context: MIIT released ‘Guiding opinions on VR industry development’ in December 2018 and wants to promote VR in 2019, together with a range of other technologies that may synergise with the planned 5G roll-out.

MIIT-affiliated China Academy of ICT, Huawei and display maker BOE released a white paper on virtual reality (VR) (including augmented reality) on 23 Jan 2019. The paper points out challenges to the domestic industry including

  • weak R&D capability in key technology
  • lack of quality content platform and coordinated innovation
  • insufficient user cultivation and vertical applications
  • weaknesses in rendering, perception interaction and content production

The paper advocates for a VR+ industrial ecology, recommending

  • more pilot research and trend prediction
    • industry-university-research collaboration in innovation
    • larger R&D investment in key technology areas
    • more efficient industrialisation and use of innovation resources
  • large-scale demonstration projects
    • improve content, lower hardware costs and promote industrial integration based on 5G technology
    • government-led pilots for VR promotion in cultural tourism, education and Party building
  • stronger policy support for industrial clusters and integration
    • full integration with the information technology industry
    • set up industrial bases to nurture enterprises in subsectors
    • encourage coordinated innovation across equipment manufacturers, content aggregators and distributors, and solution service providers
    • improve efficiency of fiscal policy implementation
  • market-oriented public service platforms
    • key equipment supply, test and consulting services
    • data monitoring services for technology, industrial chains and content application
    • product testing and certification services
    • more investment from local governments and private capital

In 2018, fewer firms attracted more money: 44 firms received 3 bn compared to 1.8 bn for 77 firms in 2017. 20 percent of patent applications were from universities and research institutes, whereas the number is 3 percent in the US. Leading applicants include

  • Beihang University
  • Zhejiang University
  • Beijing Institute of Technology
  • Shanghai Jiaotong University