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The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

【Extraordinary Decade】: Tianjin University's Research Development

 Campus

Tianjin University (TJU) has delivered plenty of extraordinary technological achievements in a decade: the world's largest earthquake engineering simulation research facility, the exploration of the Mars surface in the virtual simulation laboratory, the first brain-computer interface chip, islets coated with the new hydrogel serving as an excellent immunoprotective material for islet transplantation therapy, and nanomedicine for cancer diagnosis and therapy... Over the past ten years, TJU has been focusing on four orientations, that is, the world's cutting-edge science and technology, economic development, major national needs and people's lives and health. The University has made the layout of important science and research directions, built great R&D platforms and key innovative teams and pushed forward the well-organized scientific projects, thus gradually breaking a scientific development path with TJU characteristics.

High Quality Research with Pursuit of Value Guided by Big-Picture Layout

“TJU’s faculty and staff are encouraged to focus on both urgent and long-term national demands, with the ‘four orientations’ in their mind and efforts”, said Yang Xianjin, the Secretary of the Party Committee of Tianjin University. To better serve the national strategic needs and bravely undertake the national mission, TJU proposed the systematic working approach at the third science and technology working conference, leading the direction for the science and technology development. Moreover, based on a new development stage, TJU has further empowered national strategic science and technology since 2020. With TJUers’ concerted efforts, TJU's great contributions to the significant strides in science, technology and economy have been made over time.

In the past decade, great progress has been steadily made in promoting TJU's strategic technology development. In 2018, the large-scale earthquake engineering simulation research facility, China’s first major national scientific and technological infrastructure in seismic engineering, was approved to be built. As the first of its kind in Tianjin, it is expected to be completed in October, 2024 and to be in use. It’ll be the world's largest and most versatile facility of its type. In 2018, as one of the first seven frontiers science centers according to the “Everest Plan” of the Ministry of Education, the Frontiers Science Center for Synthetic Biology was approved, orienting for a world-leading academic highland. In 2020, the Tianjin National Center for Applied Mathematics and the National Field Scientific Observation and Research Station of coastal earth critical zone in Bohai Rim have been established. Liu Congqiang, the Dean of the School of Earth System Sciences and Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: "As the world’s first field station of coastal earth critical zone, it will support national major engineering construction and basic theoretical research in related fields". Recently, TJU synthetic biology team stored grotto mural images in DNA, making another impressive breakthrough.

Since 2017, among the evaluations of the existing platforms at TJU, two of three evaluated national key laboratories and five of seven evaluated Ministry of Education (MOE) key laboratories have been rated as excellent. With the excellence rate ranking top among universities, a solid foundation has been laid for building strategic scientific and technological strengths.

TJU President Jin Donghan said: “Make continuous efforts to serve the economic and social development, instead of putting SCI first.” TJU’s research teams, propelled by the major national strategies, have actively expanded regional cooperation and contributed for major national projects. For example, from the start of construction in December 2009 to the official opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, TJU’s faculty and alumni have engaged in its design and construction. Tianjin University played its due part in the construction of the Beijing Daxing International Airport. Furthermore, TJU took advantage of the historical opportunity of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development by deepening the regional cooperation. Specifically, TJU provides technical support for large-scale projects in Tianjin including over 10 million tons of oil refining, Tianjin Port construction, and Airbus A320 family aircraft. Since 2017, TJU has also been conducting comprehensive cooperation with over 20 provinces, autonomous regions and cities nationwide. Strategic cooperation agreements have been signed with 32 leading enterprises, and 90 joint research and development institutions have been established. More than 7500 projects have been cooperated with enterprises, including 24 10-million-level ones. TJU has also been approved as the national demonstration university on intellectual property and the excellent national technology transfer institution.

Well-organized Research with High Standards and Sophisticated Achievements

Over the past decade, TJU has focused on original innovation and key core technologies by strengthening scientific research projects, cultivating key innovation teams and delivering high-level research results.

Since 2017, TJU’s annual scientific and technological fund has exceeded 4.1 billion yuan in total; more than 5,600 high-quality papers have been published and over 2,000 patents have been granted. Over the past ten years, as the primary participant, TJU has won seven national Science and Technology Awards, 54 first prizes and above of Ministerial and Provincial Science and Technology Awards and the second prize of National Natural Science Award as well as the gold award of China Patent Award for two consecutive years. All these are the proofs of the great advancements in overall scientific strength and competitiveness.

Over the past decade, TJU has made continuous breakthroughs in major scientific research projects. "Synthesis of redesigned yeast chromosomes is a challenging issue with lots of unknown difficulties, which requires great confidence and courage," said Yuan Yingjin, Tianjin University Vice President and Academician of the CAS. He realizes that this field is of great significance to the development of human science and dedicates his life to it. His team independently drew the drawings, dug the foundation and carried materials, determining to deliver the TJU-featured scientific fruits. To date, the billion-yuan-scale advantageous cluster in TJU’s synthetic biology has been in place.

The billion-yuan-scale cluster also consist of clean and efficient coal use, green architectures, efficient development of water resources and strategic advanced electronic materials. Since 2017, TJU has taken the lead in 84 national key R&D projects, ranking top among national universities. 1797 projects of National Natural Science Foundation have been approved; 18 scholars have got the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars and 44 got the National Science Fund for Excellent Young Scholars; 6 teams have been credited as innovative research groups. On October 2, the School of Future Technology was inaugurated. In the future, TJU will continue to build stages for new technologies and achievements.

Over the past decade, TJU’s major scientific research achievements have been constantly emerging from underwater glider "Haiyan" to the microgrid and intelligent distribution system, from nature exploration to city construction, and from life decoding to atom analyzing. Drafted by experts at Tianjin University, Tianjin Biosecurity Guidelines for Codes of Conduct for Scientists is the first international initiative in biosecurity named after a Chinese city.

Efficient Research with Institutional Guarantee and Management

Over the past ten years, TJU has focused on the reform on scientific research of delegating power, improving regulation and updating services. Starting from designing systems and recreating process, the University has been improving incentives and the guarantee mechanism for scientific research, aiming for a high-level supportive and guarantee system of research.

The institutional system has been improved with innovative steps: scientific research conditions, teams and financial supports for key research project teams have been guaranteed. The technological transfer center and permanent technical broker teams have been built for better serving commercialization of research achievements. Research-education collaboration had been promoted as seen in the participation of undergraduates in key R&D projects. In 2017, TJU first set its Science and Technology Innovation Honorary Fellowship, supporting innovative research teams with exceptional scientists as academic leaders.

TJU has been committed to laying the development foundation with institutional incentives and policy implementation. No matter in top-level design and management improvement, or in process betterment, TJU has introduced a series of guides and measures, thus ensuring the standardization and normalization.

Over the past ten years, TJU’s service capacity has been constantly improved. Adhering to the principle of "making full use of digital channels and information to save time and energy", TJU has launched the “whole-process online & one-stop offline mode", covering various daily needs of scientific research management. Therefore, more than 6000 on-site items are reduced every year. TJU was also approved as one of the first reform pilots of “green channels" by the MOE.

“High-level research universities should fulfill the mission of self-reliance and self-improvement of high level science and technology”, said TJU President Jin Donghan, “In the future, TJU will keep giving full play to its advantages of profound basic research and interdisciplinary integration by integrating scientific research with disciplinary development and talent teams building, thus striving to be the main force of national basic research and the rising force for major scientific and technological breakthroughs!"

By Chen Xu

Editor: Sun Xiaofang