Shanghai creative industry flourishes after Expo

Updated: 2011-09-27 10:29

By Cai Jing (China Daily)

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Shanghai creative industry flourishes after Expo

A promotion for the iPad in an Apple store attracts many customers. The popularity of the iPad and other Apple products has awakened Chinese manufacturers' passion for creativity. [Photo/China Daily]

SHANGHAI - Every time he talks to a client, Yang Jieming, a product designer with his own company, hears the same thing: "I want something as chic as an iPad." Of course, they do, he adds. The popularity of the iPad and other Apple products has awakened Chinese manufacturers' passion for clever ideas and innovative designs.

Their newfound passion has spawned a 500 billion yuan ($78.2 billion) a year business in Shanghai. The burgeoning creative industry in this cosmopolitan city serving the industrial heartland of the Yangtze River Delta region employs 1.08 million people, mostly design professionals, according to the Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau. The industry accounted for nearly 10 percent of Shanghai's GDP in 2010.

The bureau's latest figures, published last week, showed that the creative industry, which contributed 14 percent to economic growth last year, took off in earnest in the months leading to Expo 2010 Shanghai, held from May to end of October last year. It has been growing rapidly since, the bureau noted.

Under the bureau's definition, the creative industry comprises creative service businesses and activities related to culture and innovation. In 2010, the creative service industry achieved a combined added value of 147 billion yuan, up 18.4 percent from a year before. This sector accounted for 88.3 percent of the total added value of Shanghai's creative industry. The industry related to culture and innovation posted a total of 19 billion yuan in added value, down 1.5 percent.

Among the different sectors of the Shanghai creative industry, advertising and exhibition services achieved the highest annual growth in 2010, 71.4 percent, in added value. "Shanghai has the best environment for advertising agencies, especially foreign-funded ones," said Deng Bin, chief creative director in DDB, a world famous advertising agency.

Deng and other advertising experts in Shanghai said that high growth is expected in coming years as more and more Chinese manufacturers are turning to the domestic sales to pick up the expected slack in exports because of the economic troubles in many overseas markets, including the United States and Europe. Ad companies expect the shift of their client base to domestic enterprises will speed up in coming months, Deng said.

Industrial design is the second-fastest growing sector with an annual growth rate of 25.2 percent of added value in 2010, followed by network and information industry and architecture design. "Since the outbreak of the global economic crisis in 2008, an increasing number of domestic manufacturers have asked us to improve the design and function of their product," said Wang Yang, a product designer in Shanghai. "The demand for our service has increasingly grown since the beginning of this year," he added.

The Shanghai 2010 Expo played an important role in boosting the creative industry, experts said. The added value of exhibition services alone nearly tripled in 2010 compared with 2009, reaching 7.2 billion yuan, mostly as a result of the Expo. Advertising, the network and information industry, fashion design, industry design and software design all benefited from the expo.

Qiu Yue contributed to this story