AsianScientist (Jan. 13, 2021) – Science is booming across Asia. Combined, the region accounted for around 44 percent of global research and development (R&D) spending in 2016, with China, Japan, South Korea and India leading the pack.
Fueled by the meteoric rise of China, as well as smaller countries like Singapore and Vietnam, the region has also witnessed a significant growth in the number of papers published in the world’s most prestigious journals. Yet, even until now, international visibility of the Asian scientific landscape and the researchers driving its development remains diminished.
To fill this gap and give scientists in Asia much needed recognition, the Asian Scientist 100, an annual listing of the region’s scientific superstars, was launched in 2016. Our recently-released white paper, written as COVID-19 rapidly spread across the world in 2020, draws on five years of celebrating Asia’s best and brightest and takes a deep dive into their remarkable stories of discovery and innovation.
As the world’s scientific center of gravity shifts towards Asia, our white paper seeks to examine Asian research in five sub-sectors: agricultural and environmental sciences; biomedical sciences; chemistry and materials sciences; engineering; and physics and mathematics.
Among the report’s key findings are:
- The double-edged sword of growth
Rapid economic growth in Asia has been a double-edged sword for the agricultural and environmental sciences. On the one hand, it has strained the region’s resources. On the other, the attendant rise in incomes and educational levels has boosted Asia’s capabilities in the sector, which in turn has allowed the contemporary application of techniques like machine learning, Internet of Things, satellite data and clean meat to mitigate resource pressures.
- The shifting sands of biomedicine
Two important shifts are occurring in the biomedical sciences. First, Asia’s growing importance as a market for Big Pharma has prompted greater infusions of capital, talent and biomedical knowhow into the region. Second, Asian biomedical firms have evolved in this competitive environment, shifting rapidly up the value chain from performing outsourced research and manufacturing generic drugs to innovating at the leading edge of the field.
- Innovative technology heats up
Numerous applications in chemistry and materials sciences are spreading at a feverish pace across Asia, from solar farms in the scorched, remote deserts of Western China to vehicles using solid-state batteries in Tokyo. Demand for these new technologies is often driven by the quest for energy efficiency and resource sustainability amid the region’s torrid rates of growth in income, population and urbanization.
- From siloes to synergy
Much of Asia’s groundbreaking engineering R&D revolves around technologies that are part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This means that unlike many of their relatively siloed predecessors, today’s engineering innovators work at the intersections of the physical, digital and biological spheres.
- Asia keeps pace
Advances in physics and mathematics include areas where Asia is running toe-to-toe with the West—for instance, in quantum computing—and also other areas such as space exploration, where Asia is a relative newcomer, but is fast catching up.
Still find yourself curious about these trends? Discover the landscape of science in the region and inspiring stories of innovation in the Five Years Of The Asian Scientist 100 white paper here.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.