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Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone Puts Invests Big to Build the 'Silicon Valley of Western China'

February 12, 2017

Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone, which is billed by many as the upcoming "Silicon Valley of western China", recently announced its intent to put a much bigger push behind its efforts to recruit high end talent. Its new plans show that by the end of 2020 it will have spent RMB 5 billion (around USD $730 million) to bring in some of the best people from around the globe.

During that same period, Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone will invest another USD 1.46 billion to augment the competitiveness of its scientific and technological innovation system.

Spurred by the Chinese economy's long-term and sustained growth and China's continuous increase in investment in high and new technology segment, a rising amount of international talent is flocking to the central cities of China. Of note, this influx of worldwide human resources is not only limited to first tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou; as a substantial portion have opted for "China's new first-tier" cities like Chengdu in the western part of the country, while hi-tech industrial parks have become a focal point for a large number of global talent.

Gan Lijun, in charge of the human resources department at Chengdu Hi-tech Zone, explained that this year the zone will continue reinforcing cooperation with global innovation hubs such as Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and Sophie Antipolis. In particular, actions will be taken to strengthen the establishment of an offshore overseas talent base, create mass entrepreneurship spaces and offshore incubators with overseas "pre-incubation" functionality, and fortify exchanges with world-class educational institutions like Harvard University and Stanford University, so as to "emphatically promote reform on the science and technology supply side, and attract talent from across the globe".

On December 30 last year, J. Michael Bishop Institute of Cancer Research was officially founded in Chengdu Hi-tech Zone, with J. Michael Bishop being the fourth Nobel Prize laureate to establish a presence in this area. Previously, Jack Szostak, Karl Barry Sharpless and John Gurdon, three other Nobel laureates, have already been genuinely attracted to Chengdu Hi-tech Zone and have all set up research institutes in the region to conduct and facilitate cutting-edge technical exchanges and science and technology project collaboration.

Top-notch talent continually injects vitality into technical innovation here. In 2016, a team led by Prof. Tang Yujian, one of the foremost global experts in regenerative medicine, changed the course of development in regenerative medicine as they successfully transplanted into a rhesus macaque monkey a blood vessel fabricated from their independently researched and developed 3D printer. Li Jin, who stayed in the United Kingdom for 27 years and has acted as an executive at a leading pharmaceutical company for almost a decade, came to Chengdu and founded Chengdu HitGen Development Co., Ltd., which has become China's number one and the world's fourth-ranked medicine screening and filtering "seed bank". On January 10 this year, IDEALENS company from Chengdu Hi-tech Zone participated in the International Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas by invitation, and showcased to global VR industry giants myriad leading-edge VR technological innovations that have garnered widespread attention.

Although situated in inland China, the level of development of Chengdu Hi-tech Zone stands shoulder to shoulder with those in the Chinese coastal region. According the latest data, in 2016 Chengdu Hi-tech Zone has GDP per capita exceeding USD 30,000; attracted a total of 12,700 science and technology companies and an accumulated 83,000 companies, of which more than a thousand are foreign funded enterprises and 115 are Fortune Global 500 companies; and realized about USD 23 billion in total trade.

At present, China is dedicating much of its effort to supporting the growth of "new economies," and as such Chengdu Hi-tech Zone has been tasked with more "national missions," and confirmed as a "national independent innovation model area," "comprehensive innovation reform trial area" and a core zone of the "free trade trial area". Meanwhile, the Chinese central government has upgraded the city of Chengdu to the status of "national central city" and assigned it the new objective of becoming the "science and technology center of western China". Chengdu Hi-tech Zone is the pillar that underpins Chengdu's endeavor in building a national central city and has amassed the interest of an increasing number of international talent.

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