Fellowship in Digitisation & Industrial Innovation 2017, Mercator Institute for China Studies, Germany

Publish Date: Feb 01, 2017

Fellowship in the Research Programme “Economy and Technology”

Focus: Digitisation & Industrial Innovation

The Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) is a research and analysis institute established in 2013 and based in Berlin. MERICS conducts independent, practical and policy-oriented research on China. MERICS provides the public with insight into China through up-to-date research and communication. It informs decision-makers in politics, business and society and acts as a key contact for the media. MERICS is an initiative of Stiftung Mercator, a major private European foundation.

This research programme observes and analyses the current critical transition of China’s economy. It focuses on three main trends in particular: signs of crisis and economic reforms in the context of the real economy’s slowdown and tumbling financial markets; digitisation of the economy (incl. Internet of Things, Internet Plus); industrial innovation (incl. Industry 4.0, e-mobility and renewable energy).

Economy and Technology|Digitisation & Industrial Innovation

The Chinese economy is at a turning point. The old growth model – ‘the factory of the world’ – does not work anymore. Wages are on the rise, exports and investments cannot ensure high economic growth rates. If structural reforms prove to be successful, China has the potential of becoming the world’s leading economic and technological power in the twenty-first century. Inadequate reforms or a severe economic crisis, however, would drag it into mediocrity – or even propel it to the brink of collapse.

MERICS’ Economy and Technology programme observes and analyses this critical transition of China’s economy. It focuses on three main trends in particular:

Signs of crisis and economic reforms

The real economy shows signs of slowdown and financial markets are tumbling. Facing these challenges, the Chinese leadership needs to prove that its comprehensive reform agenda from 2013 is capable of shaping the country’s economy to prepare for today’s new challenges properly. However, if the Chinese economy heads into a crisis, short-term matters will take precedence and hinder reforms. This would stop structural change towards a service and innovation-driven economy. High, long-term economic growth would be at stake and China would have to give up its efforts to catch up with cutting-edge technology in advanced economies before it had really got started.

Digitisation of the economy

Whatever signs of crisis are already apparent, China’s digital change is progressing at great speed. Dynamic business start-ups are sprouting up like mushrooms. The success of Chinese internet companies like Xiaomi and Alibaba questions the validity of conventional market structures and business set-ups. Linking up every area of the economy and of people’s lives in the Internet of Things will influence and determine the future of China’s economy. The country’s leaders recognised the potential economic benefits of e-commerce and modern IT technologies early on and more so than many other national governments. Internet plus is the catchphrase of the Chinese government to promote the interlinkage and computerisation of traditional industries. New technical possibilities presented by web-based services and Big Data also provide new means to regulate and control the economy more stringently, though.

Industrial innovation

The widespread modernisation of industry is at the heart of China’s strategy of innovation and industrialisation. The country is aiming to become the global leader in terms of innovation and advanced technologies. Beijing intends to make industrial companies boost their productivity and achieve a higher level of quality through its modernisation programme Made in China 2025. Automation technology and intelligent production networks, which are embodied in the concept of Industry 4.0, are growing increasingly important. Simultaneously, Chinese politics is pouring enormous amounts of money and resources into promoting strategically important technologies such as IT, e-mobility and renewable energy. In many industries leading multinational firms are still way ahead, but their Chinese contenders are rapidly catching up.

MERICS is looking for internationally outstanding scholars and experts:

  • With exceptional expertise on digitisation or industrial innovation in China
  • Preferably for short-term fellowships (between two and three months), in well-justified special cases for long-term fellowships (between four and twelve months). 

Application process: 

  • Flexible
  • Applications may be submitted anytime
  • A decision on the granting of the fellowship can be expected approximately four weeks after submission of the application 

What to expect as a MERICS-fellow: 

  • Close cooperation with a professional research team
  • Individual research adviser at MERICS
  • Active participation in scientific publications
  • Active involvement in events and workshops, both internal and external
  • An outstanding research location and a high-class global research network
  • Lively scientific exchange in an international environment
  • Individual full-service support before and during the entire stay in Germany


Send an application, if you have gained exceptional expertise on digitisation or industrial innovation in China based on years of research and/or professional experience, and, if you are willing to share and deepen it in cooperation with MERICS. With your experience, you will contribute actively to the independent research work of one of the largest international research institutes for contemporary China.

Please send your application documents (#1: letter of motivation (2-3 pages) referring explicitly to the respective MERICS research programme; #2: Curriculum Vitae; #3: list of publications or list of equivalent analytical qualifications based on professional experience) to Marie Hoffmann: marie.hoffmann@merics.de.

You can learn more information about the application requirements in the MERICS Fellowship Programme Guidelines here (PDF).

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

Further Official Information

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