City dis­trict changes on wave of re­form, open­ing-up

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By DU JUAN du­juan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Haidian dis­trict in Bei­jing, home to tech­nol­ogy hub Zhong­guan­cun, has be­come a pi­o­neer of sci­en­tific and tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion for China dur­ing the 40 years since the start of the coun­try’s re­form and open­ing-up.

Nearly 40 uni­corn com­pa­nies — star­tups worth more than $1 bil­lion — in ad­di­tion to 300 listed firms and 20,000 high-tech com­pa­nies are lo­cated in Haidian, which at 594 bil­lion yuan ($85.6 bil­lion) had the high­est GDP of the 16 dis­tricts in the cap­i­tal last year.

Since 2016, Haidian has been con­tribut­ing the most to the city in terms of eco­nomic growth.

“Once we re­turned to China af­ter grad­u­at­ing from col­leges in the US, the first place we thought of to set up our com­pany was Haidian,” said Lin Fan, who leads a team on ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence ap­pli­ca­tions re­search.

Lin said Haidian’s top tal­ent, great in­no­va­tion fa­cil­i­ties and gov­ern­ment poli­cies helped him and his team choose the dis­trict as the start­ing lo­ca­tion of its busi­ness dreams.

In the past few years, Haidian has been car­ry­ing out var­i­ous pref­er­en­tial poli­cies for science and tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion. It has been in­vest­ing in­creas­ingly to at­tract com­pa­nies to set up of­fices and to sup­port re­search and in­no­va­tion cen­ters.

An in­no­va­tion fund co-in­vested by the dis­trict gov­ern­ment, pri­vate com­pa­nies and a nat­u­ral science fund — the first of its kind in Bei­jing — will in­vest 30 mil­lion yuan this year to teams.

“We hope that our gov­ern­ment can share more of the startup risks at their early stage, in­clud­ing fun­da­men­tal re­search, proof of con­cept, in­cu­ba­tion and bring­ing the prod­uct to mar­ket,” said Yu Jun, Party chief of Haidian dis­trict.

He said the gov­ern­ment will pro­vide a full chain of ser­vices to sup­port re­search teams and star­tups. help in­no­va­tion re­search

“Start­ing from this year, we plan to se­lect 20 projects an­nu­ally from the pub­lic and pro­vide a sub­sidy of up to 500,000 yuan each to sup­port early stage re­search,” he said. “At the same time, we will in­vite sci­en­tists, busi­ness lead­ers and in­vestors to be men­tors for those projects.”

See­ing mod­ern of­fice build­ings and high-tech cen­ters in Haidian, es­pe­cially in the Zhong­guan­cun area, it’s hard to imag­ine that decades ago, the place was full of crowded elec­tron­ics whole­sale mar­kets.

The dis­trict started re­con­struc­tion in 2010. Ac­cord­ing to the Haidian dis­trict gov­ern­ment, the western Zhong­guan­cun area has re­moved 600,000 square me­ters of elec­tron­ics whole­sale mar­kets and con­sumer ar­eas and in­tro­duced 59 in­cu­ba­tors such as in­no­va­tion work­places and six uni­corn com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Ofo, NIO and Rong360.

Ding Zhe, 43, a Bei­jinger who used to live in Haidian, said there were not too many com­pa­nies in the dis­trict when he was young.

“It has been grow­ing rapidly, es­pe­cially in the past eight years, as in­no­va­tion be­came the eco­nomic driver in the area,” he said. “I still re­mem­ber the time I bought com­puter com­po­nents and made one by my­self in Zhong­guan­cun. It’s to­tally dif­fer­ent now, but I like how it’s go­ing.”

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