Specialized parks aim high to promote new ideas

Rich Zhu
Though it is small compared with other industrial parks in Shanghai, Zhangjiang AIsland has big ambitions.
Rich Zhu

IBM, Microsoft, Infineon and Alibaba are among several dozen overseas and domestic information technology giants that have set up regional headquarters or major research centers in the Zhangjiang AIsland.

It’s a new technology hub for artificial intelligence that opened last year in Shanghai. Though it is small — only 66,000 square meters — compared with other industrial parks in Shanghai, its ambitions are big.

AIsland park is among more than 20 new “themed” industrial parks in Shanghai, set up to create unique opportunities for industrial applications of cutting-edge technologies. They mainly focus on integrated circuits, biomedicine, artificial intelligence, aerospace, new materials and smart manufacturing.

The specialty parks are structured to attract investment environment and professional talent, strengthening the base of research and development. Many are establishing their own complete ecosystems.

“China’s AI industry is rising and has unlimited development potential,” said Chen Liming, chairman of IBM China. “This partnership with Zhangjiang allows IBM to bring our cloud and AI technologies and our industry expertise to industry and innovative startups.”

Opened in October, the company’s Watson Build AI Innovation Center, jointly set up by IBM and Zhangjiang, aims to provide a world-class collaborative platform to explore artificial intelligence applications and create an ecosystem based on IBM’s leading cloud and cognitive technologies.

The AIsland park now serves more than 500 firms in artificial intelligence and other high-tech sectors. Related services are provided, including patent bureaus and support for overseas professional talent working in Shanghai, local officials said.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk is another example of how Shanghai’s business and investment environment is contributing to progress in advanced fields.

Amazing performance 

The entrepreneur danced and gave out high-fives on a stage in Shanghai two weeks ago to mark the first delivered vehicles from the new US$2 billion Tesla electric-car factory here.

“The most amazing thing really is the incredible progress that has been made by the Tesla Shanghai team,” Musk said. “Several industrial parks contribute, directly or indirectly, to the Tesla factory, which requires a complicated industrial chain.

In Shanghai, automotive industrial parks in Lingang, Jiading and Jinqiao have attracted thousands of partners and suppliers working on connected and new-energy cars. Other industrial parks provide integrated circuitry, navigation equipment and new materials used in cars and in a host of consumer electronics and industrial devices.

China’s biggest integrated circuit industrial park is in Zhangjiang, covering chip design, manufacture, assembly and testing.

By 2025, revenue from Zhangjiang’s integrated circuit industry is forecast to 100 billion yuan (US$14.55 million), employing 100,000 people.

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