Beijing sees new achievements in building international sci-tech innovation hub

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Autopilot vehicles and smart electric vehicles are exhibited at the exhibition area of Zhongguancun Forum in Beijing, capital of China, May 28, 2023. (Photo by Chen Xiaogen/People's Daily Online)
Autopilot vehicles and smart electric vehicles are exhibited at the exhibition area of Zhongguancun Forum in Beijing, capital of China, May 28, 2023. (Photo by Chen Xiaogen/People's Daily Online)

Benchmarking leading global sci-tech innovation hubs like New York, Paris, London, Tokyo and Singapore, Beijing stands out in the number of highly cited papers, Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patents, top 200 research institutes, and major scientific facilities, with many indexes reaching world-leading levels.

Today, Beijing ranks first nationwide in more than 10 indicators, including the number of invention patents per 10,000 people, PCT annual growth, the share of basic research funding in R&D and the share in national tech contract turnover.

A recent report noted that Beijing has made remarkable progress in building an international sci-tech innovation center, and its global influence has initially taken shape.
A 50 MeV proton cyclotron in Beijing’s Huairou Science City has completed trial runs and been officially put into service. It is a key component of a space science R&D, testing and support platform for satellite series and payload, one of the first interdisciplinary research platforms in the Huairou Science City.

Beijing is accelerating the building of its Huairou district into a national comprehensive science center. So far, 29 major scientific facilities, critical sci-tech infrastructures, and interdisciplinary research platforms have entered the construction and operation stages.
The Chinese capital has established eight world-class new-type R&D institutes in quantum, blockchain, AI and other fields. Leveraging universities and research institutes in Beijing, the city has also built seven national technology innovation centers, three national manufacturing innovation centers, and 78 national engineering research centers.

Zhang Jihong, head of the Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission and Administrative Commission of Zhongguancun Science Park, told People’s Daily that the three national labs, located in China’s “Silicon Valley” Zhongguancun, Changping district and Huairou district, have achieved high-quality and normalized operation.
The number of national key labs in Beijing has achieved 80, the highest nationwide, Zhang added.

“Investment in basic research will lay a better foundation for future scientific innovation,” said Wu Hequan, academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
“Beijing has become a major force in the global innovation network, providing strong support for China to become an innovative nation,” he added.

Statistics show that Beijing’s R&D spending exceeded 6.5 percent of the city’s GDP in 2022, which is 2.7 times the national average. Basic research accounted for around 16 percent of the spending.

Besides, with 218 invention patents per 10,000 people in 2022, Beijing led all Chinese cities in patent intensity.

In recent years, Beijing has made tremendous efforts to build a three-tier international sci-tech innovation system led by national laboratories to enhance the capability for original innovation and source supply.

New R&D institutes have pioneered a management mechanism with five new measures to spur sci-tech innovation. Reforms of high-end talent cultivation, recruitment, and evaluation systems have continuously improved the incentive mechanism and the ensured orderly flow of talent.

New growth engines continue to emerge in Beijing, and the city’s sci-tech innovation capabilities are steadily rising.

At present, Beijing boasts nearly 100 universities and over 1,000 research institutes. It holds the third place globally in the number of unicorn companies, and has topped the Nature Index for scientific research for six consecutive times.

This fertile ground of sci-tech innovation has cultivated world-class original breakthroughs in areas such as the quantum anomalous Hall effect, Majorana fermion, and tumor immunotherapies.

“A new tech firm is established every 5 minutes,” said Zhang Yulei, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission & Administrative Commission of Zhongguancun Science Park.

In 2022, an average of 293 tech firms were founded every day in Beijing, with a 12-percent annual growth in the number of returned overseas students and foreign practitioners.

Partner of Sequoia China Zhou Kui said enterprises’ sustained growth owes much to Beijing’s favorable development environment.

“We firmly believe more original achievements and leading enterprises with global influence will form on Beijing’s fertile sci-tech soil. We will continue rooting in Beijing and increasing our investment,” he noted.

The continuously optimized innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem is attracting global sci-tech talents and capital.

For instance, over 300 multinational corporations have established regional headquarters or R&D centers in Beijing’s Zhongguancun so far. In 2022, the total exports of enterprises in Zhongguancun reached 320.23 billion yuan (around $44 billion), 1.9 times that of 2012.

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