Chinese State Key Laboratories

Chinese State Key Laboratories (国家重点实验室) are laboratories which are connected to universities and private companies who receive funding and administrative support from the central government of China. Each lab is focused on a specific research topic.

What does SKL mean?

While the name State Key Laboratory (SKL) indicates a real facility, often there is no new laboratory built. Instead the status of ‘SKL’ is granted to an existing department or research group that has done (and must continue to do) groundbreaking research for China in a specific area. Although the output of these State Key Laboratories (SKL) varies, they are generally an interesting target when looking for a research partner. There are about 300 SKLs in China.

What you see here is a first version of our online SKL mapping, containing also ~15 Provincial, CAS and Ministry of Eduction Key Labs. These are generally one step below the SKLs when it comes to access to funding. Move your mouse over items (circles) to see the name of the SKL and click on it to get a pop-up with more information. Be sure to zoom out to also get an overview of all SKLs in China.

SKLs marked with a * have no official English name and might have incomplete data.

Note: If you are a user from China, this webpage loads (slower) with a Chinese map and street names.

Development of SKLs

We made an animation to visualise the development of State Key Labs over the years 1984 – 2011 (steps 0 – 27). While initially SKLs are popping up all over China, in 1993 a first cluster of SKLs in the Yangtze River Delta (Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou) becomes visible. Then in 2004~2005 a massive concentrated growth in Beijing starts, dwarfing other cities and regions with its amount of SKLs.

Both the SKL concentration in the Yangtze River Delta cluster and in Beijing continue to grow. But about 5~6 other regions in China also get their fair share of SKLs.

Concentration of labs

Last but not least, we made a mapping showing the State Key Labs clustered together. By doing so, it becomes easier to spot regions with a high concentration of State Key Labs. Now we can also see the actual number of SKLs per region (or city). As expected, Beijing tops the list, followed by Shanghai. The third city is probably more surprising: Wuhan. With about 20 SKLs, it ranks higher than Nanjing and Hangzhou. Other notable cities on the map are Xi’an, Changchun, Guangzhou, and Chengdu.

Zooming out makes it easier to compare regions (SKLs numbers are clustered). While zoomed out, circles with the number of SKLs are sometimes displaced a bit to prevent completely overlapping a city name. Zooming in gives more precise totals of individual cities.