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Guangzhou's innovative ecosphere gaining momentum
Update: 2017-09-26     Source: lifeofguangzhou.com
Home to 83 institutions of higher learning and the biggest number of R&D institutes in Guangdong Province, Guangzhou has witnessed the fastest growth in inventive patent applications among big Chinese cities. Guangzhou ranks top 3 among all Chinese cities in the number of companies that make the top 50 Most Innovative Chinese Companies list for three consecutive years. With its intelligent manufacturing gaining a footing in the global market, Guangzhou's innovative ecosphere is picking up steam. During the roadshow for the Fortune Global Forum in Silicon Valley, the United States, Guangzhou came into the limelight for its innovative power and innovative ecosphere.

A new impression: Guangzhou and Silicon Valley complement each other in innovation

A roadshow was held on September 21, 2017 in Silicon Valley promoting the Global Fortune Forum to be held in Guangzhou. At the event, Cisco technology chief Chen Weidong explained to the audience an intelligent city program the company is working on in Guangzhou. Then, GAC's general manager Feng Xingya talked about the R&D center the company established in Silicon Valley. Feng also revealed that GAC is planning to set up a research center in Detroit as well as a futuristic design studio in Los Angeles. It's evidence that Guangzhou is not just learning from the West, but also exchanging and cooperating with the outside world in the innovation of science and technology.

"The R&D center in Silicon Valley drastically boosts our R&D capabilities, sending GAC on an around-the-clock non-stop journey of technological innovation," Feng said. GAC setting up branches overseas is a good example of how traditional automakers are exploring the industrial link of intelligent manufacturing. The GAC R&D center in Silicon Valley, put into operation in June 2017, takes full advantage of the local technological resources to carry out research in motor control for new energy vehicles, AI and big data, driverless technology and network security. The center also serves as a base for the company to recruit overseas talents.    

As traditional manufacturers explore frontiers in high-end industrial links overseas, Guangzhou's high-tech companies in sectors such as AI are also taking stride after stride to explore abroad. Iflytek Co., Ltd., the biggest listed company in the Asia Pacific specializing in intelligent speech and AI, set up its Silicon Valley office at the beginning of 2016. Earlier this year, the office was expanded into a full-functioning subsidiary. Serving as the firm's new technology cooperation platform, the U.S. subsidiary explores overseas markets and helps recruit high-end talents. So far, the U.S. subcloud facilities of the company's AI open platform have been put into use, marking Iflytek's first step in global expansion.  

Innovative talents: luring innovative talents to the city to foster an economic boom driven by returned Chinese students

Guangzhou's innovative power which refreshed people's knowledge about the city and China during the road show is the result of its tremendous efforts in cultivating an innovative ecology.

Nine years have passed since Yuan Yuyu, after earning a doctor's degree in the United States, started Medprin Regenerative Medical Technologies Co., Ltd. with his startup team in Guangzhou. The organ printing technology pioneered by Medprin is one of "six technologies that will change the world," according to Business 2.0, a U.S.-published monthly magazine. "Perhaps not many opportunities will come my way if I had chosen to stay in the United States," Yuan said, adding that Guangzhou's facilitating startup environment and strong government support have made his success possible.     
Guangzhou aims to build a "highland" in pooling in high-end talents, who are the driving force behind innovation. In 2016, the city published multiple policies to make it more convenient for talents to travel to and from China, live in the country, purchase homes and cars and arrange for their children's education. In 2017, the city will take out more than 10.8 billion yuan (US$1.64b) from its revenues to foster innovation. Thanks to the policies, Guangzhou is becoming a favored home to innovative talents from around the world.   

Meanwhile, Guangzhou became the first Chinese city to start a talent fair for overseas talents and a startup industrial park for returned overseas students to better serve their needs. A magnet for talents, Guangzhou has issued 2,515 green cards for talents by the first half of this year. Currently, six Nobel laureates, 79 Chinese academicians and 267 people included in the "Thousand Talents Program" are working in Guangzhou. The city comes second after Shanghai on the list of most attractive Chinese city for returned overseas students.

Apart from an influx of talents, Guangzhou boasts a rich home-grown talent pool that continuously fuels the city's innovation. The city is home to a majority of Guangdong's science and technology research institutes, including 83 institutions of higher learning, 44 province-level R&D institutes and 19 national key labs.
Research institutes: dispatching research results out of the labs

"Our goal is for the research results to leave the labs and the campus, and find a place in the market in the future," said Wang Debao, vice chief of the Pearl River Delta Institute of Tsinghua University (PRDITU). With an urgent need for industrial structural upgrade and reform in Pearl River Delta, a batch of market-oriented R&D centers like PRDITU have been set up in Guangzhou. Instead of just sending their research papers to libraries, they try to bridge the gap between research and the market.    

One research result of PRDITU has made a breakthrough in multi-phase monitoring used in oil fields, a technology long monopolized by European and American multinationals and previously a blank space in China. In May this year, PetroChina signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Tsinghua University's Graduate School at Shenzhen and PRDITU in researching the Internet of things in terms of petrol and gas production. "This is a typical and successful example of incubation, when multiple resources were coordinated to help speed up the market exploitation of research results," Wang said.

Aiming at the synergy of companies, universities and research institutes, Guangzhou is continuing its efforts in building a better platform for innovation. By July 2017, Guangzhou has ranked among the top 3 in Chinese cities in the number of excellent national-level incubators.
The innovative link: pooling global resources

The first venture capital and startup week was launched in Guangzhou last month, when 126 enterprises reached initial loan agreements worth 1.03 billion yuan and more than 100 high-tech firms caught the interest of investment companies. Officials with Guangzhou Commission of Science and Technology Innovation revealed that the city will soon publish 10 guidelines on venture capital investment. Meanwhile, the city will set up a 5-billion-yuan fund that helps the industrialization of research results. More than 1,000 projects from around the world gather at a startup fair in Guangzhou each year, displaying eye-opening designs and products and providing an opportunity for venture capital heavyweights to shop around.  

In the future, Guangzhou will also build a high-rise to house venture capital firms, set up the nation's first venture capital research institute, and build a venture capital and startup park named Yangwan 2025 Innovation Isle. Starting this year, China Venture Capital Forum will be held in turn in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, which will largely boost the development and environment of venture capital investment in the two cities. Meanwhile, large-scale events such as the China Overseas Talent Fair, Guangzhou AI Roundtable Seminar and China Bio Industry Conference have been held in the city. Guangzhou is chosen as the permanent venue for Fortune Brainstorm Tech International event, China Innovation and Technology Fair, and Canton Tower Science & Technology Conference. Fortune Global Forum will also be held in Guangzhou in December this year. All these events have pooled the global resources to Guangzhou, a city pushed to the front of global innovation tides.
U.S. experts: China amid an explosive period in innovation

Jonathan Woetzel, senior board member on McKinsey Global Institute, told reporters at the Fortune Global Forum roadshow in Silicon Valley that China is in the middle of an explosive period in innovation, as a digital reform has started huge waves in the country.

Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and Stanford University Professor Hau Lee, a migrant from Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, has worked at the university for 34 years. He attributes the success of Silicon Valley to its proximity to universities which train the next-generation tech talents. He thinks a mature system for research results to materialize into production is also a success ingredient.   

As different regions each has their unique ecology, the exchange between industries and regions will spark new ideas. For example, when 3-D printing is introduced into the auto industry, it will bring new growth points. Lee sees big opportunities in the cooperation between Silicon Valley and Guangzhou, with its improving startup ecology, a large cluster of universities, clear and facilitating policies and government efforts in setting up incubators to help startups.
Scientific research institutes

By July 2017, Guangzhou is home to 44 province-level R&D institutes, the biggest number among Guangdong cities.

By the end of 2016, Guangzhou is home to a majority of Guangdong's R&D institutes, including 83 institutions of higher learning, 44 province-level R&D institutes and 19 key national labs.


By July 2017, Guangzhou has 280 incubators, turning out revenues of 5.2 billion yuan, cashing out on research results and by offering technological services.

A total of 23 new high-tech incubators were set up, bringing the total number to 215. With an addition of 23 newcomers, the city now has 138 makerspaces.

By July 2017, Guangzhou is home to 2,995 province-certified high-tech enterprises. Output of the high-tech sectors reached 436.1 billion yuan in the first half of 2017, accounting for 46.4 percent of the total industrial output and an increase of 11.6 percent on the same period the previous year.
Innovative talents

By July 2017, the city has recruited five more experts included in the "Thousand Talents Program" and two more province-level innovative startup teams. So far, the city, home to six Nobel laureates, 79 Chinese academicians and 267 experts from the "Thousand Talents Program," has issued 2,515 green cards to talents.

(Statistics cited above are from Guangzhou Commission of Science and Technology Innovation, Guangzhou's CPC Publicity Department and published reports.)

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