Shanghai's innovation spaces help spark new tech to boost upgrading

Shanghai entrepreneurs gather in over 500 innovation spaces in Shanghai, where ideas brew and innovations begin. 

Shanghai entrepreneurs often gather in an incubation space in Jing’an District during the weekend for a tech workshop, a broadcast of Apple’s new product release or just an European Cup match. In the P2 (People Squared) space, which is reconstructed from a factory, startups worked in the shared workstations and socialized and entertained in the public spaces.

Now they can expect more as Google has chosen Shanghai to hold Demo Day event, the first time for Google to bring the event to Asia. It will help Chinese startups pitch top investment and venture capital firms.

P2 is one of the 500 innovation spaces in Shanghai, which plans to establish or upgrade its ecosystem on startup and innovation. The city has its unique advantages like many incubation spaces, rich talent pool, huge investment to upgrade technology and advanced information infrastructure covering digitalized daily life and public services.

New technologies like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and cloud computing are expected to become new catalysts to accelerate Shanghai’s economic transformation and upgrading, said the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Development, the local industry regulator. 

Shanghai had over 500 incubation spaces, which offers various services to startups from shared work desks, special policy on rent and tax and related fundraising and legal services. The spaces covered 12,000 startups with 380,000 employees by the first half of 2017, according to latest figures. 

As one of them, P2 now has been home to 1,200 startups with 12,000 shared work desks. The firms in P2 have attracted a combined investment of 1 billion yuan (US$158.7 million) by February. 

“China is a great location for this event as investment activity and the startup ecosystem are booming,” said Google in a statement explaining the reason to choose the Shanghai for the event.

In 2017, 81,000 work permits were granted to foreigners in Shanghai, ranking No. 1 nationwide. Over 215,000 foreigners work in Shanghai, accounting for 23.7 percent of the national level.

Shanghai is home to one-third of the AI professionals nationwide, thanks to talent pool and potential AI development, said Wu Qing, the city’s vice mayor.

The traditional industries and latest technologies have been integrated in Shanghai, which creates high-efficient and environment-friendly methods.

China Baowu Steel Group Corporation plans to invest 8 billion yuan in Shanghai to upgrade technology and research. It helps the country’s biggest steel maker adopt more technologies on smart manufacturing and environment protection.

SenseTime, which plans to raise US$600 million in the world’s biggest AI fundraising exercise, will invest 6 billion yuan in Shanghai. It has also signed cooperation deals with Shanghai Lingang Group and Shanghai Inesa to develop AI in harbor management and devices used to track food quality.

Electronic driver’s license and tax certificate, easy checking of personal social security accounts and even nearby sites offering free condoms all help local citizens enjoy their digital life through a mobile application, eshimin (Citizen Cloud). 

Through the government-backed app, more than 100 features and public services are offered in the one-stop app, covering health care, transport, social security, community activity and traveling. Up to now, it has over 8.3 million registered users, more than one-third of the city’s population.

Shanghai’s intelligent lifestyle is based on huge volume of data and on how to use it. 

More than 500,000 Internet of Things devices, including sensors and monitors, fire alarm security, elevator status tracking, food security and road condition reporting, are being adopted in Jing’an District.

Shanghai Data Exchange Corp or SDE, the IoT project issuer, said the city has “natural advantages” in conducting the data business thanks to its global financial center position, advanced information infrastructure and rich talent pool.

Data mining and analysis technologies have been deeply used in the FinTech sector for risk control, anti-fraud and prevention of information leakage, said Ni Shuyin, CEO of Kuai Niu.

The Shanghai-based online finance firm has set up a special team with “several hundred people” nationwide working on security, Ni said during the LendIT FinTech Summit.

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