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Shanghai OKs draft plan to be an innovation hub

Wang Ying
Updated: May 26,2015 10:13 AM     China Daily

Shanghai approved a draft plan on May 25 for building the city into a technological innovation center.

According to the proposal, by 2020 the city will complete the framework for such a center with global influence. By 2030, the core functions of a global innovation center will be in place.

Construction of such a center will enhance the city, which is already on the road to establishing an international economic center, a financial center, a trade center and a shipping center, China Securities Journal reported.

In March, Deputy Mayor Zhou Bo disclosed that the priority of the city’s work agenda for this year was “to greatly implement the strategy of innovation-driven development” and “to speed up establishing the technology innovation center”, news website reported.

To achieve this goal, Zhou said the government will pilot a new immigration policy, special taxation for angel investors, the identification of more high-tech enterprises and the establishment of a strategic emerging industries board.

“This initiative is in line with Shanghai’s goal of becoming an international financial, shipping and trade center by 2020,” said Yan Yanming, a researcher with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Innovation could happen at different levels, from small community platforms to specialized incubators, and from State-owned companies and multinational corporations to the city government itself.

“Innovation could be supported by favorable policies, subsidies or startup funds,” said Yan.

In the next five years, the Shanghai Pudong Software Park will provide a minimum of 300 million yuan ($48.4 million) to support business startups.

“Such a goal is in line with the city’s ambition of building a global technological innovation center,” said Zhang Sulong, general manager of Shanghai Pudong Software Park Co Ltd.

The new goal is expected to provide technology-driven companies such as Honeywell with a huge, strategic opportunity to drive smarter and more sustainable growth through innovation.

“As the country’s financial center and economic powerhouse, Shanghai can play a key role in driving the country’s transformation and sustainable development,” said Shane Tedjarati, president of Honeywell’s global high-growth regions.

“Innovation is the most important driving force for this development. Honeywell will be highly committed to joining hands with local authorities and businesses in developing Shanghai as an international technological innovation center.”

Once the multinationals and universities and other institutions connect and find cooperative solutions, we will see a lot of the creative ideas turning into practical products, said Yan.

“But it is also worth noting that, compared with its international counterparts, Shanghai is still lagging behind in state-of-the-art technologies, and such a gap could only be filled by policy, investment and talent,” Yan said.

Last year, 83.1 billion yuan was poured into R&D in Shanghai-3.6 percent of the city’s GDP.

Five aspects key to global development

While developing Shanghai into a technology innovation center with global influence, five aspects are of great importance, according to a report jointly published by a research group from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the China Engineering Technology Development Strategy Research Center in Shanghai.

The city should pay special attention to basic scientific research, research and development of advanced technology, building innovative enterprise clusters, setting up a creative resources market and forming an industrial chain that turns innovation into products.

By comparing the technological performance of Shanghai with international innovation centers such as New York, Silicon Valley, Tokyo and Singapore, the research group lists 20 key indexes for the city to work on.

In the last three decades, Shanghai’s least available resource was not capital, technology, talent or land, but entrepreneurs, according to the research group.

It is suggested that municipal government should undertake policies that provide a favorable environment for innovation.

Once the eco-environment for creation and starting a business is formed, great entrepreneurs like Alibaba’s Jack Ma will emerge naturally, said Ma Xingfa, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Commission.

Targets for 2030

1. Advanced center for basic scientific research

To have one or two universities listed in the world’s top 50

2. Cutting-edge technology R&D centers

To have 240 of the Fortune 500 multinational corporations build their R&D centers in Shanghai, employing about 300,000 R&D professionals

3. Innovative enterprises cluster

To have 30 of the Fortune 500 companies locate their global headquarters in Shanghai

4. Creative resources center

To become a top-five destination for global venture capital

5. Center for turning innovations into practical products

To secure $40 billion worth of contracts for technology imports and exports