A Chinese City Goes After Silicon Valley

Apr 03, 2014, 08:58 ET from Chengdu High-tech Industrial Development Zone

CHENGDU, China, April 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Silicon Valley is a global icon. Its innovation capability catalyzes the world surprisingly. Under the universal forces of innovation economy today, the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley, which represents the American Dream, has been also inspiring the China Dream. Now, an ambitious hi-tech zone in western China is striving to establish its own "Silicon Valley," not only in IT but also in all its leading hi-tech industries.

"20 years ago, when China just raised the Torch Program and set up the first national hi-tech zones, learning from Silicon Valley seemed like an illusion. But now, we attempt to make innovation an catalyst for better development, just as Silicon Valley does," said an official from Chengdu Industrial Hi-Tech Development Zone (CDHT) at a press conference last week. In two days, CDHT had witnessed two important occasions: publishing the "Third Trend of Entrepreneurship" Industrial Development Plan of CDHT (2013-2020) (The Plan) and honoring "Enterprise and Talent of the Year."

The Plan points out the basic paths relating to model, subject, platform, and mechanism of the development, in which "innovation" is the key word. Speeding up the industrial upgrading of strategic emerging industries by encouraging innovation is practically written on paper. At the enterprise commendation meeting, 33 people were granted the 2013 Talent of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with a sum of 26.5 million RMB ($4.26 million) reward. "We want to give a strong signal to the world, demonstrating our determination of reform by supporting innovation," said the official.

It is no longer an illusion of imitating Silicon Valley. The foundation of the industry confirms the ambition of CDHT. The zone's industrial added value in 2013 reached 103.97 billion RMB ($16.74 billion), while the added value of strategic emerging industries grew by 18.6 percent to 52 billion RMB ($ 8.37 billion). More than 120 Fortune Global 500 and other internationally well-known companies have chosen the 130 square kilometer region, including big names like Intel, Foxconn, Dell, and Huawei. During the past year, 96 industrial programs in CDHT have begun operation, including Dell Chengdu Operations Site, Siemens Electronics Works Chengdu, and Philips LED Lighting Campus; 68 provincial and municipal programs, including Changhong and Hitachi have realized a total amount of 19.6 billion RMB ($3.16 billion) investment; 46 newly introduced programs reached a total sum of 46.9 billion RMB ($7.5 billion) of investment; The operations of TI's fully integrated wafer fabrication and assembly/test facility could total up to $1.69 billion over the next 15 years, further demonstrating TI's long-term investment strategy in this important region. According to a new ranking of national hi-tech zones released by Ministry of Science of China in late November 2013, CDHT remains the fourth, while on the lists of "Ability of Knowledge Creation and Technological Innovation" and "Ability of Industrial Upgrading and Structural Optimization," CDHT ranks the third and the sixth.

"Chengdu is not only the ancestral homeland to giant pandas, but also a modern technologic innovation hub in western China," said the official of CDHT, "China's westward movement of industries is ongoing." Noticeably, during the day before, U.S. first lady Michelle Obama chose Chengdu as the last stop of her China tour, giving a speech at a high school and visiting the Giant Panda Research Base. While remaining a magnet for domestic and foreign investment, western China demonstrates its growing importance as China's economic hinterland. Chengdu is an epitome of this, with the wealth of talent and human resources, reasonable labor and living cost, and profound culture and hi-tech foundation that makes the city surprisingly inviting for global investors -- not to mention the driving force of the "Go West" Policy. With a very central geographical location, the city possesses well-developed logistics for unlocking the greater western China market.

"More importantly, we are not satisfied with only importing new technologies. Innovation ability can better equip our enterprises which help them break into the competitive global market," said the official. It is reported that by the end of 2013, there are more than 50,000 companies in the zone. In 2013, there are 5,438 new domestic enterprises and 114 foreign investment enterprises with a total registered capital of more than 65 billion RMB ($10.4 billion). In the first quarter of 2014, 1,624 new enterprises registered by a growth of 49.95 percent, including 675 science and technology companies. Indeed, under the background of sluggish global growth, new opportunities are surfacing. It's worth taking the long view.

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SOURCE Chengdu High-tech Industrial Development Zone