons of ethylene glycol from coal passed the technical review on March 18, 2009.


Safe Transgenic Phytase Corn

A team, led by FAN Yunliu, a Chinese Academy of Sciences academician at the Institute of Biotechnology, part of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, produced a highly expressed transgenic phytase corn that has passed in December 2008 he final review of a food safety panel under the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture. The development creates the first successful story of transgenic phytase corn. According to a briefing, transgenic phytase corn can be turned into a degradable phytic acid feed rich in inorganic phosphor, desirable for the development of animals. Its application may lead to a reduced annual application of dibasic calcium phosphate by 0.8-1.2 million tons, cutting down phosphor emissions from animal wastes by 30%-40%. Not long ago, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture granted transgenic phytase corn a safe production and application certificate.

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