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Architect at home in Zhangjiagang

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2016-01-07

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Architect at home in Zhangjiagang

Li Jian, who chose Zhangjiagang as the location for his company because of the strong government support. [Photo/China Daily]

Li Jian has many titles. He is guest professor of Nanjing Forestry University, vice-chairman of Zhangjiagang's Overseas Talents Association and general manager of Zhangjiagang Yinghua Material Tech. But the occupation that he has been most proud of was his job as the former Asia R&D director of Simpson Strong-Tie, a US construction material and service supplier, where he worked from 2005 to 2015.

"My name is inscribed on a beam in the Forbidden City because I led the restoration project in what is one of the world's most famous places of historical interest," said Li. "I obtained knowledge of the building rehabilitation industry and how big this market is in China."

Li obtained his bachelor's degree in timber science and technology from Nanjing Forestry University in Nanjing in 1999, a master's degree in composite biomaterials from the university in 2001, master's degrees in civil engineering and timber science and technology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2003, a doctorate in timber science and technology from UC Berkeley in 2007, and an executive master of business administration from Tsinghua University in 2015.

"I just find studying and the research very playful," Li said of his academic life.

He currently operates Yinghua Material Tech. His bright 150-square-meter office, decorated with materials his company produces, is in Zhangjiagang's high-tech zone, which is specifically prepared to host R&D enterprises. The city government offers him a large assistance fund and a 2,000-sq-m workshop in the suburbs.

His company creates devices that clean indoor air, makes environmentally safe building materials, restores industrial infrastructure constructions and renovates old buildings.

"I considered setting up my business in Ningbo in Zhejiang province or in my hometown Nanjing in Jiangsu province. But I chose Zhangjiagang because of the government's strong support and low costs," Li said. "The city is small, clean, quiet, safe and convenient, and I really like living here now." Li moved his family from Nanjing to Zhangjiagang this year.

Li estimates China has 750,000 bridges and 30,000 ports that need to be restored and that the market value will be in the tens of billions of yuan.

"I hope Zhangjiagang can be a good starting point for my career."

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