Guangzhou aims to become an international innovation hub by facilitating technological innovation

BY :lifeofguangzhou.com

UPDATED :August 6, 2017


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Home to nearly 70 percent of the universities and high-tech talents, 97 percent of the state-level key disciplines and all state-level key labs of Guangdong province, Guangzhou is rich in innovative resources. In recent years, the city has followed the national strategy of innovation-driven growth to facilitate the cooperation between research and industries as well as home and abroad, consolidating financial resources, IPR and talents. It has doubled the expenditure in research subsidies and high-tech incubators. Led by companies and verified by the market, Guangzhou's innovation efforts have set up new examples. The city is aiming to become a state-level innovative city and international high-tech innovation hub.  

I. Optimizing the innovative environment
According to the plan of "one innovation zone and 19 industrial parks," the city is working to establish the Guangzhou national independent innovation zone and streamline the existing high-tech industrial parks, including Guangzhou High-tech Industry Development Zone, Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, Guangzhou Science City, Pazhou Internet Innovation Zone, Guangzhou International Bio Island and Guangzhou International Innovation City, to form a high-tech innovation corridor. Tencent, Alibaba and 12 other leading tech companies opened branches in the Pazhou Internet Innovation Zone with a total investment of 55 billion yuan (US$8.1 billion). Foxconn is building an LCD panel factory to produce its 10.5-generation panels in Zengcheng. General Electric (GE) is building a project at the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, whose laboratories will greatly facilitate the R&D of local biomedicine companies.

1. Reforming the management of high-tech sectors 

The city published 10 new policies ("1+9" technical innovation policies) to encourage technical innovation and five new policies ("1+4" talent policies) to attract high-end talents. It dropped the previous one-off fund allocations for high-tech companies and opted for giving out subsidies to firms whose existing projects need further investment. About 80 percent of government high-tech subsidies are now given to existing projects and 80 percent of the subsidies are given to companies that initiated projects. The city launched a new policy to cut red tapes by cutting the number of projects under planning by 35 percent and cutting required information in declaration by 38.1 percent. Previously, companies had to declare 155 items, which is now reduced to 96, so that they can submit 66.6 percent less paperwork in the form of proving materials.
2. Co-development of finance and high-tech 

The city is building a high-tech financial service system that includes a high-tech investment platform, lending platform and capital market financing platform. It started a lending risk compensation fund pool with an initial investment of 400 million yuan to support technology SMEs. Some 605 companies have been given 5.59 billion yuan in credit loans from banks, the biggest number among Chinese cities. A total of 404 Guangzhou-based companies are listed on the New OTC market, with 203 been listed in 2016. Both figures top Chinese provincial capital cities. With 56 companies entering the Premium Tier of the OTC market, the listed companies in all have a market value of 118 billion yuan. Guangzhou is also planning to start a fund to facilitate the research-to-production process, with the city government offering 5 billion yuan.      
3. A continuously growing innovation force 

The number and scale of innovative technology companies are on continuous rise, reaching more than 127,000 in total. Guangzhou ranks top 3 among all Chinese cities in the number of companies that make the top 50 Most Innovative Chinese Companies list for three consecutive years. With a plan to cultivate "little innovation giants" and high-tech companies in general, Guangzhou now is home to 4,739 high-tech companies, with 2,820 established in 2016. That growth rate tops sub-provincial cities in China. The city published a set of new regulations, planning to select 100 innovative companies each year for five consecutive years and help them become industry leaders.   
4. A continuously improving system of innovation platforms 

There are 203 high-tech incubators in the city, occupying over 8.5 million square meters of floor space. Guangzhou is a forerunner for two consecutive years in the competition of having the biggest number of "excellent" national incubators. It has 139 unique and diversified maker spaces including one run by Da An Gene Co., Ltd. and Zhongda Innovation Valley. It leads Guangdong cities in the number of province-level new research and development institutions, which has reached 44. The city has set up 130 Industry-Academia-Research innovation federations in health and medicine, 3-D printing, robotics and the Internet of things. It's working to set up labs in regenerative medicine, oceanic science and environmental science in collaboration with national and provincial research projects.      
5. A growing international influence in high-end innovation
Guangzhou successfully held large-scale events such as the China Innovation and Technology Fair, the Cross-Straits Fair for Economy and Trade, and Canton Tower Science & Technology Conference. Fortune Global Forum will also be held this year. Guangzhou topped forbeschina.com's list of the best commercial cities on the Chinese mainland for five times. It also topped the list of Chinese Cities of Opportunities for two consecutive years, according to a report jointly released by PwC China and China Development Research Foundation (CDRF). With a "talent green card" policy in place, the card holders enjoy the same treatment as Guangzhou citizens in nine aspects including home buying and children's schooling. About 2,200 green cards have been issued so far. The city opened two offices respectively in the Silicon Valley and Boston, the United States on March 14, whose mission is to facilitate the exchange and cooperation between Guangzhou and the outside world in terms of science and technological innovations, research projects and talents.     
II. Key goals in Guangzhou's technological innovation
The duration of the "13th Five-year Plan" is a golden time window for Guangzhou to achieve high-end sustainable development. It will push forward technological innovation and help its high-tech companies to expand. The focus will be on fintech, next-generation information technology, AI and biomedicine. By opening up high-tech sectors and introducing in high-end innovation resources, Guangzhou aims to become an international technological innovation hub and national stronghold in innovation.     
1. Guangzhou will focus on setting up innovation platforms and high-tech industrial parks.
The key projects include Pazhou Internet Innovation Zone, the national innovation and startup base in Guangzhou Science City, Foxconn's 10.5-generation LCD panel ecological park and Cisco China Innovation Center. It will streamline the existing high-tech parks and introduce pilot policies to facilitate independent innovation. Industrial companies whose main business revenues surpass 500 million yuan will all have their own R&D institutes, and 40 percent of those with revenues surpassing 20 million will have R&D departments. The aim is for R&D expense to reach 2.7 percent of the city's GDP. It's working to set up province-level and state-level labs in regenerative medicine, oceanic science and environmental science.      
2. Fostering all types of high-tech companies
In 2017, Guangzhou has seen the birth of more than 2,000 high-tech companies and more than 20,000 startups, with hopes to bring the total number of tech companies to 150,000 by yearend. The city will be home to 200,000 tech companies by 2020. Guangzhou will choose 100 companies that are leaders in their field and offer them individualized services on top of financial support. Special teams from the government will work closely with the chosen companies, helping them to clear obstacles and expand.
3. Focusing on fintech and pushing forward with three work plans
The city will build a South China venture capital center, and start a fund to facilitate the research-to-production process. The city government offers 5 billion yuan in initial investment, hoping to draw over 20 billion yuan from social investment. With a fintech corporation in the plan, the city will push the Guangzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone, Guangzhou Science, Technology and Innovation Commission and SFund to set up a biomedicine fund to fuel the growth of this sector. The city is implementing a 10-billion-yuan credit loan plan. With a 1-billion-yuan risk compensation fund pool, the plan will help companies borrow 10 billion yuan in 2017. The city aims to get 200 companies listed on the New OTC market and 1,000 companies listed at Guangzhou equity trading center. It will continue to push for local companied to get listed on Shanghai, Shenzhen stock markets and ChiNext.          
4. Focusing on key projects in next-generation information technology, AI and biomedicine (IAB)
Guangzhou will focus on IAB industries and choose several subsectors in the industries that suit the city's development. In each subsector, it will support a leading company, set up a R&D platform, launch a venture capital fund and build an industrial park. With focus laid on key technologies in future industries, the city will facilitate the R&D of fusion technologies, revolutionary technologies, next-generation technologies and related products. With advantages in biomedicine represented by the Guangzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone, the city hopes to bring in well-capitalized biomedicine companies with big potential in innovations. The aim is to develop a 100-billion-yuan worth biomedicine industry.    
5. Focusing on open innovation to build Guangzhou into an international science and technology innovation hub 
The city has made huge efforts holding successful high-end conferences and events, such as the China Innovation and Technology Fair, the Cross-Straits Fair for Economy and Trade, Canton Tower Science & Technology Conference, and also Fortune Global Forum to be held later this year. It will expand cooperation with top universities and research institutes overseas, build platforms for technological transfer, and push for the R&D of key technologies as well as their adoption by industries. Guangzhou will be part of the global innovation network, drawing up plans for joined efforts of technological innovation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The city's offices in the Silicon Valley, Boston and Tel Aviv will help Guangzhou's venture capital funds to find cutting-edge technological projects to invest in and bring to Guangzhou.
6. Continuously building an innovation-friendly environment to encourage startups 
Guangzhou will continue to implement the plan to double its spending on science and technology development. The city will spend more than 10.8 billion yuan on R&D in 2017, and urge companies to invest more than 59 billion yuan in R&D in total. It will cut red tapes to simplify the evaluation process of subsidized technological projects and let grassroots government branches to have a bigger say in the projects. It aims to build a capital-guided startup incubation system centered on incubators and maker spaces following standard international practices. It encourages diversified maker spaces, with the plan of building 150 of them by 2018, of which 10 will have national influence.  
(Editor: Lei)