Tianfu bio-town proves a mag­net for global ex­cel­lence

China Daily - - ADVERTORIAL - By LIANG KAIYAN liangkaiyan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Li Jin (far right), pres­i­dent of HitGen, and his re­search team con­duct an ex­per­i­ment at the com­pany’s lab in Chengdu.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

A tech­ni­cian works on a com­mu­ni­ca­tion nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem for the C919, the first Chi­nese-built pas­sen­ger jet.

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