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Beijing to spend $1.5b on 'Silicon Valley of China'


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China's booming Zhongguancun district is set to receive a $1.5 billion upgrade to help the 'Silicon Valley of China' become an innovation hotspot.


China will invest approximately $1.5 billion to upgrade its Zhongguancun district, an area northwest of Beijing with a strong presence of technology companies.

The cash injection will be used to fund the tech-focused makeover of the Zhongguancun district, also known as the "Silicon Valley of China".


The 7.2 kilometres of Zhongguancun Street -- or its immediate vicinity -- is already the hub of Chinese technology companies such as Xiaomi. It is also the local residency for multinational companies including Google, Intel, Sony, and Ericsson, which have all established research and development centres in Zhongguancun.


The investment, through a fund managed by the Haidian district where Zhongguancun is located, seeks to improve the image of the area and publicise the advanced technology being developed there, local authorities stressed in a statement.


Zhongguancun's makeover will include renovation of infrastructure and elimination of many electronic stores that sell products at sale prices, which has turned the neighbourhood into a major attraction over the past decade.


The plan also includes devoting more than 100,000 square metres of space to incubators of international talent, as reported by official news agency Xinhua.

Earlier this week, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk signed an agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the government agency responsible for steering China's science and technology development.


Under the agreement, Queensland entrepreneurs and researchers will take part in placements within China's science and technology incubators, at a rate of eight per year, for the next three years.

"We know innovation can lead to big economic growth," Palaszczuk said. "Through mentoring, local business links, access to world-class facilities, and some of China's leading business and science experts, incubators are the perfect environment to prototype, test, attract investment, and commercialise innovative ideas."


Under the program, successful applicants will receive up to AU$20,000 to support three-month placements in one of MOST's six major incubators, including the Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone in Shanghai and Zhongguancun Technology Science Park.


"By 2022, China is expected to be the world's largest financer of research and development," Palaszczuk said. "Combined with their economic transition to a more service-based economy, this will increase demand for new technologies and innovations."


Also taking advantage of the Chinese technology boom is the Australian government, which said previously that Shanghai was being positioned by the Chinese government as a global centre for technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.


Earlier this year, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne unveiled Shanghai as the desired location for one of its five startup landing pads across the globe.


Pyne said a landing pad in Shanghai would further strengthen Australia's trade relationship with China, and the city's history of commerce and entrepreneurship makes it a good entry point to the huge Chinese market.


"Entrepreneurs accessing the landing pads will be assisted to commercialise their products and services through access to the expertise, infrastructure, and innovation and marketing networks of local partners," he said at the time.


"Landing pads are a key component of our agenda because they will build international collaboration performance by emerging Australian companies, enabling them to leverage the entrepreneurial expertise in these strategic hubs."


The AU$11 million startup landing pad initiative was designed to help Australian entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market and build high-growth and high-return enterprises, and forms part of the government's AU$1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda.


The government expects these five landing pads to accelerate Australia's access to international business networks, entrepreneurial talent, business development, and investors by creating a unique ecosystem for innovation to thrive.


In addition to Shanghai, the first pad kicked off in Silicon Valley at RocketSpace, which has been working with tech startups and corporate innovation professionals since 2011. The second space will be in Tel Aviv and the remaining two are expected to be positioned in Europe and in another capital city in Asia.


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