Monday, August 8, 2022

China's Greater Bay Area emerging as a global innovation hub

China Spallation Neutron Source, a piece of scientific apparatus built at the Songshan Lake Science City, Dongguan, south China’s Guangdong province.

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Jiang Xiaodan

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, a vibrant city cluster in southern China which comprises Hong Kong, Macao, and nine cities in south China’s Guangdong province, witnesses stories about scientific and technological innovations every day.

Kwok Wai-keung, a young man from Hong Kong who started his own business in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, has given new features to suitcase by leveraging technological elements, enabling it to serve as power bank, automatically weigh the items in it, realize anti-theft tracking, and be located after the luggage is checked in.

Ever since his company settled in the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur Hub in Shenzhen in 2016, it has applied for over 20 invention patents, cooperated with more than 10 well-known luggage brands at home and abroad, and completed multiple rounds of financing.

“Because of the favorable policies in Shenzhen, full-blown industrial chain of Guangdong as well as the industrial complementarity between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, research and development results in Hong Kong can be rapidly commercialized in Shenzhen, which is why our company has enjoyed fast development,” the entrepreneur pointed out.

“Scientific research projects of many Hong Kong universities choose Guangdong for production and industrialization. This has been a recent trend in Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao technological cooperation,” said Gordon Lam Chi-wing, chairman of Hong Kong Technology Association.

The scientific research advantages and achievements of Hong Kong and Macao, combined with the strong manufacturing capacity of Guangdong, have played an important role in leading technological advances, he added.

According to the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, a highly influential international center of science and innovation is being built at a faster pace in the area.

As the construction of infrastructure progresses, the building of a batch of start-up areas of a comprehensive national science center in the Greater Bay Area is picking up speed, including the Guangming Science City in Shenzhen and Songshan Lake Science City in Dongguan, Guangdong.

While the China Spallation Neutron Source (CSNS), a piece of scientific apparatus built at the Songshan Lake Science City, is in stable operation; and the phase-project of China Environment for Network Innovations (Shenzhen), a national key scientific and technological infrastructure project, has been completed and put into operation.

During China’s 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), the Greater Bay Area plans to push ahead with the construction of the phase- project of CSNS, Pengcheng Cloud Brain, a key technology facility in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), advanced attosecond laser facility, cold seep ecosystem research facility and human cell lineage facility to further lay the material foundations for original innovations.

“Some apparatus built in the nine cities of Guangdong involved in the construction of the Greater Bay Area is open to Hong Kong, Macao, and the rest of the world,” said Liang Qinru, deputy head of the Department of Science and Technology of Guangdong Province. Liang believes that the increasingly fast flow of innovation factors among Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao will greatly enhance the Greater Bay Area’s technological innovation capabilities.

Liang noted that the three spectrometers of the CSNS have completed nearly 500 projects for users, of whom over 10 percent come from Hong Kong and Macao; and the designated line of the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou for Hong Kong and Macao has served over 200 users from the two regions.

Cross-regional comprehensive technological innovation platforms covering various fields and industries have been built in the Greater Bay Area, effectively facilitating technological innovation and speeding up cooperation on the transfer and commercialization of scientific and research findings.

The Guangzhou national lab has been inaugurated; the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Health and the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics under the Hong Kong Institute of Science and Innovation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, were put into trial operation; the Greater Bay Area Association of Academicians was established in Hong Kong; and the Greater Bay Area national center for technology innovation was established.

As of the end of 2021, the South China Technology Commercialization Center in the Greater Bay Area had gathered more than 60,000 items of excellent innovation resources from Hong Kong, Macao, and the Chinese mainland, attracted more than 750 high-quality science and technology service institutions and over 3,000 science and technology enterprises across the country, launched over 3,600 products related to science and technology services, and facilitated transactions worth 868 million yuan ($130 million).

As various factors gather in the Greater Bay Area, a modern industrial system is taking shape quickly.

Focusing on advantageous fields such as new-generation information and communications technologies, advanced battery materials, high-end medical equipment, intelligent equipment, intelligent mobile terminals, and ultra-high definition videos, the Greater Bay Area has cultivated a number of competitive advanced manufacturing clusters. The construction of the phase- Ethylene project of ExxonMobil, an American multinational oil and gas corporation, in Huizhou, Guangdong, was comprehensively initiated.

Statistics showed that more than 300 million yuan of fiscal funds for scientific research projects have been allocated by Guangdong province to projects in Hong Kong and Macao, benefiting over 10 universities and research institutes in the two regions.

Last year, the number of national high-tech enterprises in the nine cities of Guangdong involved in the Greater Bay Area construction exceeded 57,000; and a total of 780,000 patents were granted in these cities, among which nearly 100,000 were for inventions.

The innovation cluster of Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou has ranked second in the world in terms of the global innovation index for two consecutive years, higher than Beijing and Shanghai, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The construction of an international center of science and innovation has played a major role in improving the Greater Bay Area’s innovation capabilities.

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