The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses

Alessio Bejan
Lingang is rapidly expanding and aims to attract more foreigners and businesses. Join us this Friday to learn about the area's growth, opportunities, and vibrant community.
Alessio Bejan
The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses
Brandon McGhee

Government building of Lingang Special Area Administration

This Friday, there is a pretty important event happening for those of you interested in setting up a business or are interested in ways Shanghai is booming. For those of us who have flown into Shanghai into Pudong airport, you might be familiar with that interesting near perfectly circular lake at the bottom of Shanghai. That's Lingang area, and it's currently a booming town part of Shanghai.

Yes, Lingang is a trek, but the event organizers have you covered with transportation from the city center, complimentary lunch, as well as a slew of activities around the area and the chance to get face time with government officials. Register for the event here and read on past the fold to get some highlights as to why this area might be worth the visit for business and inquisitive minded expats.

The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses

Scan to register for the event.

Lingang's Growth is Staggering

Lingang's economic engines are roaring, seeing average annual GDP increases of nearly 20 percent outpacing many places; not just in China, but around the world.

Lingang's annual growth rates are impressive: 19.8 percent for GDP, 34.6 percent for industrial output, 33.4 percent for fixed asset investment (investments in infrastructure, buildings, machinery, etc.), and 37.5 percent for import and export volume. Additionally, about 30 percent of the city's construction sites are in this area. This area is a huge part of Shangha's growth.

The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses
Brandon McGhee

The entrepreneur park has an exhibition on both the park itself as well as dedicated to detailing some of Lingang's growth and development. Here, they have a pretty cool multi-wall video presentation introducing the area.

A Visit to Lanwan Entrepreneurship Park:

We stopped by the Lingang Lanwan Entrepreneurship Park to get insights into how the area is aiming to attract foreign business, entrepreneurs, and foreign talents. It is developing into a key hub in Shanghai in the biomedicine, new energy, intelligent connected vehicles (like Tesla and CATL), and frontier or intelligent fields like robotics and new materials.

We had a chance to talk to Ma Qiang, assistant general manager of Shanghai Lingang Fengxian Economic Development Company.

During our tour Ma had mentioned that businesses within the park receive a slew of benefits.

Q: You mentioned an Entrepreneurs club! What is that?

Ma: Alright, the Entrepreneurs Club mainly serves entrepreneurs and investors operating within the park. We also include expatriates and scholars in our community. Our primary aim is to build platforms for them – like industry networking events and cultural exchanges within the park, as well as sporting competitions. These platforms help bring entrepreneurs together, facilitating collaboration and integration of their services and businesses, especially in the semiconductor area, which is highly encouraged. Within this sector, we promote cooperation between companies and even offer governmental subsidies for local procurement to foster a vibrant internal ecosystem. So essentially, the Entrepreneurs Club is a hub for networking and interaction.

The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses
Brandon McGhee

Ma Qiang, assistant general manager of Shanghai Lingang Fengxian Economic Development Company

With over 70 foreign invested companies currently in the park, Ma Qiang highlighted a few notables:

  • Medtronic and Boston Scientific: Both of these US companies are global giants in medical devices have established R&D and production bases in Lingang.
  • HeartCare: A leading company in neuro-interventional medical devices, HeartCare was founded by overseas returnees and has quickly become a success story in Lingang.
  • TopAlliance Biosciences: A Chinese company with operations in California, specializing in monoclonal antibodies, TopAlliance developed the first FDA-approved product in China, marking a significant milestone for the biotech industry.
  • CanSinoBIO: A Chinese vaccine company, known for its mRNA vaccines, CanSinoBIO has set up a cutting-edge production line in Lingang which produces and ships vaccines around the world, further cementing the area's reputation as a biotech hub.

The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses
Brandon McGhee

This small device is one of the many innovations on display at the Lingang Lanwan exhibition center. It's a left atrial appendage occluder (this device is used to block off the left atrial appendage in the heart to reduce the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation). It's made by Laager, the world's only high-tech enterprise specializing in minimally invasive interventional implants that provides a complete solution for both the prevention and treatment of strokes through "simultaneous brain and heart treatment."

Residence & Work Permits are Streamlined in Lingang

Yang Wu, Vice Minister and Deputy Director of the Party and Mass Affairs Department (Human Resources Division) of the Lingang New Area Management Committee, sat down with us to talk a little about how Lingang is also innovating in the immigration space to streamline things for foreigners.

Q: Can you tell us a little about how Lingang is investing in immigration services for foreigners?

Yang: Absolutely, starting with the services provided by our government for expatriates. You've all recently visited our Immigration Affairs Service Center, right? When setting up our talent services, we relocated the immigration facilities right next to the new area you saw, the Immigration Affairs Service Center. Originally, these services were located in Huinan Town, the old Nanhui district. We attracted them here with very favorable conditions – I provided them with office space and logistical support. They just needed to transfer their staff to work here.

Why did we go to the expense of moving the immigration services? It's simple. By having these services close to our Lingang area, it becomes much easier for expats to manage immigration matters like passport services, Hong Kong and Macau travel permits, visas, and residence permits, all conveniently in one place.

Right next to it, we've established our Immigration Affairs Service Center, which we aim to develop into Shanghai's flagship center for immigration affairs. This center is designed to cater to the needs of overseas talent in every aspect of daily life. It isn't a center just for processing resident and work permits, foreigners can speak with English-speaking staff there for many aspects of integrating into Lingang.

The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses
Brandon McGhee

Yang Wu, vice minister and deputy director of the Party and Mass Affairs Department (Human Resources Division) of the Lingang New Area Management Committee

We stopped by the Lingang Entry & Exit Administration in Lingang, and it is a complete evolution compared to other EEB's that expats might be accustomed too. It promises to be a one-stop "integration" center, not just for handling visa's and work permits. Foreigners can venture down there to get information on all sorts of things, from education inquiries, where to get healthcare, to even getting help on finding an ayi.

We Spoke to Miss Fu, a staff worker at the Entry Exit Administration in Lingang. to learn more about this center in Lingang.

Q: Recently there was a change in how work permits and residents permits were handled in Lingang, can you tell us more about that?

Fu: Yes, in November 2020, the Lingang New Area took over the approval of foreign work permits. This is handled by the Human Resources Department of the Lingang New Area Management Committee, specifically by Yang's department.

The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses
Brandon McGhee

The offices for foreign integration in Lingang where foreign residents can process their work and resident permits, as well as ask staff for information regarding services and life in Lingang. Service in English!

Q: So no need to go to the Foreign Experts Bureau?

Fu: Yes, that's right. Now, the final approval authority for work permits in Lingang is handled by the area's Human Resources Department. Everything can be handled within the area. However, for city-level issues, there are still city-level approval points. Our immigration hall handles everything from work permits and entry visas to residence permits. We have a special window where you can handle work permits and residence permits at the same time, in one day.

Q: And how long does it currently take to process work permits in Lingang. And does Lingang offer services / help for foreign entrepreneurs who are starting their own business?

Fu: Right now it currently takes about 15 days for the work permit, and an additional 7 days to get a residence permit. And yes, we have a hotline which foreigners can call (68289698 ext 8012) to speak with service staff in English. However, if the issues are more complicated than what can be handled over the phone, they can come to our office, where we will provide one-on-one guidance, including helping with filling out the forms and explaining the details. And they do not need an appointment, they can just walk-in.

Here's the address: Window 1,1/F, A1, No. 158 Zishan Rd, Lingang New Area.



The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses
Brandon McGhee

Miss Fu, a staff worker at the Entry Exit Administration in Lingang.

Additional Business Support Services:

In addition to streamlined work and resident processes, the area also offers quite a few benefits to companies registering there. A few of these highlights include:

Legal Support

- Lingang has established a Legal Services Center that provides basic and common legal support.

- Regular lectures and one-on-one consultations are available.

Finance and Accounting Support

- Basic financial and accounting services are provided free of charge to support business growth.

Access to Capital

- Lingang offers assistance in connecting businesses with potential investors.

- Services include introducing businesses to banks for debt financing and matching them with investment funds for equity financing.

- Lingang itself has funds available to invest in promising entrepreneurial projects.

But what about living in Lingang?

We spoke a bit more at length with Yang Wu about how Lingang is developing itself to attract foreign talent.

Q: How is Lingang developing to better serve international talents?

Yang: One of the big issues Lingang has faced in its early development years, was the living and social facilities. Whether it's domestic talents or overseas talents, they have a common reaction to Lingang, which is that the living facilities are not very well developed, it's not convenient to eat, shop, and entertainment activities were limited. So at the outset, people worked in Lingang, but in the evening, everyone left to their homes in the city center, Jinqiao, Lianyang, Gubei, etc. So we have been hard at work over the years to improve these elements.

Q: Yes, indeed we've heard about the speed of development down here. Even from our last visit three years ago, it looks as though many aspects have changed.

The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses
Brandon McGhee

Yang Wu in the halls of administration building of Lingang

Yang: Yes. Let me give you an example of this, there was an expat, he was a head of a company making underwater robots here. Yes, I remember his name clearly, it's Andre. At that time, he was working in Lingang but he and his family were living in the Jinqiao (in Pudong New Area). We asked him, why don't you live in Lingang? He said that once the area has good international schools in Lingang, his children could study there, and he would choose to settle his family in Lingang, to live and work there. So we identified this need, and set out to resolve it. As we developed and brought new international schools to Lingang, Andre reconsidered. The improved educational facilities and overall living environment convinced him to relocate his family to Lingang, where they now enjoy the benefits of living and working in the same dynamic area. At present we have a Yeh Wah Bilingual School and a Yew Chung International School campus in Lingang (which was the first International School to be invited by the Shanghai government back in the 1990's).

Q: What about other services, such as healthcare, shopping, recreation, etc?

Yang: We've developed other facilities to support the expat community in Lingang including the Grand Mercure Shanghai Lingang, Wonder Land Plaza commercial complex, Shanghai Lingang XIKANG Health Management Center, community service centers, and the New Area Sports Center, providing a comprehensive and high-quality living experience for enterprise talents. We also have several notable cultural institutions such as the Maritime Museum, and the Shanghai Astronomy Museum. We're also developing a significant amount of greenspace in the area, such as the new garden down by the lake. We also have in Lingang a bar street being developed along Dishui Lake, where people can relax, have a drink, and socialize in the evenings.

The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses
Brandon McGhee

A rooftop view of Lingang's developing downtown waterfront area. Notice in the left and right sides of the photo, a lot more development is still underway.

Looking to the Future: More Expats, More Businesses

Lingang is not just resting on its laurels; the area has ambitious plans for future growth. This includes increasing the number of foreign residents by 10 percent annually and continuing to attract top-tier international businesses. The area's strategic policies and special services, such as the ability for innovative companies to apply for up to five-year residence permits, demonstrate a commitment to fostering a welcoming and supportive environment for expats.

The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses
Brandon McGhee

A partial representation of the downtown Lingang development plan complete with parks, and waterways, as well as an under construction central business area.

If you're interested in venturing on the tour of Lingang area, have face time with some of the government officials down there, as well as a free lunch (why not!), check out the schedule below. And... the registration QR code? Scroll up to the beginning of this article in case you missed it!

The Lingang new area in Shanghai is booming, and seeking foreign businesses
Brandon McGhee

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