Jiangnan University aspires to contribute to the establishment of innovative China and actively participates in the construction of national and regional innovation systems. As the cradle, and one of the major pillars, of China's light industry, Jiangnan University’s National Key Lab of Food Science and Technology, approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology, is the only one of its kind in China. There are 7 other state-level scientific research platforms such as National Engineering Laboratory of Cereal Fermentation Technology, National Engineering Research Center of Functional Food. The university also has 41 ministerial- and provincial -level platforms, for instance, Engineering Research Center of Knitting Technology. Jiangnan University boasts 6 “Overseas Expertise Introduction Center for Discipline Innovation” (“111”Center) overseen by the Ministry of Education and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs and 21 International Joint Laboratories.
Since the implementation of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, Jiangnan University has undertaken 1085 national-level projects and 6 national key research projects. Since 2012, the university has been the leading institution on 9 projects which have won “National Science and Technology Progress Award” and “Technical Innovation Award”, placed No. 12 nationally in terms of its total number of national science and technology awards in 2017. Jiangnan University has also received many other awards, including 2 “Science and Technology Innovation Award” by the Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation, 6 scientific research awards for achievements in the humanities and social sciences as well as 8 patent awards. In 2016, the university ranked No. 17 in the list of the “Chinese University Patent Award”. The university has cooperated with enterprises (such as COFCO and Bright Dairy) from more than forty cities in the areas of research and development, technical services and personnel training and has established several joint research institutes.