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May 15, 2019

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Old factories, latest industries

Many of the city’s old factory buildings have been given new leases of life as innovation parks.

Zhangjiang E-Park, covering about 100,000 square meters in the north of the city’s major innovation engine of Zhangjiang in the Pudong New Area, is a great example of how to revive a dying factory complex and make it a great place to live and work.

The site at 899 Dangui Road used to host an LCD-manufacturing factory.

Last year, renovation work was completed and the innovation park opened.

The park has a huge working space, almost equal to eight soccer fields, and hosts many startups and innovation centers of international companies such as Honeywell.

Han Lu, board chairman of the Zhangjiang Culture Co, said about 20 percent of the park’s tenants are from abroad.

Plug and Play Tech Center, one of the world’s largest tech incubators, plans to launch its regional headquarters in Zhangjiang E-Park in October this year, he said.

Its latest site in Zhangjiang will cover 13,000 square meters to become its second-largest tech and innovation center, and is set to serve business across the Yangtze River Delta.

After it is launched, it will join forces with Zhangjiang E-Park to launch a series of activities to build a platform connecting startups, incubators, government departments and other relevant bodies, Han said.

To better serve the park’s tenants, some government departments such as customs, the inspection and quarantine authority and the administrative affairs management center have offices in the park.

Place to work, shop and drink

Han said Zhangjiang E-Park is also an ideal place to live with a bookstore, cafes, restaurants and sports fields.

Huanle Entertainment (Shanghai) Technology Co, which was founded in Zhangjiang in 2009, moved from another industry park to a five-floor building in Zhangjiang E-Park last year.

Zhou Xian, CFO of the company, said its former site could no longer meet the company’s demands.

“There, it’s like every company works alone, and there’s a lack of support facilities,” she said. “Here we feel it’s a really great environment. We can find everything here, from dining to child-caring services, which can make talent stay.”

The company is famous for designing popular games such as “Dragon Nest” and “Ragnarok Online.”

Li Wei, co-CEO, said the company has enjoyed favorable policies.

“The park always encourages us to expand overseas and launch our products abroad,” she said. “It helps us connect with some useful resources.”

Changyang Campus is a downtown innovation focal point in a renovated textile factory in Yangpu District.

“Today’s young entrepreneurs don’t give up their personal lives, unlike the past generation who could stay in some suburban innovation parks for consecutive weeks,” said Xi Rongqing, general manager of the site. “They need a place to have a drink and go shopping. So, we proposed that innovation return to downtown areas.”

The campus, formerly Donghua Textile Factory, now has nearly 300 startups and tech firms. About 20 percent of them are engaged in the research and development of artificial intelligence, and four are unicorns including US-listed Liulishuo, literally “fluent spoken English,” an app allowing users to speak excellent English via AI technology.

Yang Bo, founder of AI-backed financial data management platform FIR.AI, returned from the Silicon Valley to start her business at Changyang Campus.

“For startups, we lack people and a place, but Changyang Campus helps us solve the problems,” she said.

Yangpu has top universities like Fudan and Tongji, with about 200,000 students creating a great talent pool.

“Nearly half of my employees are local university students,” Yang said.




 

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