By Ji Juesu, Xie Weiqun
Pudong New Area in east China’s Shanghai municipality is ramping up efforts to grow into a more influential and vibrant innovation hub.
At a 1,000-square-meter experience hall of Zhangjiang AI Robot Valley of the area, where robots can perform a lot of tasks, including making coffee, conducting surgery, and solving Rubik’s Cube, visitors feel as if they were in the future world.
Although some industrial parks of Zhangjiang township are still under construction, many businesses have raced to set up offices in the place.
In one to two years, a robotics innovation center equipped with incubator, industrial chain, and supporting services will be put into operation in the heartland of Pudong New Area and the center of Zhangjiang Science City of the area. The robotics innovation center is located only eight kilometers of Zhangjiang AI Island in the north and adjacent to advanced manufacturing clusters in Kangqiao township of Pudong New Area. In addition, an industrial park of 5G carrier China Telecom is also situated in the robotics innovation center.
Many multinational sci-tech innovation enterprises have seen opportunities in Zhangjiang AI Robot Valley.
In July, Fourier Intelligence, a Shanghai-based technology company which has established overseas branches in cities including London and Chicago and exports products to more than 20 countries around the world, moved its headquarters to Zhangjiang AI Robot Valley.
In the first quarter of the next year, Swiss tech giant ABB’s $150-million gigafactory is expected to be comprehensively put into operation in Zhangjiang AI Robot Valley. In the future, a manufacturing mode featuring “robots making robots” will be created there.
A relatively complete AI innovation chain covering various links, from technological breakthroughs and R&D to production and market expansion, has taken shape in Pudong New Area.
One third of the AI companies in Shanghai are located in Pudong New Area. Last year, the output value of AI companies in the area amounted to 91 billion yuan (about $14.05 billion), accounting for 40 percent of that of AI industry in Shanghai.
Pudong New Area has also realized all-round development of industrial chains in integrated circuits and biomedicine.
After years of development, the area’s integrated circuits industry has covered design, manufacturing, package test, equipment material, and other links.
According to reports, two of the global top five silicon wafer foundry companies are headquartered in Zhangjiang township; six of the top ten semiconductor equipment manufacturers in the world have established their headquarters and R&D centers in Zhangjiang; and among the top ten chip design companies in China, seven have established headquarters and R&D centers in the township.
Last year, the output value of Pudong New Area’s integrated circuits field rose 20.5 percent from the previous year to 147.1 billion yuan, accounting for 71 percent of the output value of Shanghai’s integrated circuits industry and one sixth of that of the country.
Biomedicine is also seeing all-round development in Pudong New Area, where there are almost all the key factors for growth, including talents, R&D institutions, innovation chain, and the industrial system.
In fact, 15 percent of China’s innovator drugs and 10 percent of the country’s innovative medical devices are created in the area. During the past five years, seven Class I new drugs invented in the area got market approval for public use, which accounted for nearly 15 percent of that approved in the country. During the same period, nearly 40 Class I new drugs, or about 20 percent of the Class I new drugs invented in the country, were put in clinical trials every year by companies in Pudong New area.
Pudong New Area’s business environment featuring efficiency, openness, international competitiveness, and obvious advantage of talents can help Covestro China improve its strength for innovation and competitiveness, said Holly Lei, president of the China division of new materials manufacturer Covestro.
On July 29, the government of Pudong New Area released its Group Open Innovation (GOI) plan, aiming to give play to large enterprises’ innovation resources and advantage of global innovation network and gather, cultivate, and incubate small and medium-sized sci-tech firms in the innovation chain for collaborative innovation.
The first 20 projects of the plan are focused on key industries and have been participated by well-known innovative companies including Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Baidu, and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China.
Pudong New Area is now home to 966 R&D organizations set up by key enterprises and foreign-funded R&D centers, and the number is expected to exceed 1,000 this year. These R&D organizations and centers all have the potential to enjoy rapid development within a few years and realize explosive growth in their respective fields.
In addition, planning for 22 open innovation centers of large Chinese and foreign enterprises is underway in the area.
With further efforts to optimize business environment for innovation, Pudong New Area has demonstrated growing awareness of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.
In 2017, China (Pudong) IPR Protection Center was inaugurated in the area. Over the past four years, the IPR protection center, which specializes in the management and protection of patent, trademark and copyright, has received more than 10,000 visits for consultation and provided services for 977 applicants.
An entrepreneurial team led by Wang Weifeng, a postdoctoral researcher who has returned to China after studying abroad, got approval of medical devices within merely 70 days.
Thanks to a special review and approval procedure for innovative medical devices, the IPR protection center provides preliminary patent review service for Wang’s team, thus helping the team which possesses tumor sequencing technology get through the critical link in the launch of products.
“The service is just what companies need. It has not only protected the inventions and innovations of our company, but helped us get in on the ground floor of the global market,” Wang said.