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Shanghai eyes future as science hub

By Zhou Wenting | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-22 07:52
A panoramic sunrise view of the Bund along the Huangpu River in Puxi and the Lujiazui Financial District in Shanghai's Pudong New Area, Aug 20, 2018. [Photo/IC]

Shanghai will continue its strategic and policy support to transform the eastern city into a hub for science and technology innovation with a focus on integrated circuits, artificial intelligence and biomedicine along with other cutting-edge sectors, the municipal government said during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

"Shanghai will seek further breakthroughs in the three key sectors by enhancing innovation from the source and commercialization of research results amid the city's progress in achieving its ambitious goal of becoming a global hub for science and technology," said Wu Qing, vice-mayor of Shanghai.

By 2020, Shanghai will establish the basic frameworks for the hub, Wu added.

Local authorities will strengthen resource integration, gather talent and build a world-class industrial cluster as part of efforts to meet the goal, according to a government statement.

In recent years, Shanghai has been spearheading efforts to develop itself into an innovation-driven metropolis and a major global entrepreneurial hub. In 2016, the city officially announced its ambition to transform itself into a science and technology center.

It identified four major tasks, including establishing a comprehensive national science center and implementing basic projects and strategic programs aimed at boosting the development of integrated circuits, artificial intelligence and biomedicine along with other strategically critical industries.

Official data shows that R&D spending in Shanghai last year accounted for 4 percent of its 3.27 trillion yuan ($474 billion) GDP.

Shanghai was involved in 11 of the 50 major national scientific advances from 2014 to 2018, data from the city government showed.

At the same time, Shanghai has become one of the world's most comprehensive chip clusters, according to Chen Yujun, head of the strategy department of Shanghai Huahong Integrated Circuit Co.

More than 200 chip design companies and a number of world-leading integrated circuit packaging firms have mushroomed in Shanghai's Zhangjiang Science City over the past years, Chen said.

The sales volume of Shanghai's integrated circuit industry reached 145 billion yuan last year, accounting for one-fifth of the country's total, according to the municipal government.

The city also reported several major breakthroughs in the biomedicine sector over the past few years, including development of medicine and high-end medical equipment.

Shanghai has dedicated a zone called AIsland, where 66,000 square meters of working space hosts a slew of AI research firms. The premier batch of 20 companies included global organizations and local startup firms such as Microsoft, Alibaba, CloudWalk Technology and a research facility affiliated to the Tongji University.

"Shanghai needs a very strong first-class higher education system, a professional research team, and a powerful enterprise cluster. These are all important factors," said Shi Erwei, former vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Song Lixin, director of the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics affiliated to CAS, said that Shanghai's scientific innovation should be carried forward together with the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region, saying the municipality needs to avail itself of resources in its surrounding areas to further tap into scientific research strength.

According to a report from the Shanghai Institute for Science of Science, the collaborative innovation capability of the delta region has grown through the density of scientific research cooperation networks, patent transfers within the region and joint applications for invention patents.

Tang Xiaofan contributed to this story.

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