Business / Economy

China eyes Tianjin as innovation engine

By Lyu Chang and Li Xiang (China Daily) Updated: 2015-02-28 10:23

The central government is stepping up efforts to build Tianjin into the country's new economic growth engine through innovation.

To achieve that goal, Tianjin, a northern port city only an hour's drive from Beijing, set up a national innovation demonstration zone in the Tianjin Binhai Hi-tech Industrial Development Area on Friday.

Cao Jianlin, vice-minister of science and technology, said during the opening ceremony that this is just the first step, but it is one that officials hope will set an example for the reform of the national science and technology system.

"More work needs to be done to explore new methods for innovation in Tianjin and drive the upgrading of traditional industries," he said.

The port city plans to forge several strong industrial chains to move up the ladder of high added-value industries such as information technology, intelligent equipment manufacturing, alternative energy and advanced batteries.

It has set an ambitious goal of generating revenue of 3.5 trillion yuan ($560 billion) by 2020 and 8 trillion yuan by 2025 in the demonstration area.

Yan Yulian, president of ebogame, an online games developer that got its start in the industrial park in 2010, said that the company generated 60 million yuan in sales last year, compared with having no revenue at all a year earlier. It aims to double revenue this year.

"It all grew out of the establishment of such a demonstration area," Yan said. "It is definitely good news, as companies can get tax breaks, financial service support and other technical assistance."

Liu Gang, deputy director of the Nankai Binhai Research Institute at Nankai University in Tianjin, said that the reason for setting up the demonstration area is that the city has an established base in science and technology.

"The city has strength in science and technology with many national scientific and technological institutes and State-level labs, as well as engineering technology research centers," he said.

Tianjin also has rich human resources with about 750,000 technical personnel in natural and social sciences, including 22 academicians from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering, Liu said.

The move to set up the zone comes after President Xi Jinping stressed earlier this month his view that it is essential to accelerate the integration of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region to transfer some of the capital's functions to other regions and further develop the heavily populated region.

Liu said that thanks to the integrated development plan, Tianjin is now at the forefront of policy experiments in science and technology reform, environmental policy and urban renewal.

"It is only a matter of time before Tianjin becomes a new driving force of economic growth in China," he said.

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