China will strive to make innovation a driving force of the country's economic upgrading, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here on Tuesday. Addressing the opening ceremony of the Annual Meeting of the Global Research Council (GRC) 2014, Li said China will nurture innovative and entrepreneurial energies, and encourage scientific and technological achievements to be given real practical applications. China's economic growth dipped to 7.4 percent in the first quarter, the lowest level since the third quarter of 2012. Meanwhile, problems including manufacturing overcapacity, a deteriorating environment and high energy consumption require the country to accelerate upgrades to its growth pattern. "We will try to create new products, new services, new sectors and new job opportunities," Li said. He stressed intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, saying, "Protecting IPR is protecting innovation." China has vowed to create a good legal environment to better protect IPR, reward innovators and stimulate innovation, the premier noted. Li also said China is willing to expand international technological exchanges and cooperation, and encourage the global flow of knowledge, technology and talents. The GRC is comprised of the heads of science and engineering funding agencies from around the world and dedicated to promoting the sharing of data and best practice for collaboration among funding agencies, according to its official website. This year's GRC Annual Meeting, with the themes of "Open access to publications" and "Shaping the future: supporting the next generation of researchers," drew more than 400 delegates and observers.