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June 19, 2010

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Is Yangpu the next Silicon Valley?

WITH the Bay Area Council opening its first overseas office in Yangpu District, local entrepreneurs and companies will have access to some of the biggest high-tech multinational firms in the world, Fei Lai reports.

This week the spotlight is on Yangpu District, focusing on building its economy around innovative industries. The district has attracted the Bay Area Council of San Francisco, California, to open its first overseas office in Shanghai.

"The office opening is part of a long cooperation between the Bay Area Council and Yangpu in support of our innovation urban development plan," said Chen Yin, Party secretary of Yangpu District. "Yangpu's emphasis on technology, innovation and a transformation to business through financial supports and services makes the Bay Area an obvious partner."

Located in the district's Knowledge and Innovation Community, the council's office now serves to encourage trade and investment between China and the Bay Area, and assist Bay Area companies in bringing bright minds and technologies to bear in China's development.

Besides the office, the district is already home to 65 research institutions and companies such as Oracle, Baidu, eBao, Siemens, EMC and Silicon Valley Bank.

Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, optimistically believes that Yangpu could become the next Silicon Valley.

The Bay Area Council and Shanghai will spare no efforts in helping Silicon Valley-San Francisco businesses connect with these resources and meet partners, find customers and expand in China.

Wunderman led a delegation of 56 businessmen in the clean energy, medicine and high-tech fields on a five-day visit in Shanghai to learn more about Yangpu and the city.

"This is a very big deal for the business community here. It's truly a start," says Wunderman.

"While we represent some of the largest multinational corporations on the planet, this joint effort is about helping our region's up and coming small and medium-sized businesses access and build China's growing innovation economy.

"Soon, we will open other locations around the world, but we want our first office to acknowledge China's ascension to the stage as a world leader in innovation, and Yangpu is an ideal place for its innovative environment with a large amount of intellectual capital with its universities, research institutes and enterprises," he adds.

Recognizing that as the world capital for technology and innovation, Silicon Valley cannot take its economic position for granted anymore. As the global economy evolves, the Bay Area's business leaders recognize the need for aggressive outreach to other innovation centers to keep the region ahead of the curve.

In the same week, a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation on brownfield remediation was signed between Cherokee, a member of the Bay Area Council, and the Yangpu District government.

This MOU represents the first step of the cleanup and reuse of brownfields to ensure environmentally responsible development and allow for key lands to be put to productive use. The participants also intend to engage in a scientific policy dialogue and will create and build Brownfield Remediation Research Institute in Yangpu, as part of the Knowledge and Innovation Community.

In January, Yangpu was designated as an official "Innovation Zone" by the central government due to its ability to attract venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.

Nowadays, the district takes advantage of its industries such as modern design, electronics and information, education, energy-saving and environmental protection.

"Yangtze River Delta needs more innovation to create a low-carbon economy. Creation requires venture capital and the latest technology," says Vincent Lo, chairman of the Yangtze Council and founder, chairman and CEO of the Shui On Group.

"With the office established, the groundwork is prepared and the foundation is laid for bilateral benefit."

With an educated workforce and knowledge-based economy, Yangpu will provide more opportunities both for professionals and for local companies.

"So many of the people and companies that make our economy vibrant -- venture capitalists, clean-tech start-ups, IT companies, architects and health care companies -- badly want access to the knowledge, talent and customers of China, but don't know where to start," says Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Catholic Healthcare West, and chairman of the Bay Area Council.

"This office will help them do it. If you are a Chinese company that wants to partner with a Silicon Valley-San Francisco Bay Area business, give us a call."

Dean says it was his first visit to Shanghai and he promised it would not be the last.

"I'm so touched by the spirit of the World Expo Shanghai. China sits at the hub of the world and Yangpu could be its gateway."


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