Pudong in China envisions groundbreaking technological innovation

View of Pudong Photo: cnsphoto

When Lu Xiaowei began his career in Zhangjiang, a 17 square kilometer farmland in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area in 1993, there was little more than a deserted reed swamp, with no roads and little traffic.

Her decision, at the time, was a bold one, and she still vividly remembers how she, along with other “pioneers”, started from scratch at the beginning, endured hardships, and meticulously overcame the lack of all. tools needed to start a business.

But what is more innovative in the 1990s is the decision of the top Chinese leaders. In 1990, China announced the development and opening of Pudong in Shanghai, aiming to make the region a symbol of China’s connection to the world and a vanguard of the take-off of China’s socialist market economy. .

Zhangjiang is China’s first high-tech industrial park. Over the past three decades, the region – a glowing demonstration of Pudong’s drastic transformation – has become a landmark of China’s technological innovation. It is now home to more than 200 semiconductor companies with an industrial scale of over 10 million yuan ($ 1.55 million), a “pharmaceutical valley” that produces one-third of Chinese new drugs, and an “island” for it. artificial intelligence (AI) which is valued. more than 27 billion yuan. More than 15% of companies born in Zhangjiang are said to have been listed on the Shanghai STAR market.

“We have a theme song for Zhangjiang Industrial Park. The lyrics say everyone has a dream, and if we cultivate the seeds of the dream, we can see our dreams come true someday,” Lu, now general manager of Zhangjiang Group’s asset operating division, told the Global Times.

30 years later, Zhangjiang and Pudong are on track to make those dreams come true. As companies and innovators now dream bigger, Pudong, in the years to come, will boldly shoulder the heaviest burden, “crack the hardest bone”, striving to become a pioneer of reform and openness to a higher level, and a pioneer zone for socialist modernization, according to a directive issued by China’s central government last month.

One of the tasks Pudong will undertake is to become a “national team” and spearhead major advances in basic technologies, which observers say is of crucial importance as China steps up its efforts. to develop autonomous technologies in the midst of a group led by the United States. technological repression.

Will Pudong be able to take on such a task? The answers can be seen everywhere as you visit Pudong, from skyscrapers lighting up the Shanghai night sky to thousands of low-key tech entrepreneurs making technological breakthroughs in what they call a mind of “keeping your feet on the ground and looking ahead.” the top to the stars ”, and to the local elected officials who draw the master plan for the future development of the region.

“Pudong is called to play a pioneering role in China’s technological map, and our biggest difference from other technology centers is the emphasis on technological innovation capability. We are not product driven. We are building infrastructure, scientific facilities and investing heavily in basic research. , that we aim to improve our ability to innovate – the key to international technology competition, ”Peng Song, an official at Pudong, told the Global Times.

Chip industry

Among the various high-tech industries that Pudong is building, the integrated circuit is one of the focal points.

At the highest level, the central government also places a lot of hope in Pudong to make inroads into the integrated circuit industry.

Under the aforementioned guidelines, officials pointed out that China will speed up the construction of national science centers in the Zhangjiang area of ​​Pudong, with a focus on integrated circuits, life sciences, intelligence technologies. artificial and connected industries.

Pudong’s direction to push its integrated circuit industries to the next level came from the fact that the region already formed a powerful and complete integrated circuit industrial chain over the years.

Home to domestic and foreign integrated circuit giants such as Qualcomm, Cambricon and NVIDIA, Shanghai saw industrial integrated circuit sales reach 207.13 billion yuan in 2020, up 21.4% year-on-year. other. Zhangjiang accounted for more than half of sales, its total sales of integrated circuits reached 128.54 billion yuan last year, up 22.9% year on year.

The foundations have been laid, where is the next step for Pudong?

Zhou Zhengyu, deputy director of the Shanghai Pudong Scientific and Economic Committee, highlighted several missions that Pudong will undertake soon to build an industrial cluster of integrated circuits. According to Zhou, the government will encourage key companies to target the world’s most advanced techniques and technologies, pushing them to catch up with or even surpass them.

Pudong will also promote the manufacturing capacity of mature integrated circuit processes to ensure the stability of supply chains.

“On the government side, we will take steps to improve the business environment and ecosystem to facilitate technological breakthroughs for businesses, but we will leave it to businesses to do the actual research work in partnership with the institutes. research and other platforms, ”he said. the Global Times.

He also pointed out that the government will invest in basic research facilities, such as building a national laboratory in Zhangjiang which will encompass technological research on integrated circuits. The government will also come up with policies that favor integrated circuit talent coming to Pudong to work, such as grants, talent apartments, and preferential taxation.

According to Zhou, Pudong’s integrated circuit industry is on the verge of entering a “golden age”, with the capital support of the Council of Scientific and Technological Innovation, the opportunities generated during the epidemic of coronavirus and the efforts of domestic companies.

“As companies recognize this is a good opportunity to develop the industry, and with the right policies and business environment, I believe good opportunities will be generated through hard work,” said he declared.

Internalization

In 1994, the Swiss multinational healthcare company Roche Holding established its Chinese headquarters in Pudong, Shanghai, making it the region’s leading foreign pharmaceutical company. Today, the region has over 1,000 companies involved in the upstream and downstream biomedicine and health industries.

Shen Hong, head of Roche’s Shanghai Innovation Center, told the Global Times that central government guidelines will make Pudong more open and attractive to international talent, thereby improving the region’s biotech capacity.

“Pudong will not only serve the domestic market, it will also become an international pharmaceutical valley serving patients around the world,” Shen said.

For local AI companies, internalization is also one of the biggest advantages of Pudong, which allows them to export products to the large global market.

In 2015, Gu Jie, president of Shanghai Fourier Intelligence, quit his job at a foreign company and created the rehabilitation robotics start-up in Zhangjiang.

“Many young people made similar decisions back then, which goes hand in hand with Pudong’s 30-year development footprint: first attracting international companies to form a world-class industrial cluster, then giving birth to local high-tech companies with visions capable of competing with foreign rivals, ”Ge told Global Times

“Pudong’s vibrant atmosphere prompts us to create globally competitive technology, and based on the Yangtze River Delta’s complete manufacturing chain, we are able to quickly translate our research and development into products.” , noted Ge.

Fourier now sells its rehabilitation robots in more than 20 countries and regions, and according to Ge, the company’s sales have surpassed most foreign rehabilitation robotics companies.

“China’s past tendency to focus only on domestic markets has ended, and as the door opens, more Chinese tech companies will gain a foothold in international markets,” Ge added.

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