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May 16, 2017

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Innovative tech on display at Chengdu fair

MORE than 2,800 projects, with an estimated value of over 24 billion yuan (US$3.5 billion), concluded transaction during the 2017 Chengdu Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fair, which was held in the capital city of Sichuan Province during May 10-12.

Special events related to investment, entrepreneurship and technology attracted more than 11,000 foreign and domestic investors and entrepreneurs. Technology-related deals reached 8.36 billion yuan, while equity-investment transactions totaled 15.67 billion yuan.

Several Chinese and overseas experts gathered in the 2017 World Future Science and Technology Forum on May 11, which was part of the fair, and spent almost two hours discussing the country’s world-leading work in developing nuclear fusion — which promises to offer clean, limitless energy.

China is one of the seven core members of ITER, an international nuclear fusion research and engineering project, to build the world’s largest magnetic fusion device to create clean and sustainable energy. The ambitious plan cost more than 100 billion yuan.

It is hoped to be operating commercially by 2050 and change global energy supply and consumption, said Luo Delong, director of the China International Nuclear Fusion Energy Program Execution Center.

“The nuclear fusion project represents top-level science and innovation development and close global cooperation,” Luo told a GIEF forum at the fair.

Chengdu is one of the major nuclear fusion research centers in China, which will have its own megaproject in the long term besides being part of ITER, experts told the forum.

The topic and the annual fair showcased the ambitions of Chengdu to build itself as a “national central city.” Chengdu will also strengthen its position as the western center of economy, technology, finance, culture and innovation, and foreign relations, as well as the comprehensive transport and communication hub.

The fair, the biggest annual innovation fair in west China, opened last Wednesday with the theme “talent and innovation, opening and sharing.” It showcases not only the global trend of innovation and entrepreneurship, but China’s achievement as well. Meanwhile, the fair aims to showcase technology trends and products, boost cross-border cooperation and attract top talent to Chengdu.

Innovation and entrepreneurship are in the genes of the city of Chengdu. While still retaining its age-old charm, this rapidly modernizing “City of Enterprise” is pioneering in the world of innovation, said Chengdu officials.

More than 600 exhibitors, including giants such as Huawei, GE, Siemens and Tencent, investment, trade firms such as IDG and start-ups attended the fair, displaying more than 1,000 devices in an exhibition space of more than 40,000 square meters.

About 600 people, including four Nobel prize winners, Chinese and foreign government officials, venture capital and private equity investors and business executives attended the related GIEF conferences and forums.

GIEF’s rapidly rising profile highlights the increasingly attractive investment environment of Chengdu.

According to China’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship and New Economy Indexes released during the fair, Chengdu’s innovation index rose from 203 last year to 220 this year. That also makes it 7.39 percentage points higher than the national average.

The indexes, based on measures ranging from business to investments, the environment, innovation and entrepreneurship, were released in Chengdu after Premier Li Keqiang visited Chengdu’s Jingrong Town and encouraged development of tech innovation and new economy last year. The indexes have became an important benchmark for policy making.

In 2016, Chengdu’s newly registered capital volume hit 922.8 billion yuan (US$3.3 billion), a year-on-year jump of 41 percent.

High-tech industry output reached 838.7 billion yuan last year, adding about 12,000 new technology firms. Chengdu-based firms applied for 98,251 new patents in 2016, 25.9 percent more than a year earlier.

The high-tech industry development and improved investment environment will boost Chengdu’s new economy revenue, the growth engine of the city, fueled by the integration of technology and finance.

Sino-Germany Innovation Cooperation Agreement with a total investment of 300 million yuan was signed during the 2017 Belt and Road Initiative China-Europe (Chengdu) Innovation Cooperation Summit. A number of distinguished guests, such as Sha Zukang, former Chinese ambassador to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Joaquin de Aristegui Laborde, Spain’s consul general in Beijing, Dr Gernot Grimm from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology of Austria, attended the summit. It aims to boost more cooperation during Chengdu and Europe.

In the 2017 World Future Science and Technology Forum, covering next-generation technology, global cooperation, finance system optimization and intellectual property rights protection, speakers including Nobel prize winners and business executives talked about science’s future, fusion power and artificial intelligence.

Latest technologies and trends in artificial intelligence, big data, wearable computing and quantum computing were also discussed at the forums like the Silicon Valley Innovation Entrepreneurship Forum (Chengdu) and the US-China Innovation and Investment Summit 2017 (Chengdu).

The city has also attracted attention and investment from tech giants.

At the fair, iFlytek, China’s biggest voice-recognition service provider, demonstrated voice-activated technology for turning lights on and off and searching TV programs, making away with the need for remote controls.

The company plans to open a new research center in Chengdu next month, with 400 to 500 research engineers by the end of the year.

The center will focus on voice recognition and artificial intelligence, said Li Jianfeng, iFlytek’s general manager in Sichuan Province.

In Chengdu, Alibaba’s Ant Financial has more than 10 million users. With financial services and credit system, Ant Financial offers users various financial services including immediate loans valued between 1,000 yuan and 200,000 yuan, which fuels consumption and innovation, Zou Liang, vice president of Ant Financial’s Alipay division, told the GIEF’s West Financial Forum.

Global cooperation

GIEF also provided a communications channel for overseas entrepreneurial organizations, thanks to Chengdu’s unique geographic and economic position.

European Union ambassador to China Hans Dietmar Schweizgut said the EU and China had a shared vision of science innovation and sustainable development, which brings both sides close together.

A newly-built Business and Innovation Center for China-Europe Cooperation also opened last week in Chengdu, with an investment of 3 billion yuan, covering 210,000 square meters.

The center, regarded as a “flagship window” on China-Europe trade and cooperation, features a trade center, technology center, start-up incubator, European firms’ regional headquarters and service platforms.

A total of 58 cities attended the Innovation Forum for Mayors of International Sister Cities of Chengdu. They talked about how to create better environment for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The fair also attracted overseas startups to showcase their technologies and look for partners in China. These included Bloomsky from the Silicon Valley, with its precise weather forecasting based on AI technology.


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