Shanghai becoming ideal choice for sci-tech enterprises

(en.sh-italent.com)Updated : 2022-08-15

Around the world, it is becoming more and more clear that enterprises related to science and technology are moving into the international metropolises' central business districts. Is the downtown area appropriate for sci-tech enterprises? Shanghai's Huangpu district's development may have the solution.

The district has made fruitful achievements in terms of science and technology innovation industries in 2021. The total tax revenue of the science and innovation service industry in the district increased by 39.6 percent year-on-year, surpassing other key industries for the first time. In the first half of this year, the district's growth rate maintained the same leading position.

The high-speed development of the science and technology innovation industry was born from the assembly of outstanding enterprises. In 2021, the district introduced 72 scientific and technological innovation enterprises, increasing by 140 percent year-on-year, and the added value of registered capital increased by 185 percent year-on-year. In recent years, a batch of leading enterprises specializing in blockchain, robotics, CRO/SMO and semiconductor chips chose to settle in Huangpu. To better serve Shanghai's function of providing science and technology innovation resources, Huangpu would further develop science and technology innovation industries by focusing on the fields of financial technology, biological medicine, and artificial intelligence (AI) to become an international innovative district featuring an outstanding innovative capacity, abundant innovative resources, comprehensive innovative industries and a good innovation ecosystem.

Human resources gain more attention from scientific and technological innovation enterprises

"NeuroXess" is a scientific and technological innovation enterprise specializing in brain-computer interfaces. Its core technologies, which can be applied for diagnosis and treatment of major clinical brain diseases and explore brain functions, are considered to be an important means of treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, high paraplegia, epilepsy and other major brain diseases and won the highest reward at the SAIL at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in 2021. Last October, NeuroXess settled in Huangpu district and received about 100 million yuan ($14.8 million) venture capital, the biggest investment capital of early financing in China's brain-computer interface field.

Why did "NeuroXess" choose Huangpu without hesitation? Tao Hu, founder of the enterprise, explained that the regional advantages of the district attracted him most as it is the core area of Shanghai's downtown area.

For now, high-quality scientific and technological innovation enterprises would consider the comprehensive factors rather than land area when choosing a place to settle down. The comprehensive factors include whether a place is near a major market and will benefit from capital gains, has enough application scenarios and is attractive enough to innovative talents. Tao said that Huangpu has advantages in these aspects as it is rich in capital and application scenarios and near a major market. It also has a colorful urban lifestyle to attract innovative talents of all kinds.

"In particular, the ability to attract talent is the most important factor for many scientific and technological innovation enterprises to settle down in an area," said an official at the Huangpu District Science and Technology Commission. He explained that compound talent is the main force for modern science and technological innovation. The central urban area is the birthplace for high-end industries and makes it easy to cultivate inter-disciplinary talents. At the same time, the diverse living environment, convenient transportation and communication are also very attractive to talents.

There is an obvious trend happening throughout the world that is "technology returning to urban areas". In recent years, a batch of innovative science and technology clusters have sprung up in international metropolises such as New York, London, San Francisco, Boston and Tokyo. They have carried out activities for urban renewal and innovative factor assembling and managed to integrate various technologies and industrial models. For example, New York has 50,000 innovative scientific and technological enterprises, making it the second largest innovation cluster in the United States after Silicon Valley. These scientific and technological innovation enterprises are mainly distributed in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and other central urban areas. London is home to half of the UK's unicorn technology enterprises, and the old capital of East London has become an influential innovation cluster and attracts many world-renowned technology enterprises to settle down in the area.

"China places scientific and technological innovation at the core of its overall development and strives to achieve a high level of scientific and technological self-reliance. With the main goal of ‘strengthening the function of scientific and technological innovation sources and enhancing the core competitiveness of the city', Shanghai is establishing its position to become a science and innovation center with a global influence. Huangpu district closely follows the national and local science and technology development strategy, serves both China and Shanghai, and adjusts its position accordingly," said Gao Yun, Party secretary of Hangpu district.

As the "heart, window and name card" of Shanghai, Huangpu district enjoys a superior geographical location. For many years, its economic aggregate has been the highest among the central areas of Shanghai, and its economic density was also highly ranked in China. In recent years, the district has also paid close attention to the international trend of scientific and technological innovation enterprises returning to the center of the city and sped up the formulation of its industrial direction based on its geographical characteristics and regional development. "Facing the opportunity of a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, Huangpu actively grasped and made good use of the trend of science and technology returning to the city ," said Shen Shanzhou, head of Huangpu district.

Efforts made to cultivate and attract leading enterprises

Huangpu district has been cultivating science and technology innovation as an emerging industry. In recent years, it has been striving to foster the "Huangpu Four Science and Technology Innovation Tigers" which refers to the leading enterprises in the fields of blockchain, robotics, CRO/SMO and semiconductor chips, in hopes of attracting more leading enterprises of subdivided industries to settle down in the area.

"Huangpu Four Science and Technology Innovation Tigers" are composed of characteristic industries featuring science and technology innovation developed based on Huangpu's regional industrial characteristics. In order to strengthen Shanghai's function of scientific and technological innovation sources, the district will focus on more frontier and emerging characteristic industries in the field of scientific and technological innovation,

Beijing East Road used to be well-known for hardware, but it is currently transforming. One of the most striking tall buildings along the road is Haipai Valley, a scientific and innovative enterprise specializing in robotics.

Haipai Valley is an example of transformation. The place used to be the SEG Electronics Market and now is the most well-known place for AI robotics in Shanghai. In the 2,250-square-meter experience center, more than 20 AI enterprises demonstrate their intelligent equipment and products, such as commercial entertainment robots, intelligent service robots, intelligent security police patrol robots, and intelligent medical and epidemic prevention robots. Some AI corporate brands regard "Haipai Valley" as the first place to introduce their new products to the market. For example, the ABB robot interactive scene launched by ABB Group, a global top 500 enterprise, made its debut here. Haier, a world renowned service provider, has set up its listed subsidiary Haier Smart Home in Haipai Valley and built the third-generation "Internet of Clothes" smart store, which can provide smart solutions for life-cycle scenarios including washing, caring, storage, collocation, purchasing, and recycling.

After years of cultivation, a number of leading enterprises of subdivided industries specializing in blockchain, robotics, CRO/SMO and semiconductor chips have made Huangpu district their home.

In the field of blockchain, Huangpu district has introduced the blockchain company Ant Group, a unicorn enterprise with the largest number of patents in the world, and Quyilian Technology, the Shanghai-subsidiary headquarters of Hangzhou Qulian Co Ltd. In the field of special robots, the Special Robot Center of the 21st Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation is developing rapidly, and the leading humanoid robot company Avatar has been introduced. The "Haipai Valley" robot application and exhibition center on Beijing East Road has begun to take shape. In the field of CRO/SMO, there are ClinPlus, the first listed SMO enterprise in China, and WuXi Clinical, a global CRO providing a comprehensive range of services in clinical development. In the semiconductor chip field, there are Analog Devices, a world-leading high performance semiconductor company, and Wingtech Technology, a well-known semiconductor and communication product producer.

Institutional innovation made to promote scientific and technological innovation industries

Any change in the field of science and technology innovation would exert influence on the technology development and commercial application of other fields. Many original and disruptive technological achievements have brought about revolutionary influences to the industry. The three major industries in Huangpu are finance, trade and commerce, and professional services, all of which are playing an important role in regional development. The district has capitalized on its energy through the development of science and technological innovation.

Since last year, the district targeted investment promotion for scientific and technological innovation enterprises. A new team comprised by young officials that were selected from related departments was established. The team members were given the assignment to conduct a thorough investigation into one technical frontier on the team's first day of operation and were compelled to develop close relationships with businesses. The district instructed the team members to learn about technology, development trends, markets, investments, and services since they considered that only qualified authorities could have in-depth conversations with scientific firms. With these efforts, the district established 72 scientific and technology enterprises in 2021, a 140 percent growth from that in 2020 and an 185 percent increase in registered capital year-on-year.

High business costs are an obstacle for the district to attract scientific and technological innovation enterprises. To solve the problem, Huangpu State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission invested 1 billion yuan to set up the Scientific and Technological Innovation Group to support newly-established enterprises.

The group plans to focus on five core business sectors, the development and management of scientific and technological innovation parks, industrial investment promotion and enterprise services, the development and investment of the scientific and technological industry, and digital technology, striving to promote the assembly of emerging industries to accelerate the development of scientific and technological enterprises, and to facilitate the integration of different industries. The group also plans to promote the development of financial technology, artificial intelligence, biological medicine and the digital economy to form new driving forces for the development of scientific and technological innovation industries in Huangpu district.

Huangpu Scientific and Technological Innovation Group's initial objective was to renovate vacant space in order to construct a high-quality carrier that will be made available to scientific and technological innovation firms at a reasonable price. The group currently owns 50,000 sq m of carrier space. The group will work to create an ecosystem for innovation and put up a communication platform to encourage business collaboration and the use of technology in realistic settings.

Huangpu district has made it clear in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) that it will build an important service area and a characteristic functional area to deepen the construction of a science and innovation center in Shanghai. Recently, the district is working on technological innovation policies with a focus on financial technology, biological medicine, artificial intelligence and other key areas, in an effort to attract energetic innovative entities, stimulate innovation projects, build a highland for talents, release potential scenario elements, and create favorable cultural environment for innovation. Plans are also being made to build Huangpu into an international urban innovation zone featuring abundant innovation resources, comprehensive innovative industries and superior innovation ecosystem.