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Shanghai unveils steps to attract foreign R&D centers

Zhou Wenting
Updated: Oct 17,2017 9:48 AM     China Daily

Shanghai authorities have rolled out new measures to woo more foreign-funded research and development centers to the city as part of the efforts to transform it into a global technological innovation hub by 2030.

According to the 15-article policy, recently approved by the Shanghai municipal government, high-level foreign R&D centers in Shanghai will be granted the same privileges as regional headquarters of multinational companies.

“That is to say, such R&D centers will obtain policy and financial support from the local government and enjoy more simplified services in terms of entry and exit procedures, talent introduction and customs clearance,” Shang Yuying, head of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce, told a media briefing.

“It is the first time that foreign R&D centers are getting such policy support in China. We hope to attract more global R&D centers of multinational companies that are at the highest level within the company and carry the function of allocating R&D resources around the globe,” she said.

Currently there are 416 foreign R&D centers in Shanghai, which accounts for one-fourth of the total in China. About 20 of them invest over $10 million annually and have more than 40,000 Chinese R&D staff, according to the commission.

Several innovative global products have originated from these centers. According to Shang, 22 products from the Shanghai-based China R&D Center of US-based medical device manufacturer Medtronic have entered the market since its establishment five years ago, with 17 of them targeting mainly at foreign markets.

The new measures also include preferential policies for foreign employers of these centers to have easier access to services and less processing time for work permits.

“Qualified expats will be given multiple entry visas valid for five to 10 years and provided with more sophisticated social services, including medical, health services and children’s schooling,” said Yang Chao, deputy head of the commission.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said in a report in December that for Shanghai to succeed in its ambitious goal to be a global center, the city will need strong support and participation of foreign businesses, investment and talent.

“Critical to Shanghai’s ambitions will be whether the city remains attractive to global talent. Ensuring that it does so, will require raising the quality of life in the city and further opening the regime for the issuance of visas, working permits and hukou,” said Michael Adams, chairman of the Shanghai chapter of the European Chamber.