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UK, China push forward 'smart city' technologies

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-08-15 17:18

New center in Shanghai set to act as incubator for clean-energy startups

Chinese energy company Shenergy and partners in the United Kingdom have announced plans to build a new center in Shanghai dedicated to clean energy and"smart city" technology.

The Shanghai International Energy Innovation Center, which will also be known as SIEIC, is scheduled to open in mid-2018. Shenergy will partner on the project with Chinese fintech company BBD UK and Cambridge Technology Capital Partners(CTCP), a firm that specializes in UK and China cross-border transactions.

Alan Barrell, CTCP's chairman, said the center will provide financial, technical, and networking resources, and act as an incubator for startups involved in clean energy and smart-city technology.

"The internet of things and smart cities are big issues for China, as are clean cities and waste management," Barrell said. "In my view, China is on the fast track to becoming the leading innovation nation."

Smart cities are urban areas where technology and big data are used to improve urban planning. They were a focus of the government's 12th and 13th five-year plans. So far, 290 cities across the country are subject to technological upgrades. Among the most advanced is Yinchuan, a city of 2 million in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

Visitors to Yinchuan city hall are greeted by holograms, and local buses use facial recognition technology to identify and take fares from passengers, streamlining the boarding process. Other technology includes solar-powered public trashcans that compact garbage and alert disposal companies when full.

Barrell said the SIEIC will support companies that use technology to improve almost any aspect of urban living through low-carbon solutions.

"Controlling street lighting and traffic, controlling the water system, management of manhole covers and waste, all of these areas will be discussed," he said.

The center will also provide support for companies involved in wind, hydro and solar power. In 2015, China invested $102.9 billion in renewable power and fuels, which was more than a third of the global total of $265.8 billion.

The center will be supported by BBD UK, one of the first Chinese fintech companies to set up in Britain. It has a front office in London and a research and development center in Cambridge. BBD opened a startup accelerator in London in June, with the aim of helping British and Chinese fintech companies access each other's markets.

Barrell said Shenergy and CTCP intend to create a joint fund in the UK and China for investment in startups, and to help businesses from China establish themselves in the UK, and vice-versa.

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