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Shenzhen's economic miracle fueled by innovation, talent

Updated: Jun 15, 2023 Xinhua Print
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Skyscrapers border a lush green landscape in Shenzhen's central business district. [Photo provided to]

SHENZHEN -- Once a small fishing village, Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province is now a mega city, having spent nearly five decades growing at full speed.

As the first special economic zone and tech-hub of the world's second largest economy, Shenzhen's GDP totaled 3.2 trillion yuan ($447.13 billion) in 2022, taking third place in China after Shanghai and Beijing.

What created this metropolitan miracle? The answer lies in ceaseless innovation and highly competent talents.

Innovation-based success

Over three decades, Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics Co Ltd grew from an agent for imported medical devices to China's biggest medical solution provider. During this period, it developed cutting-edge technologies, while boosting its core competitiveness and developing the power of its brand.

Mindray takes up a considerable share of the international market with its self-developed products, such as monitors, anesthesia machines and ventilators. The company's direct-selling products have entered two thirds of hospitals in the United States.

With an annual revenue over 30 billion yuan ($4.19 billion), Mindray puts over 10 percent of its revenue into innovation and research, which has taken the company's business performance to a higher level. In the first quarter of 2023, Mindray saw both revenue and net profit increase by more than 20 percent.

"A great market nurtures good enterprises," Mindray's founder Li Xiting said, attributing the company's success to solid innovation-based research and development of products and services to meet the ever-changing market demand.

The local government also plays an indispensable role, Li added, noting the policy and capital support that Mindray received in the early stages, as well as the current favorable innovation atmosphere, industrial ecology and business environment in Shenzhen.

Improving the business environment is one of the priorities of Shenzhen's government work. In recent years, it has strengthened legislation to tackle dishonest business practices and unfair competition, while utilizing AI to reduce administrative intervention, and establishing pilot projects to better protect intellectual property.

During a recent visit to Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing stressed that independent innovation is an inherent requirement for building a powerful manufacturing nation and achieving high-quality development, adding that enterprises should take more responsibility for attaining dominance in innovation.

Zhang said that enterprises should focus on the primary strategic needs of the country and building a modern industrial system, keep an eye on the trend of industrial development and technological changes, strengthen basic research, and continuously optimize the environment for independent innovation.

Young and competitive talents

Shenzhen has continued to ramp up efforts to foster innovation with a view to advancing technological development, including setting up research alliances encompassing leading universities and research institutes.

Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology was co-founded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen government and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. It specializes in research on health care, robots, new energy and materials, big data and smart cities.

The average age of SIAT's 3,219 personnel is 33, while the annual turnover rate stands at 15 percent, ensuring high-level competence and a competitive mechanism.

As a result, SIAT has established 230 laboratories jointly with enterprises, while 1,582 businesses have been incubated. Altogether 27.5 percent of scientific and technological achievements have been converted into practical use.

Huang Shuqiang, SIAT's human resources director, said that the institute applies a system of competition for funding, with a certain rate of elimination applied to the personnel, which stimulates their innovative efforts. Meanwhile, the institute's coordination with enterprises boosts healthy market-driven competition.

The relatively high conversion rate is supported by SIAT's innovation and the government's industrial policies, said Fu Xiongfei, SIAT's deputy director.

He explained that Shenzhen has mapped out a new model for start-up businesses, namely "upstairs-downstairs," which means accommodating industrial research and incubation inside one complex, making for more efficient innovation and talent integration.

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