Tianfu bio-town proves a magnet for global excellence
Chengdu is pushing to deepen close cooperation between universities and companies — and in doing so is becoming a power magnet attracting global excellence — as part of a push to boost its overall economic transformation and development.
In early May, the Sichuan capital hosted the 1st International Target and Drug Discovery Summit and the Inaugurating Conference for the Society of Target and Drug Discovery — when it was announced that the STDD was settling in the Chengdu Tianfu International BioTown.
The STDD was initiated by Sichuan University in 2017, gathering universities worldwide including Columbia University, the National University of Singapore and City University of Hong Kong, and various companies including HitGen Ltd, a biotech company in Chengdu.
Wei Yuquan, director of the State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy at Sichuan University, said that STDD had a clear mandate.
He said it would focus on identifying therapeutic targets for treatment of human diseases and discovering early phase drugs, advancing progress on targets and drug discoveries via international cooperation.
In addition, the STDD will set up its own offices to provide consulting services for companies in the bio-town and to hold regular international meetings.
As a hub of the biological medicine industry, the bio-town has been constructing modern biological industrial systems with international competitiveness and worldclass biological industrial zones.
To date, the town has brought in four Nobel Prize laureate teams, three teams from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering and 21 teams composed of high-level returned overseas Chinese. It has signed up to 98 projects worth more than 90 billion yuan ($14.14 billion).
Li Jin, president of HitGen, said he had witnessed the extraordinary development of the bio-town.
“The ambience of research and development in the town makes me feel that it is home to the biological medicine industry,” Li said. He also serves as a member of the board of directors at the STDD and is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
One of the first companies to settle in the town, HitGen established China’s first and the world’s fourth seed bank. It signed contracts worth 2.7 billion yuan in 2017.
Another major move in early May was a landmark agreement signed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, its affiliate in
The ambiance of research and development in the town makes me feel that it is home to the biological medicine industry.”
Li Jin, president of HitGen
Chengdu and the city government, which is expected to push collaboration between CAS and Chengdu to new heights, local officials said.
The parties plan to set up a new CAS Chengdu institute, dedicated to the new-generation artificial intelligence industry in Tianfu New Area.
The school under construction will initially focus on the studies of photoelectricity, life sciences, resources and the environment, innovation and entrepreneurship, AI and continuing education.
Later, it will expand its research fields into integrated circuits and other areas, in line with the city’s industrial development plan.
According to the agreement, the new institute will build an integrated teaching facility, library and academic exchange center in its first construction phase, and will complete the campus infrastructure construction by 2020.
The number of students at the new school in Chengdu is estimated to reach 1,500 in 2025 and is projected to rise to 3,000 in 2030, according to the development plan.
Chengdu has intensified its efforts to cooperate with universities and encourage commercialization of scientific achievements.
Last year, the city signed a number of strategic cooperation agreements with Tsinghua University, Peking University, Harbin Institute of Technology, the University of International Business and Economics, and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
To date, the cooperation has expanded to 15 universities, taking in over 1,000 projects for commercializing and industrializing the schools’ research results, which has attracted 875 million yuan in non-government capital.
The Chengdu science and technology bureau has promoted cooperation between universities and enterprises.
From December 2017 to April, the bureau established links with more than 160 institutions and companies and signed contracts involving 152 projects.
Li Jin (far right), president of HitGen, and his research team conduct an experiment at the company’s lab in Chengdu.
A technician works on a communication navigation system for the C919, the first Chinese-built passenger jet.