The historical commercial hub of Guangzhou is extending its global reach by building itself into an international innovation and technology center, and has made remarkable achievements, according to local officials.[Special Coverage]
Guangzhou is exploring new areas for innovation, said Lin Huanxu, an official of the Guangzhou science, technology and innovation commission.
To achieve that goal, Guangzhou has been working on building more innovation zones, pilot free trade zones and all-round innovative reform pilot zones around the city, Lin said.
Recently, a number of high-tech and innovation-driven companies launched their key projects or major business parks in Guangzhou, including Foxconn and General Electric.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, social media platform WeChat and news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao have set up branches or offices in the Pazhou Internet Innovation Zone, an internet and e-commerce cluster along the Pearl River.
China's leading electronic appliance maker Haier Corp announced in August it would build its southern China headquarters in Guangzhou's Nansha district. Its first-phase investment is scheduled to reach 20 billion yuan (.03 billion).
Once the project is completed, it is expected to generate 100 billion yuan in annual revenue in five years. Officials said the project will help attract thousands of professionals to the city specializing in finance, science and technology and intelligent manufacturing.
A city adjacent to Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macao, Guangzhou is an important part of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, a plan to connect and transform the local industrial clusters into a bigger whole.
Guangzhou has paid great attention to the development of innovation-driven companies, Lin said.
The total number of high-tech companies in the city has now reached 4,739, which is 3.4 times the number in 2012.
Among them, 2,820 were established in 2016, the growth rate topping other major cities of China.
Lin said the number of high-tech companies setting up in this year is expected to exceed 2,000.
Guangzhou has been providing financial support to those high-tech companies.
Officials said that in five years, starting from the beginning of 2017, the city will seek to attract 100 companies with the potential to be role models for other companies, and give each of them up to 5 million yuan as an award.
To back small and medium-sized enterprises, Guangzhou will select another 200 firms, providing them with support and tracking services.
"We will provide better services to startups by establishing more innovation spaces, incubators, industrial accelerators and science parks," Lin said.
Currently Guangzhou has some 230 science and technology business incubators, which occupy a total area of 8.8 million square meters.
Diverse incubators with distinctive characteristics emerge now and then, with upgraded business models and smarter services featuring in their daily operations.
In 2016, the city government of invested 11.3 billion yuan in supporting research and development, doubling the amount in 2012. Some 80 percent of that total went to support R&D conducted by companies.
In addition, the city is paving the way for higher-level international exchanges in R&D.
By setting up offices in Silicon Valley and Boston in the United States, as well as in Israel, the city is moving to access more international innovation resources－as well as enhancing its exchanges and cooperation in science and technology with other countries.
GE recently kicked off a bio-campus project in the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City. Its aims to build a leading biopharmaceutical and healthcare facility in the city.
"Hopefully, by sharing their resources and complementary advantages, we can build the GE bio-campus into a world-class biopharmaceutical ecosphere," said Duan Xiaoying, CEO of GE China.
Guangzhou was ranked a first-tier city among the world's top 100 cities, in a report released last year by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Research Network.
In March, the China Development Research Foundation and PricewaterhouseCoopers released their joint Chinese Cities of Opportunity 2017 report.
The report ranked Guangzhou No 1, ahead of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
The report was produced with an analysis of the surveyed cities' performances in areas such as intellectual capital and innovation, technology readiness and economic clout.