This page presents the findings of a cooperative foresight work that took place simultaneously in EU and China, aiming to produce scenarios for the global innovation environment in 2030, drawing special focus in the cooperation potential between EU and China. The work was performed in the context of the Dragon-Star plus project, funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 program.

In the process of producing the scenarios for China’s innovation landscape, the main challenge was to find the right perspectives to separate the important signals from noise and short out what of today’s events will matter in the long run. The study particularly seeks an understanding of changes in three domains: the development of Government policy towards innovation, the current and future industrial capabilities, the impact of creativeness and consumer trends on innovation.

The research team has utilized a combination of foresight methodologies such us desk-study analysis, Delphi, media scanning, interviews, exploratory workshops, and patent/paper analysis, in order to identify critical drivers, trends, and uncertainties, in order to draw plausible scenarios for China in 2030.


During the first phase of the study, the team focused on China’s current innovation capabilities, and challenges that may drive innovation toward 2030, as well as on specific trends in business model innovation resulting in scenarios for Chinese innovation in 2030. In parallel, in Europe the team focused on the western views towards China (current status and future cooperation potential). In addition, specific technological areas presenting opportunities for research and technological cooperation, and emerging business models and markets are presented and discussed.

Having confirmed the megatrends, and emerging business models that are changing the global future, the team with the support of the experts identified a set of nine key dimensions (uncertainties), each with three options, that generated 20,000 possible scenarios. However, as not all uncertainties are independent, as smaller number of overall dimensions has been identified. The number of plausible scenarios was further reduced after ranking the uncertainties by importance, that revealed two overaching uncertainty dimensions. The first is related to the Chinese government’s approach toward innovation, and the second dimension is relative to China’s creative capabilities.

These two overarching dimensions were used as the axes of the key four produced scenarios:

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  1. China INC: Command-driven innovation. The Chinese government is the entrepreneur and actively allocates resources to mega innovation projects, and gradually creates a creative elite.
  2. Bonsai: Guided innovation along defined paths. In this scenario, the government takes an active role, while at the same time a large creative class and a free flows of knowledge and ideas emerge.
  3. Galapagos: Scattered innovation islands. The Chinese government focuses on framework conditions rather than taking an active role in driving innovation, but fails to creative a broad creative class.
  4. Hot pot: Integrated creative ecosystems. In this scenario, China has an open knowledge flow environment, and as strong creative class, while the government works on creating a favourable framework for innovation.

The four scenarios aim to present the main developments in the China’s innovation future and to support “future-proof” decisions of policy makers, RTOs, and corporations.


The work is still on-going. The main outputs so far are the following: