China's 'Smart City' being created in Hefei

Updated: 2013-06-13 07:35

By Ge Man and Ma Chenguang in Hefei (China Daily)

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China's 'Smart City' being created in Hefei

China's 'Smart City' being created in Hefei

Hefei State Hi-tech Industry Development Zone now contains more than 4,000 enterprises, 400 of them being funded from overseas. Those companies reported total industrial output worth 28.7 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) last year. He Gaoxin / For China Daily

High-tech zone hopes to attract more multinational investors

Hefei State Hi-tech Industry Development Zone, one of the nation's first group of such zones, has designed a "Smart City" aimed at creating a Silicon Valley-type high-tech cluster in eastern China, between the Yangtze and Huaihe rivers.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Li Bing, who heads the zone - which was launched in 1991 and which now ranks 12th among China's 109 State high-tech zones - said the plans aim to strengthen its three main core sectors of electronics, information and software, and advanced manufacturing and new materials.

The Smart City is being co-developed with China's top science and technology bodies, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Science and Technology of China, and is attempting to attract 10,000 high-tech firms by 2020, Li said. The zone also aims to lure 50 multinationals to set up R&D centers, and 20 technology research institutes.

Currently, more than 4,000 enterprises are located in the high-tech zone, around 400 of them being funded from overseas, Li said.

Those companies reported total industrial output worth 28.7 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) last year, or 36.3 percent of the zone's total.

Li said the Smart City should be completed by 2030.

The zone, located in the western suburbs of Hefei, has separate areas dedicated to certain functions, including one for incubator companies.

The entire high-tech park now covers 128 sq km and has a 200,000-strong workforce.

Firms engaged in micro-electronics, new energy, advanced materials, quantum information, medical treatment and public health are the most welcome tenants, Li said, noting that officials are now hoping to attract high-tech investors from Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and those from further afield such as Silicon Valley in the United States, Japan and South Korea.

"Overseas-funded enterprises have brought us not only advanced technology but also managerial experience," said Li.

"They have driven innovation, research and development activities in the region, and with their involvement, Hefei Hi-tech Zone has optimized its industrial structure and raised its global competitiveness.

"Favorable conditions such as convenient transportation, a beautiful environment, abundant human resources, efficient government and a preferential tax policy are all fully available to investors."

The roll call of well-known multinational tenants and investors include Maytag, Philco, Sanyo, Toyota, Mitsubishi, ABB and Hyundai.

By the end of 2012, of the zone's employees, more than 1,800 were PhDs, 11,190 had master's degrees, nine of China's most famous academicians worked there, and there were 48 foreign experts based in the zone.

In 1997, at the national conference for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation high-tech industrial parks, Hefei Hi-tech Zone was admitted as one of China's five industrial parks open to APEC.

Becoming a part of APEC has meant the zone has opened further to the outside world, allowing it to attract more international businesses, Li said.

As one of China's four science bases, Hefei enjoys strong scientific research activity and is home to some famous research centers and many locally based higher learning institutions such as USTC, Hefei University of Technology and Anhui University.

The zone includes a software park, a university high-tech park, a biomedical park, an automotive park and an incubator, and since 2000 it has also been a National High Tech Export Base.

Gree, one of the country's leading domestic air-conditioner producers, has established a production base in the zone. Midea, another leading home appliance producer, has a refrigerator and washing machine base there.

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(China Daily 06/13/2013 page17)