Funding kickstarts creative research
China will invest 5 billion yuan ($810 million) in an industrial park to make products for Beidou, a Chinese navigation satellite system.
The park will be operating in the city of Tianjin by 2015, said industry expert Miao Qianjun.
Output at the 27-hectare Beidou Strategic Emerging Industrial Park is expected to be worth 10 billion yuan by 2017, said Miao, secretary-general of the Global Navigation Satellite System and Location-Based Service Association of China.
He added that 30 to 50 companies will then be operating in the park.
"Many excellent Beidou products, with imaginative functions and design, will emerge,'' he said.
The industrial park, built by the association and Tianjin's Wuqing district government, is expected to welcome its first 20 companies in June.
Miao said the creativity unleashed will greatly benefit the Beidou market.
The association estimates that the industrial chain involving Beidou will create a national market worth 400 billion yuan by the end of 2020, with annual growth of 30 to 50 percent.
One program that experts are studying would help taxi drivers in Beijing use the Beidou Navigation Satellite System to locate nearby passengers.
Anything that helps public transport and taxis will improve the capital's air quality. A study by Tsinghua University's China Automotive Energy
Beidou: Expert hopes center can become Chinese Silicon Valley
Research Center found vehicle emissions contributed 9 percent to Beijing's PM2.5 levels in 2010, which means cutting vehicle emissions will lead to more blue skies.
Watches, using the Beidou system, will be able to achieve incredible accuracy by syncing with Beidou navigational satellites. Beidou can identify a user's location within 10 meters and clock synchronization signals to within 50 nanoseconds.
Brad Parkinson, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University, best known as the father of the GPS, said: "The only limits for the application of a global navigation satellite system are the limits of human imagination".
Miao echoed this view. "The industrial park is just the platform for turning imagination into reality."
The industrial park will have an area especially for foreign companies and institutes to introduce their advanced concepts and technology, Miao added.
"Many foreign companies want to research and develop their Beidou services in China," he said, while hoping the park will become a small Chinese Silicon Valley.
About 10 leading foreign companies are expected to operate in the area initially, according to Miao.
China is the third country, next to the United States and Russia, to design and manufacture its own navigation satellite system. Beidou has 16 satellites providing service for users in the Asia-Pacific and China plans to provide a global service with more than 30 satellites in operation by 2020.
According to the China Satellite Navigation Office, Beidou is targeting 70 to 80 percent of the Chinese market in related location services by 2020.
According to the association, by the end of 2011 there were only 50 to 60 companies involved in Beidou services or research and development across China, while more than 6,800 companies have businesses related to GPS.
It means 95 percent of equipment in China that uses a positioning system, including cell phones, navigators and watches, relies on GPS services.
Since China opened its domestic satellite navigation network to commercial use across the Asia-Pacific region, central and local authorities have released a series of policies to boost the Beidou market, such as requiring its use in major transportation networks.
A dozen industrial parks in Beidou-related sectors are also being, or will be built, across the country.
• Sept 18, 2011
The Ministry of Science and Technology releases its 12th Five-Year (2011-15) Plan on development and location of navigation services.
A 2015 target was set for the navigation industry to reach more than 100 billion yuan ($16 billion) and establish five high-tech industrial bases.
• March, 2012
Work finishes on equipping more than 80 percent of all coaches, tourist buses and vehicles carrying dangerous goods in nine provinces and regions, including Jiangsu and Shandong, with the Beidou satellite navigation system.
• Nov 20, 2012
Beijing releases a three-year plan to promote the Beidou industry, setting a goal of 50 billion yuan in output for Beidou-related sectors in the capital before 2015.
• Dec 25, 2012
Shenzhen releases an application and industrialization plan for Beidou, which allocates 300 million yuan to promote key Beidou-related programs.
The National Development and Reform Commission is drawing up a national development plan for the Beidou satellite navigation system, according to the China Satellite Navigation Office.
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