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October 28, 2020

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Innovation seen as vital factor in Delta integration

INNOVATION has become the keyword in the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region, Ruan Qing, deputy director of the city’s development and reform commission, said during the Pujiang Innovation Forum in Shanghai.

The Regional & Urban Forum, a sub-forum under the theme of “Making Efforts to Create an Innovative Urban Agglomeration through Wisdom, Collaboration and Sharing,” was held last Friday.

The Yangtze River Delta region, one of the most populated and urbanized city clusters in China, consists of Shanghai and neighboring Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces. Only a 26th of the country’s land, the region contributes to one fourth of the gross domestic product.

Now, regional development has entered the third phase, according to Ruan, driven by technological and industrial innovation. Over years, the region has become an emerging innovation hub accounting for one third of China’s research and development, he said.

“The region has natural advantages. It is a leader in manufacturing in China featuring the complete industrial chain,” Ruan said. “Besides, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Hefei spend at least 3 percent of GDP on research and development.”

He said: “We should take advantages of these innovative cities to promote scientific and technological cooperation in the region as well as to lead the innovation in the country.”

The Ministry of Science and Technology recently proposed building the region into a world-leading innovation community by 2035.

Ruan said the priority in this regard was to promote deeper cooperation among cities rich in innovation resources. “Cooperation among the region’s core cities really matters. Some small innovation communities built based on core cities such as Shanghai-Ningbo, Shanghai-Hangzhou, and Nanjing-Hebei have emerged,” he said.

He said that core cities should work to land major science facilities. Currently, the region has two state-level science centers, one in Shanghai’s Zhangjiang and the other in Hefei.

“I’m thinking about the possibility of the founding of a state-level regional technological innovation center led by Shanghai. It could be a platform to gather regional innovation resources and facilitate regional cooperation,” he said.

Half of the research in brain science is conducted in the region, he said, and regional cooperation could lead to major breakthroughs.

The G60 Brain Intelligence Innovation Park is under expansion in Songjiang. The park has made fruitful achievements, including pioneering research into nonhuman primates. In January last year, it created the world’s first genetically-edited cloned monkeys with disrupted circadian clocks.

Backed by the Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, it aims to become an international research center for nonhuman primate disease modeling, a national brain-like AI technology transformation center and an incubator for new medicines in the region.

Wu Zhiqiang, vice president of Tongji University, said a city’s innovation competitiveness relies on talent, capital, facilities and companies.

An often-neglected but important factor to make talent stay, he added, is to improve the working environment.

Michele Geraci, a former undersecretary of state at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, called for more cooperation between China and Italy, and China and Europe.

He said China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative should include more countries and promote more cooperation in science, culture and especially public health, a top concern of 2020.


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