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Go where researchers are: Elsevier chairman

中国 | 2023年6月20日

GLOBAL information analytics company Elsevier has taken a step further in getting closer to science, healthcare and technology professionals and better serving its customer base by setting up a new office in Shenzhen, a buzzing tech hub in China.

“We go where researchers and healthcare workers are. That’s where we are going to go. That’s who we support,” Youngsuk “YS” Chi, chairman of Elsevier and director of corporate affairs at RELX, Elsevier’s parent company, told Shenzhen Daily during a recent interview.

The Elsevier Shenzhen Office, located at the Qianhai International Talent Hub, was officially opened June 13.

The innovation DNA

Known as a city of innovation, Shenzhen has transformed from a small fishing village into a vibrant and bustling modern metropolis in four decades. Chi, on his second visit to Shenzhen, was amazed by the city’s rapid development.

“I knew how it was developing over the years, but to see it myself like this is very different from reading about it or seeing it on a paper,” Chi told Shenzhen Daily.

Like Shenzhen, Elsevier also has innovation in its DNA. Evolving from a small Dutch publisher in 1880 to a modern-day global information analytics business, the company has anticipated and adapted itself to a lot of changes along its journey, according to Chi.

Elsevier takes its name from the original House of Elzevir, a Dutch family publishing house founded in 1580.

“The Elzevir family came up with a concept of a pocketbook that goes inside of a jacket pocket. What a brilliant idea it is to be able to give information that is transportable,” Chi said when giving an example of several innovations that he finds fascinating in the company before the modern Elsevier came in.

“So, I think the innovative juice is always flowing at Elsevier. What we’ve done is that we’ve gone from being a pure content player to using content that is more actionable,” he said.

In his opinion, it’s not much a problem finding information in the internet world; but what’s relevant is finding the right and reliable information. What Elsevier wants to do for the research community is not only to help researchers get more relevant information quicker, but also make a better decision after obtaining the information they need.

“This is the journey we are on because we know researchers don’t have enough time. And the more we give them time back by being very analytic and accurate, the more they can do,” Chi said.

Earlier this year, Shenzhen set up the International Science and Technology Information Center, with the goal to provide cutting-edge and inclusive services such as academic research databases for the city’s research community and general public.

According to Chi, as an important partner of the center, Elsevier is willing to join hands with Shenzhen to enable more people gain access to research resources, in the hopes that giving access to these digital tools will give people much more innovative ideas in the long run.

“That’s what innovation is all about. Innovation is all about taking some risks and seeing what it does. I think we really have a shot,” said the executive, noting that it would be a great experiment.

Building the ecosystem

“Which country has the fastest growing quantity and quality of research output?” Chi posed a question. “China,” he then answered the question himself.

Likewise, Chi readily agreed that Shenzhen has the fastest growing number of researchers and quality of academic output in China, as it was shown in a report the company released this April.

As per the report, over the past five years, Shenzhen has led the growth of scientific research talents among the top six Chinese cities by GDP in 2022. The city also stood out in academic output, high-impact scientific research and industry-university cooperation.

“The reason why we are who we are is because we serve the research community. Now, we have arrived in Shenzhen because we think this is the hot place. We follow our researchers,” Chi said.

In Chi’s opinion, building a successful innovation ecosystem requires a few consistent elements, which include financial resources, attractiveness of a city and cooperation among various sectors.

Shenzhen satisfies all these essential requirements, which is its advantage in building a sound innovation ecosystem, according to Chi. “There is a lot of investment here. It is a great place to live. It is a gateway to the world,” Chi said.

“And finally, you couldn’t have Shenzhen without its government, private sector and academia all working together. I see that and I hope Shenzhen can leverage it and never lose it,” he added.