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Innovation zone boosts city

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-11-29 19:28
Shanghai's Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Companies in Shanghai's Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone are sparing no effort in order to support the development of four key business areas — services, manufacturing, shopping and culture.

A plan to promote them was unveiled in April by the metropolis' government, which is aiming to realize high-quality development in the city and point the way forward for Shanghai to propel its economic transformation more effectively.

New energy vehicle sharing service provider EVCard — based in Shanghai International Automobile City, located in Anting town in the city's Jiading district — has become a pioneer in supporting the metropolis' services upgrade.

The automobile city is part of the demonstration zone that focuses on supporting the automotive industry in Shanghai. An industrial cluster that combines research and development, automotive production and trade has been developed in the area.

Established in 2013, the company was one of the first car rental companies in China that introduced the so-called periodic car leasing business model. The business model calculates rental costs by minutes rather than on a daily basis.

The company said its business model helps to lower customers' rental costs, reduces the total number of vehicles in the city and eases pressure on the environment.

The company also allows clients to take a car from one place and return it to another, providing more convenience for users.

EVCard has met with great success, growing exponentially, and now has a fleet of more than 42,000 cars in China, 8,000 of which are located in Shanghai. It has partnered with Shanghai's airport and rail service providers, so that users can rent a car quickly when they leave airports or train stations.

In central Shanghai's Huangpu district, customers can take advantage of a car delivery service to designated places if they book vehicles at least 15 minutes in advance.

During the China International Import Expo, a major national initiative to expand imports of goods and services that was held in Shanghai on Nov 5-10, EVCard provided patrol vehicles for fire hazard prevention work at the event, according to the Xinmin Evening News.

Over the past five years, the company has expanded its services to 64 cities in China. Its executives said this has strongly promoted traffic development in such regions as the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta.

The market in the Yangtze River Delta region is one of the development focuses of EVCard, according to the company.

"As a representative online traffic service provider, EVCard, which originated in Shanghai, targeted the Yangtze River Delta region and then subsequently the rest of China," said EVCard General Manager Cao Guangyu.

"EVCard will strive to be a branded traffic service provider that supports Shanghai's services upgrade," he added.

To date, EVCard has built a client base of more than four million registered users and has established 64,000 parking lots around China.

Nearly 100,000 orders are received by the company every day, which means a new order every 1.2 seconds.

This year, EVCard partnered with SAIC to develop a customized vehicle model. When on the road, it will be the first internet-connected smart vehicle for the periodic car leasing business. The first 20,000 cars will be introduced to the market at the end of 2019, according to the company.

Consultancy Roland Berger said in a report in 2017 that China's car-sharing service providers will see tremendous opportunities in the coming five years.

"The Chinese car-sharing market is expected to continue to grow 45 percent per year in terms of fleet size until 2025," the report said.

Also in the Zhangjiang demonstration zone, a company has become a leader in supporting the development of Shanghai's manufacturing sector, according to zone officials.

The company has successfully developed capsule endoscopy systems — utilizing tubes with a light and camera attached to it, allowing doctors to view a patient's digestive tract on a TV monitor — which can be used in disease detection. Integrated with more than 300 components, the devices have been developed using more than 80 patents for technological innovation.

The company has been a leader in generating patents involving magnetic field control, optical imaging and chip integration, according to the company.

At the World Internet Conference, which took place in early November in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, the company was ranked No.1 in the list of 2018 China Top 10 Makers.

In addition, the company's products were displayed at an exhibition, known as the Road of Rejuvenation, in Beijing in July. They featured alongside other innovative products such as the world's largest radio telescope — the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope, also known as FAST — and the Fuxing bullet trains. The exhibition attracted thousands of visitors this year.

Shanghai's Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

New mechanisms

Shanghai's Zhangjiang zone, home to both Ankon and EVCard, has become a hub for numerous innovative businesses, currently estimated to number around 500,000.

Officials say the zone, approved by the State Council in 1988 as a high-tech development area, is set to be a powerhouse of regional innovation, a forefront of reform in China and a springboard to support the city's continued development as a globally influential technology hub. The zone now operates 22 industrial parks scattered in all 16 districts of Shanghai.

After more than three decades of expansion, it has become a gathering place for innovative businesses and emerging industries. Estimates are that it is home to more than 70,000 high-tech companies employing some 2.1 million people.

To date, more than 1,900 research and development centers and 44 academic institutes have settled in the zone, and over 80 percent of Shanghai's high-caliber professionals have chosen to locate in Zhangjiang, according to the zone.

Last year, key companies in the zone reported a combined operating income of 4.69 trillion yuan ($675.95 billion). The value of industrial throughput for 2017 was estimated at 1.44 trillion yuan.

According to the zone, the companies located there have registered 156,000 independently developed intellectual property rights.

Emerging industries in Zhangjiang have reported rapid development over the past few years. Clusters of five key industrial sectors — information technology, high-end manufacturing, biotechnology, energy savings and new materials — are currently located in the zone. Officials say that in addition, industrial clusters for new energy, high-tech services and new energy vehicles are developing well in the zone.

In recent years, the zone has also paid close attention to building the region up as a springboard for the integration of the technology and culture industries.

According to the zone, a well-developed pharmaceutical product chain — covering research and development and the commercialization of research results and services — has been established, attracting leading multinationals such as Roche and Novartis to launch operations there.

Integrated circuit businesses in Zhangjiang have also reported technological breakthroughs and made significant contributions to supporting industry development in China.

Officials say Zhangjiang has reported breakthroughs in many advanced scientific fields and some results represent the highest levels of industry. The zone has participated in or initiated many key scientific projects covering the development of deep sea exploration, quantum communications and manned spacecraft.

Significant advances are also being reported in areas such as high-end medical imaging equipment, stem cell treatment and microchip development and production.

According to officials, the zone has long been committed to promoting internationalization and has established a market-driven working mechanism that supports the smooth interaction between businesses and international markets.

It is estimated that there are some 45,000 foreign experts and overseas returnees working in the zone. The number of Fortune Global 500-listed companies operating there reached 325 by Sept 25, accounting for one-third of the total located in China.

In addition, the innovation hub has joined forces with the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the first of its kind in China, to provide all necessary conveniences to support cross-border trade and commerce.

Officials said the zone has made a name for itself by creating a premium environment for startups and innovative businesses. It has more than 600 public service platforms that can offer services such as intellectual property rights, fintech, professional recruitment and business incubation.

It has long promoted streamlined administrative procedures to delegate more power to lower-level industrial parks, to enhance its working efficiency.

Officials also said the zone's authorities were piloting a concept, allowing individual parks to administer themselves.

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