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The authors analyze the nanotechnology patent applications filed in China from 1998 to 2008 and find that the extraordinary nanotechnology development in China has been primarily promoted by the public sector but not driven by industry and market force. This finding implies that developing countries such as China with public research capacity and commitment to technological development can make rapid progress in basic research of emerging technologies, but it remains uncertain whether and when local industry can benefit from public R&D investment to actively develop indigenous innovation.
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