JITRI was born by bringing together 23 Research Institutes that were already in operation. Originally functioning under the auspices of prominent universities or the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). These first 23 JITRI Institutes were incubated to combine university innovation with local industry demands in what was termed a “One Institute Two Systems" model. For example, a professor could continue to lead an academic research team while also developing a team at the Institute, thus taking advantage of the best university innovation while working more effectively with industry; an important bridge between scientific innovation and industrial applications.
In 2016 JITRI began to add new Institutes to its system, using a new model that further prioritized a strong connection between research and industry. The "JITRI Project Manager" program accepts proposals for new Institutes to be established in Jiangsu. It then invests time and funding support to incubate the best ideas; helping each Project Manager build a team, understand the local industrial landscape and research and development needs, and make connections with sources of capital that often include local governments and industrial parks. The team includes experts in early-stage technology investment, helping to ensure that each Institute is designed to land in the best environment and with the right resources to grow. For major projects that are closer to commercialization, JITRI has designed a peer review mechanism and a project support protocol for Project Managers that includes a special financial support mechanism of a research grant that converts into shares upon completion of the project, ensuring that the research team maintains full control in the critical early stages of market risk.