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Shanghai’s Global Innovation Centre

In China’s 13th Five-Year Plan, one of the goals is to make Shanghai become a science and technology innovation centre with global influence. Recently, Shanghai’s efforts to realise these goals have resulted in a series of achievements.

The city witnessed a series of original sci-tech achievements and participated in multiple major national tasks in the science and technology field. In 2020, papers published by Shanghai scientists in world-leading academic journals accounted for 32% of China’s total. Researchers and scientists from Shanghai also facilitated national-level tasks.

Breakthroughs were made in industries including integrated circuits, biomedicine and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Shanghai retained its position as the most attractive Chinese city favoured by foreign talents for the eighth consecutive year last year, with an increasing appeal to high-level professionals.

The city will strive to become an important source of new scientific discoveries, technological inventions, industrial directions and development concepts by 2025, outlining eight core indicators which include total social R&D expenditure accounting for about 4.5% of the city’s GDP and the number of high-tech enterprises surpassing 26,000.

It is speeding up the construction of its global science and technology innovation centre with supporting methods including finance, research, talent attraction and international cooperation. According to the national strategy, Shanghai, along with Beijing and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, will become three global science and technology innovation centres. Shanghai’s Zhangjiang, along with Huairou, Hefei, and the Greater Bay Area are four national innovation centres.

By the end of 2020, the basic framework system of the Shanghai Science and Technology Innovation Centre had been formed, and the core indicators had achieved the target.

– Wu Qing, Shanghai’s Vice Mayor


Zhangjiang, in the Pudong New Area, is a shining star of city innovation. Since it was deemed a national hub of science technology development, it is now home to many innovation centres and platforms for strategic achievement. They include Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility (SSRF), China’s largest synchrotron research centre, and a lab that created a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease.

Shanghai is now home to 45 national research labs and various industrial zones like Zhangjiang. The city has attracted firms in AI, chips, and bio-medicine, as three strategic industries, to build its own industry chain and innovation ecosystem. It aims to relax more policies to attract overseas talent, especially those who will contribute to the city’s global innovation centre construction. They include relaxed conditions on work permit application and requirements on age and academic degrees, said the science and technology ministry.

Since its debut in 2020, Shanghai’s international tech trade market has attracted 4,000 tech firms and 547 service organisations. They deal with 14 million innovations and patents with a potential investment value of 16.9 billion yuan (US$2.64 billion).

As reported by OpenGov Asia, Shanghai displayed many Artificial Intelligence (AI), including Robots that can play chess and offer massage services, intelligent algorithms to recognise Oracle characters, micro “AI brains” for urban management and autonomous vehicles.

Shanghai is showing its AI prowess, which is highly connected with the city’s digital transformation and strategy blueprint. Shanghai tech firms bring the latest innovations and local government enhanced its efforts to make the city more intelligent and safe.

Tech giants as well as most promising AI firms have set up AI-related facilities. Chip designers are working on general and high-end chip development with more firms to develop applications for digital transformation in various industries.

The AI talent number hit 187,000 by July of 2020 In Shanghai, taking a leading position nationwide. In the city, 104 AI-related degree programs have been set up by 38 universities and colleges. Shanghai plans to develop AI in innovation, investment, platform and policy breakthroughs as a city-level strategy. By 2025, the city’s AI industry output will hit 400 billion yuan, double the 2020 level.

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