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China’s ‘Silicon Valley’ expands

Zhang Zhao
Updated: Feb 22,2017 9:37 AM     China Daily

Widely known as “China’s Silicon Valley”, the Zhongguancun technology hub in Beijing has been expanded into the nearby Hebei province and Tianjin in an attempt to integrate resources and talent from the three regions, as per the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integrated development strategy.

Founded in Hebei in April 2015, the Baoding Zhongguancun Innovation Center is the first of its kind to be built outside Beijing. About 90 companies and startup teams have opened offices in the center, half of which are from the Chinese capital.

Hu Dehui, general manager of the center, said: “We are dedicated to implementing the innovation culture of Zhongguan into the projects. In that culture, change is the only thing unchanged, and innovation happens at all times.”

Founded in 2016, the Jiuwu Boron Industry Co at the center focuses on the research and application of boron-related technologies.

An Zefang, chairman of the company, said boron can be used in agriculture, medicines, military and the nuclear industry, but at the moment few companies were involved in the business, so the market is very promising.

His company’s current annual output value is about 100 million yuan ($14.6 million), but the Zhongguancun Innovation Center has helped him to find a local chemical company as a partner to invest 1.8 billion yuan to build a new boron fertilizer plant, which will increase the company’s annual output value to 600 million yuan.

An said he visited other industry parks before deciding to move to the center.

He said: “Officials from the Zhongguancun administrative committee are active to offer help, and we can get access to more and better resources, including senior experts, on the platform.”

The Tianjin Binhai Zhongguancun high-tech park is much younger. Founded in November 2016, it registered more than 30 companies in the first two months, in addition to another nearly 40 that are in the process of being approved.

Some Beijing-based IT giants are building facilities in the area, including the Baidu innovation center, which is designed to provide training and promotion for startups.

“We will learn from the experiences of Beijing Zhongguancun, but that does not mean we will copy them,” said Jin Donghu, executive director of the Tianjin Binhai Zhongguancun high-tech park.

“We will develop a new business and a new model. We will become link between Beijing, the innovation center, and Tianjin, the manufacturing base.”

Tianjin Jinghua Technology Co Ltd has an unmanned aerial vehicle team in the park, working on exploration and aerial photography. A new company will be set up based on his team.

Dai Tao, head of team, said they have close ties with Beijing Zhongguancun.

He said: “We often have experts from Beijing in to offer training, as the UAV business in Beijing is more developed. We tell the Binhai Zhongguancun administration what we need, and they will seek help for us.”

Their current clients are mostly in Tianjin, but they plan to expand their service to cover North China, he said.