TEDA drawing tech firms with diverse services

Updated : 2014-02-18 By : Li FushengSource : China Daily

In 2013, the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area ranked first citywide in terms of total companies that were granted the status of "little tech giants", and it also had the most newly added such enterprises.

Little tech giants are promising companies that have core competitiveness based on proprietary intellectual property and well-known products.

Eighty companies in the zone, known as TEDA, were awarded the title last year, increasing the total number to 280, said Xu Hongxing, chairman of the TEDA Administrative Commission in a report delivered at its annual meeting on Jan 13.

TEDA is becoming a magnet for tech companies mainly because of the diverse services it offers to fuel their growth, said Li Hongliang, deputy general manager of the Tianjin TEDA Science and Technology Development Group.

"We offer different services to companies at different staages of their development, especially in terms of financing, business operation and expanding room for business growth," said Li.

The TEDA administrative commission established the group in November 2010 to boost the development of small and medium-sized tech companies. Statistics show that the area now houses more than 3,662 such businesses.

With the group's help, many tech businesses are scaling up their investment in the area. In the past year, 62 key companies increased their capital by more than 5.3 billion yuan ($870 million) and their average operating revenue grew by 60 percent from 2012.


 TEDA drawing tech firms with diverse services

A company technician uses the facilities provided by the TEDA administration to conduct research. Jiao Yongpu / for China Daily

In 2013 alone, 850 new small and medium-sized companies were founded in the area.

For startup businesses, TEDA provides office facilities, helps with administrative procedures, and has introduced various tech funds to offer financing.

Among the startup founders is Xiang Nan. Like many other young entrepreneurs in TEDA, Xiang's office is in the Tianjin-Beijing Link Coffee Center, known as JJ Link, a 1,400-square-meter caf run by Li's group.

"Here we focus on nothing but our business now that the computers, desks and chairs, cabinets, meeting rooms and even water machines are provided free of charge," said Xiang.

Xiang and his colleagues are working on a mobile phone app that will hit the market in 2014. It will alert the users by sending a message through Tencent's popular WeChat platform when food goes bad in their refrigerators.

Xiang said he had originally wanted to start a company in Beijing. Because of high costs in the capital city and the short distance between these two cities, he finally decided on TEDA and registered the business immediately after the JJ Link was opened in October. In addition to free offices, the JJ Link provides other services, including business registration and patent application.

Growth companies

For fast-growing small companies, TEDA is offering training on business operation and more importantly financial support, Li said.

As it is hard for small tech companies to obtain loans, Li's group is earmarking funds as mortgages to banks so that such companies can have higher credit.

The move is designed to help companies that have a sales revenue ranging from 5 million yuan (about $824,500) to 30 million yuan to seize a larger market share.

One of the campaign's beneficiaries is an engineering company named Zhonghuan.

It has recently received a 5 million yuan loan by paying a security deposit of 500,000 yuan, "greatly cutting financing costs," said its general manager Li Hong. Statistics from TEDA show that it has recommended 35 companies to banks and 20 of them have received loans totaling 42.8 million yuan by the end of 2013.

Well-established firms

TEDA is also helping well-established companies further expand their business through such services as helping build plants, organizing high-level training sessions for top management and helping attract venture capital, said Li Hongliang.

Li's group organized more than 10 training sessions on getting listed in 2013. The engineering company Zhonghuan has gone public, and another local company, which specializes in new materials, has submitted its application to the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

Sun Jianhua, CEO of SINO Medical Sciences Technology Inc, said, "As we grow, TEDA has given much help in terms of recruitment, including offering them hukou (household registration) and schooling opportunities to their kids."

Established in TEDA in 2007, it now has more than 200 employees.

 TEDA drawing tech firms with diverse services

Startup teams discuss business plans at the Tianjin-Beijing Link Coffee Center. Provided to China Daily

Asymchem Laboratories Inc has benefited even more, according to its management.

The company was founded in the development area in 1998 and now employs more than 1,200 workers."In addition to financial support, TEDA helps in many other aspects ranging from plant planning and land supply as our business continues to grow," said Xu Xiangke, a senior manager of the company. Now that TEDA is becoming home to more and more companies, it is building and improving infrastructure to cater to the demands of the ever-growing number of employees.

Now it provides more than 20 apartments that house nearly 150,000 workers in TEDA.

Technical platforms

The TEDA administrative commission is setting up public technology platforms for key industries as part of its campaign to enhance small and medium-sized companies' research and development abilities.

One of them is designed for integrated circuit developers.

Companies can share more than 100 pieces of equipment at the platform to design analog, digital as well as analog-digital circuits.

Another example is Tianjin International Joint Academy of Biomedicine. Put in use in 2009, it is equipped with internationally advanced equipment and works in collaboration with local hospitals, thus offering drug producers one-stop services, ranging from drug development and analysis to clinical tests.

And industrial alliances are emerging at TEDA due to a mature industrial environment.

"Industrial alliances are an effective way to promote the development of small and medium-sized companies," said Wei Kai, a senior engineer at a research institute under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

"They can serve as a bridge between government and industry. And allies can share information and work in cooperation to tackle technological problems and expand the market," said Wei.

The Binhai New Area Cloud Computing Park is organizing members to attend industrial forums and helps them explore the market. Some of its well-known members are National Supercomputing Center, HP and Tencent.

Alliances in other sectors including creative industries, food and medicine are also helping member companies seek partnerships and share resources.

In the meantime, the Tianjin TEDA Science and Technology Development Group is exploring a new way to manage investments in the platforms.

It introduced a piece of equipment priced at 5 million yuan recently for the integrated circuit design platform.

Instead of paying the total sum all at once, the company decided on financial leasing.

Tianjin TEDA Financial Leasing Co Ltd bought the equipment and leased it to the platform while the development group paid the rent in installments over two years.

This helps enhance the efficiency of fund use and the company can use the limited capital to build more platforms, said local officials.

The group vows to further strengthen its efforts to build public technology platforms through financial leasing in a bid to offer more professional services.


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