Beijing ETown Special / Photos

Science cities among those DRAWN by opportunities to thrive

By YUAN SHENGGAO |  China Daily |  Updated:2022-10-21

From the introduction of unmanned vehicles developed in Zhongguancun Science City to the large-scale use of independently developed flexible display technology, the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area, also known as Beijing E-Town, is growing into a hub for the application of scientific and technological outcomes. 

Tech incubator

Research and development is key to the success of countless companies in Beijing E-Town. The R&D expenditure of prominent large and medium-sized enterprises in the area increased more than 10 times in the past 10 years.

The number of national- and municipal-level R&D institutions based in Beijing E-Town increased from 140 to 364 between 2012-21. They include 25 national-level R&D institutions.

The number of valid invention patents held by companies in the area increased seven times in a decade, growing from 1,508 in 2012 to 11,480 in 2021. As of the end of last year, 675 invention patents were held for every 10,000 people in the area. This was 3.6 times the figure of Beijing city in its entirety.

Beijing E-Town is becoming an incubator for technological breakthroughs. Chipone Technology, a display control solutions provider based there, has broken new ground in key display technologies and grown into a world-leading provider of display control chip solutions.

In Beijing E-Town, a center researching new types of drugs has gathered 12 companies. They have produced a slew of important sci-tech achievements. A center for innovations in robotics developed 19 key technologies and 13 core products in the year it was established.

“In the past decade, Beijing E-Town, as the main platform for Beijing to develop into an international center for sci-tech innovation, utilized the core technologies of major national sci-tech projects to fix weak links and achieved more ‘zero to one’ breakthroughs,” said an official with Beijing E-Town.

During the 10 years, 15 projects from Beijing E-Town received the State Scientific and Technological Progress Award.

Application scenarios

A type of unmanned takeout delivery vehicle, developed by Chinese autonomous vehicle producer Neolix, has been put into use in Beijing E-Town.

What attracted Neolix to Beijing E-Town, which is home to the world’s first demonstration zone for high-level autonomous driving based on cloud control technologies, were the wide range of application scenarios, innovative support policies and dynamic industrial development of the area.

The wide array of application scenarios available in Beijing E-Town has also proved appealing to researchers in the three major science cities of Beijing. They are Zhongguancun Science City, Future Science City and Huairou Science City.

Researchers from those three areas are bringing their research outcomes to Beijing E-Town for development and industrial application. The resulting products and services are to be introduced to the rest of the country and the world.

Since 2017, Beijing E-Town has undertaken more than 600 sci-tech application projects from the science cities. Research institutes, colleges and the industries of the four areas have jointly developed more than 1,200 new technologies and new products since 2017.

“We have established a coordination mechanism and signed cooperation agreements with the three science cities,” said a Beijing E-Town official.

During the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), Beijing E-Town undertook more than 30 national sci-tech projects, including projects under the national 863 Plan — one of China’s top high-tech R&D programs.

Beijing E-Town is also contributing to the application of international sci-tech innovations. The global innovation center of Varian Medical Systems, a foreign-funded maker of devices and software for cancer treatment, will open in Beijing E-Town; Jacobio Pharmaceuticals, a Chinese company based in Beijing E-Town, has set up R&D laboratories abroad; IAT Automobile Technology, a Chinese automobile design company founded in 2007, has established wholly owned subsidiaries in foreign countries in an effort to capitalize on the world’s newest technologies.

Bringing in talent

An international talent community spanning some 1 million square meters is being constructed. It is intended to serve as an important link in Beijing E-Town’s network of support services for professionals.

In addition to quality infrastructure and facilities, the services and policies are critical if Beijing E-Town is to retain and properly utilize the talent brought in.

Chen Qian, chief scientist and co-founder of Chinese medical company ThorGene based in Beijing E-Town, shared the company’s reasons for choosing the area.

“The shared R&D platform of the Yizhuang Biomedical Park in Beijing E-Town helps companies cut down R&D costs. Beijing E-Town provides a friendly environment for talents and has brought together a group of creators and entrepreneurs of the highest caliber. And the area has also put in place a wide range of support policies for startups,” Chen said.

These have helped to ensure that Chen and his team can concentrate on their research into molecular genetics.

To improve independent innovation capabilities and break new ground in key technologies, Beijing E-Town has been nurturing young sci-tech professionals with notable innovation capabilities, including those who have received education overseas.

A talent structure — with academicians as the leaders, members of the local E-town Talents program as the backbone, and technical and skilled workers as the foundation — has taken shape in Beijing E-Town.

“Beijing E-Town will work to become a hub for high-level talent and support multiple types of high-caliber professionals to empower its high-quality, innovative growth and to take sci-tech development to new heights,” said an official of Beijing E-Town.

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