Chinese Talent, American Enterprise
① The contribution of Chinese inventors to biotech innovation in the United States is significant and increasing.
Our data indicate that the number and proportion of Chinese inventors relative to all biotech inventors has steadily increased since the late 1990s. So is the number of patents that are filed by the Chinese inventors, and their proportion, as shown in Figures 1a and 1b. Our data also show that the share of Chinese inventors of the most cited, and therefore most important, patents, has also grown.
The rise in the number of ethnic Chinese filing patents coincided with unprecedented expansion of higher education in China. From 1998-2009, undergraduate and master’s program enrollment in China increased more than five-fold, from 710,435 to 3,710,123. Between 2001-2018, enrollment in bioengineering programs in China exploded: the number of students receiving a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering in increased 15-fold from 2,332 to 29,096 (Ministry of Education 1987). As the number of biological science majors in Chinese universities increases, so does the supply of students to the graduate programs in American universities. From 2000-2017, Chinese students with temporary visas accounted for about 35 percent of all U.S. doctoral degrees in biological sciences awarded to international students, second only to the proportion of Chinese students with engineering doctoral degrees (Trapani and Hale 2019, Table 2-4).