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May 25, 2019

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City is building the best tools for top talent

TO achieve its ambition of becoming an innovation center with global influence, Shanghai must develop the right strategies and then the right tools to implement those strategies.

Critical tools for achieving this goal are developing infrastructure and attracting the best talent from at home and around the world.

Fourteen nation-level major science facilities have been, or are being, built in the city.

Those already in use include the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility, the city’s super X-ray machine, and the National Center for Protein Science Shanghai, the city’s super nuclear magnetic resonance system. Both help to discern very tiny proteins, viruses and even atoms.

Fourteen more facilities, many in the city’s innovation hub of Zhangjiang, are set to be completed by the end of 2025, attracting more scientists from around the world to engage in cutting-edge research here. And Shanghai already boasts the largest number of foreign experts on the Chinese mainland.

Shanghai has 215,000 working foreigners — 23.7 percent of the mainland’s total — and 55 have been honored with the Chinese government’s Friendship Award.

Since April 2017, Shanghai has issued more than 120,000 work permits, with more than 18 percent going to high-level foreign professionals, topping the country. And nearly 500 foreigners have been granted high-end foreign talent certificates.

Last month at the 17th Conference on International Exchange of Professionals in Shenzhen, Zhang Jianguo, deputy science and technology minister, released the latest “Amazing China — the Most Attractive Chinese Cities for Foreigners” ranking.

Shanghai, for the seventh straight year, topped the list.

Launched in 2010 by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, the poll asked foreigners to vote in four categories: expat-friendly policies, government administrative capacity and working and living conditions. The ranking polled of almost 10,000 foreigners including Nobel laureates and Chinese Friendship Award and Turing Award recipients.

They included Konstantin Novoselo, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010; Edvard Moser, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014; and Leslie Valiant, winner of the 2010 ACM A.M. Turing Award.

“Shanghai is becoming a very important hub for international talent,” Oscar Ramos, managing director of Shanghai-based Chinaccelerator, a leading startup accelerator in China, told Shanghai Daily.

When he decided to move to China 11 years ago, his go-to destinations were initially Shenzhen or Beijing. He thought they would be perfect for his startup until a friend recommended Shanghai. Years later, he still thinks that he made the right choice.

“Building a startup is a marathon and the support ecosystem is very important. Shanghai not only had a very supportive international community but in general was more welcoming for business with foreigners,” he said.

“Shanghai citizens and enterprises are early adopters of new technology, and the dynamic environment is a great ecosystem for innovation that is starting to be leveraged by both startups and multinationals,” he added.

In recent years, he felt that local companies are internationalizing further and faster than ever and that requires global teams with cultural diversity, and there’s great potential to build new products and services in Shanghai that will have global potential.

Frenchman Sebastien Gaudin released a healthcare app CareVoice in Jing’an District in 2014.

“Shanghai concentrates large successful multinational companies, Chinese private companies and fast-growing startups across sectors, and provides great opportunities for any foreign talent,” he said. “The quality of life is great too. The city has been modernized while preserving its heritage.

“The quality of air has been drastically improved and the many outside areas make it easy to enjoy sports and other activities,” said Sebastien. “Shanghai is definitely the most international city on the Chinese mainland, making it uniquely positioned to attract foreign talent.”

To attract foreign talent and keep them, Shanghai has released a set of favorable policies.

It has streamlined procedures for foreigners to apply for visas, and foreigners who work in the Pudong New Area just need five days to get work permits.

Besides, foreigners who enter China via an L visa for traveling or an M visa for doing business in China are allowed to apply for a work permit during their stay.

In March, the city government released 25 measures offering greater financial and administrative support for aspiring innovators to accelerate the city’s development as a global science innovation hub by encouraging overseas research and innovation institutes to build global innovation centers in Shanghai and cooperate with local laboratories.

To make their Shanghai life more convenient, the Shanghai Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs last year joined hands with the Bank of China’s Shanghai branch to launch a special “fast-track” pilot program to streamline credit card applications for high-end foreign talent in the city.

Since May 2018, 62 foreigners have obtained yuan credit cards. Previously, foreigners couldn’t get credit cards in China.

And 26 hospitals in Shanghai, including public comprehensive hospitals and privately run international hospitals, have signed agreements with international insurance companies.


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