Ancient Maqiao Town emerging as a power base for burgeoning AI industry
Minhang District's historic Maqiao Town has become another industrial arena for the "dark horses" of the artificial intellgence industry.
LeeKr Technology's workshops at Maqiao AI Innovation Experimental Zone produce brake-by-wire products enough for nearly 300,000 cars each year. It counts several leading Chinese automakers among its clients.
Designorder Technology, a company focusing on AI industrial software development, has also been providing advanced software solutions to auto equipment and aviation companies, as well as European robot manufacturing giants KUKA and ABB, in the AI innovation experimental zone.
Su Ganting, co-founder of LeeKr Technology, said that the company has performed "beyond his expectations."
The company was founded in August 2021 and completed its first round of financing in 2022 for 200 million yuan (US$28.98 million). Its advanced manufacturing center opened in the middle of the same year. This year, mass production of its new-generation hydraulic decoupling brake-by-wire system will start.
By-wire technology, a key component in self-driven automobiles, has become an essential technology that tech companies must pass through as new-energy and self-driven vehicles enter their leap development period. According to estimates, foreign-funded companies control more than 90 percent of the current by-wire chassis market.
However, some domestic auto parts suppliers are breaking through, and LeeKr Technology is one of them. Its fully hydraulic decoupling by-wire two-box (DHB+ESC) and one-box (IHB) brakes have been mass-produced in parallel product layouts.
"The new-energy vehicle industry is growing at a breakneck pace. We've put its key component into production and secured orders from a number of major domestic automakers," said Su. "What we're doing right now is expanding our manufacturing capacity and mass-producing more products."
Designorder Technology, a company founded in 2020, chose industrial software development as its racetrack. It offers advanced computer-aided drafting software to its industrial clients by combining AI, digital twin and CloudNative technologies.
"Previously, an engineer would complete one draft per day. They can now complete 10 drafts in a single day using our design software, increasing efficiency by 10 times," Designorder Technology's founder and CEO Wu Yongrong said.
A firm grasp of sound technologies enabled the company to earn tens of millions of yuan in revenue and gain the approval of the capital market. It, too, has completed its first round of funding.
The Maqiao AI Innovation Experimental Zone, which houses the two companies, has become an AI industrial highland for Minhang.
At the closing ceremony of the 2019 World Artificial Intelligence Conference, the AI innovation experimental zone of Maqiao was named as one of the four Shanghai AI integrated innovation parks.
The zone is the largest and is capable of producing complete application scenarios. It is among Shanghai's first batch of 26 specialty industrial parks.
According to Wu Liang, general manager of the Maqiao AI Innovation Experimental Zone Co, the innovation zone has attracted over 2,000 companies.
The innovation zone also assists businesses in adapting technologies to application scenarios by deploying smart service robots in public service centers, seniors' homes, Pujiang Country Park and Qibao Town to provide tourist guiding, entertainment, accompanying, transportation and road sweeping services.
Furthermore, the innovation zone has established a special foundation worth approximately 300 million yuan (the state and government-funded capital amounting to 125 million yuan) for supporting AI companies in the park.