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Science city transforms into global innovation hub

Updated :2020-03-31


A bird's-eye view of AIsland, located in Zhangjiang Science City in Pudong New Area, Shanghai [Photo by Shen Chunchen/For China Daily]


Zhangjiang Science City, Shanghai’s sci-tech center, is helping the city to boost its innovation over the next 10 years. 

Efficiency is the guarantee 

There is no end in sight for the science city’s development, with new contracts being signed and R&D projects breaking ground throughout the year. 

On December 24, 2019, construction began on the Gate to Science, a landmark project consisting of two 320-meter-high buildings. 

The project, with 14.2 billion yuan ($2.06 billion) in investment, will consist of 52 sub-projects, including research institutes, enterprise headquarters, innovation centers, talent apartments, hotels, and business complexes. 

There is a popular saying in Zhangjiang Science City: Keep moving and decide your strategy early on. 

“We can’t build a global sci-tech innovation center off of enthusiasm alone. It is like a relay race, and all participants must go full speed ahead on this track,” said Yuan Tao, chairman of Zhangjiang Group, the science city’s main constructor. 

On November 30, 2019, the Ezisurg Medical Science Innovation Park broke ground in an area of about 32,000 square meters. From signing land contracts to acquiring the construction permit, it took less than 24 hours for the related departments to complete all of the administrative procedures. 

On December 18, 2019, global life science provider ChemPartner opened a medicine innovation center in Zhangjiang Science Park. 

“Efficiency is the key to innovation,” according to Hui Michael Xin, founder of ChemPartner, “Can you believe it took us only 136 days to establish a building from nothing that houses over 700 employees and serves over 1,000 partner companies across the globe?” 

He said the innovation center as well as regional headquarters is expected to generate about 700 million yuan in business revenue in 2020. 

In May, 2019, the 66,000-sq-meter AIsland began operations. In less than a year, it has become home to many famous companies, including IBM, Alibaba, and Microsoft. 

The Microsoft AI & IoT Insider Lab has so far helped more than 30 corporate clients turn their prototypes into products. The lab is designed to deepen the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT by providing companies with hardware and software assistance as well as cloud and AI solutions. The largest project was pulled off in four months while in some cases the process took less than a week. 

Cooperating with the best 

Integrated circuits (IC), AI, and biological medicine are not only the three key industries in Zhangjiang Science City, but Shanghai as a whole. 

The science city boasts an IC industrial cluster with the most complete industrial chain and the highest technical level in mainland China. 

With Zhangjiang Pharma Valley and Zhangjiang Medical Valley, the science city brings together the most comprehensive resources of China’s pharmaceutical research and development (R&D), and the most outstanding R&D achievements in new medicines. AIsland, a dedicated hub for AI innovation and application, harbors the most state-of-the-art AI technologies in the country. 

Enjoying the above advantages, Zhangjiang Science City stands at the forefront of technological revolution in the country. Li Qiang, Party secretary of Shanghai, said that Pudong should play an active role in the city’s reform and development. 

The immense science and technology capabilities offer a platform for R&D institutions, colleges and universities, scientific research institutions, and enterprises in the science city to interact with the best in the world, creating a positive impact on innovative development in the city. 

Geng Meiyu, chief researcher on the drug to treat Alzheimer's disease and a researcher with the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, was included in the top five personalities that most influenced science in 2020 on Nature magazine. 

Zejula (Niraparib), an ovarian cancer drug developed by Zai Lab in partnership with Tesaro Inc, was approved by China's National Medical Products Administration in late December 2019, and went on sale in the domestic market. 

Zai Lab, a Zhangjiang-based biopharmaceutical company, focuses on transformative medicines for cancer, autoimmune and infectious diseases, and is favored in global capital markets. 

According to local authorities, the 95-sq-kilometer science city aims to grow into a world-class innovation hub offering enterprises assistance in the fields of finance, medical treatment, security, traveling, and manufacturing, making it possible for new technologies and industries in Zhangjiang to achieve rapid development. 

“We hope to duplicate the miraculous success of Pudong New Area within seven years. The district’s total economic output is expected to exceed 2 trillion yuan in 2026, and Pudong will lead the country in reform and opening-up, quality development and living environment,” according to a new blueprint rolled out by the municipal government of Shanghai in June 2019. 

Work hard, speed up 

In 2019, Shanghai played an important role in a series of national strategies. In 2020, the city will work on the construction of a number of projects, especially those in Zhangjiang Science City. 

The science city is home to the world’s largest collection of large-scale scientific devices, which is still growing quickly. 

The second batch of high-performance stations in the science city funded by Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility (SSRF) will be put into use soon. Technological breakthroughs were made in many areas, including the core components of hard X-ray devices. The super-intense ultra-short laser device is currently undergoing testing. 

Hou Jin, a full-time deputy director of the construction office at Shanghai’s scientific and technological innovation promotion center, said the city will open more doors for the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) region in an effort to boost regional cooperation. 

The Shanghai Integrated Circuit Design Industrial Park, which is located in the center of the science city and covers an area of 3 square kilometers, has been attracting more and more skilled integrated circuit designers. In 2020, Pudong New Area will accelerate the construction of the industrial park and help increase the park’s scale to 150 billion yuan. 

In 2019, Pudong started to build an innovative pharmaceutical industrial base, an international medical center, a cell industrial park and a medical equipment industrial base in Zhangjiang Science City, covering a total area of nearly 10 sq km in an effort to transform the new area itself from a cost center into a profit center. 

On Dec 28, the innovative pharmaceutical industrial base welcomed its first cell immunotherapy factory established by Fosun Kite Biotechnology Co, a joint venture between Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co and US Kite Pharma, Fosun Kite Biotechnology Co – a global leader in cell immunotherapy. 

Zhangjiang Science City has built itself into a platform for high-end talents from all over the world. 

In the morning, crowds pour out of subway exits near the science city and flow into office buildings and laboratories. Late at night, there are still entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers working in 24-hour coffee shops and convenience stores. 

In 2020, Zhangjiang Science City, the sci-tech center that boasts advanced infrastructures, high-performance scientific devices and high-end talents, will continue to promote joint innovation and the integrated application of science and technology, incubating China-developed projects at which the world will marvel.