Tencent invests $1.4 billion in scientific research foundation

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The New Cornerstone Science Foundation launched by Tencent officially landed in Shenzhen on Nov 16.

The new foundation focuses on basic scientific research and operates as a charity, with all of its programs operated by a foundation committee. In the next 10 years, Tencent will contribute 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) of financial support for a group of outstanding scientists to conduct research and promote innovation.

The importance of basic research is self-evident. It is the origin of any science and technology discovery, and it also provides the stamina for the transformation of social and economic development to be innovation-driven. Although China’s basic research has made huge progress, it still struggles to make scientific breakthroughs.

Ma Huateng, chairman and CEO of Tencent, previously stated that the foundation’s focus is to support basic scientific research, rather than research fields that are about to transform results or focus on application. He hopes that this foundation will lay a “new cornerstone” for China’s basic research, and looks forward to the “new cornerstone researchers” making world-leading achievements and becoming new academic leaders.

It is not the first time Tencent has supported basic research. Back in 2018, Tencent and more than a dozen Chinese scientists jointly launched the “Scientific Exploration Award”. So far, the award has funded 150 young scientists, making it one of the largest funding programs for talented young scientific researchers in China. Through consistent and in-depth communication with scientists, Tencent has built up a complete understanding of their expectations and needs. After several rounds of discussions with scientists and the authorities, the New Cornerstone Science Foundation came into being.

Another detail worth noting is the location of the foundation: Shenzhen. In 2021, its total R&D investment accounted for 5.46 percent of the city’s GDP, with 21,000 national high-tech enterprises, 15,170 PCT international patent applications, and a high-tech industry output value of 3.03 trillion yuan. These numbers indicate that the city has established a holistic innovation chain of basic research, technological breakthroughs, industrialization of research, technology finance and talent support.