Xuhui acts to be ahead of the game in enticing top talent

The district has built apartment buildings along Huangpu River that will be rented at heavily subsidized prices to highly skilled professionals.
Xuhui acts to be ahead of the game in enticing top talent
Ti Gong

A 30-square-meter studio apartment, mainly for bachelors, costs 1,800 yuan (US$273) per month in rent.

Xuhui District pledged on Thursday to offer ideal conditions to lure professionals and entrepreneurs from across the world.

Fang Shizhong, the district director said the downtown district aims to develop itself into a "national entrepreneurship center" focusing on information technology and life science.

Talented workers from both home and abroad will be a key element of the plan — and the district will ensure a suitable platform and policies as well as providing accommodation to key staff to ensure its ambition is achieved.

"We will make sure they have the best stage to perform their skills and are living comfortably as well as offering supportive policies," he told a press conference.

As part of the efforts, a trial operation will be implemented to make it more convenient for overseas professionals working in Xuhui to enter and exit the country.

Green channels will be opened on various public services for top foreign talent in the district, Fang said. The district government said detailed policies on these trial services will be announced soon.

However, the promise of inexpensive accommodation  has already been partly brought about.

The first batch of about 2,000 low-rent apartments along the Huangpu River in Xuhui, known as the West Bund are ready to accommodate professionals — with the lowest rents at 1,800 yuan (US$273) in sharp contrast to the city's usual sky-high housing prices.

"My wife and two daughters finally don't need to squeeze into a studio with me," said Wang Haikun, a doctor on cell researches who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He is among the first batch of top talent to move into one of the apartments with two bedrooms on Longshui Road S.

"Many returning Chinese like Wang cite housing as one of their top concerns when deciding where they would like to work," said Chen Fengwei, deputy Party secretary with Institut Pasteur of Shanghai under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where Wang now works. Before that he had worked for the US Wistar Institute for five years after graduation.

Such highly skilled returning Chinese are called haigui, or "sea turtles" in China.

The talent apartment building, which is a five-minute walk to the West Bund, has a total of 2,021 flats, including studios, mainly for bachelors, two-bedroom apartments for families like Wang's and "loft rooms." Over 600 parking lots have been built.

A 60-square-meter two-bedroom apartment costs 4,500 yuan a month to rent, said Cao Lei, deputy director with the district's house management bureau.

Currently, only companies registered in Xuhui can apply to use the apartments for their employees. Applications from individuals and companies outside Xuhui aren't accepted, Cao said.

Furthermore, the district government will ask national laboratories, research centers and universities in Xuhui to open their research facilities and lab resources to the professionals, Fang said. Leading companies and universities are being encouraged to open more innovation parks for startup companies, he added.

Xuhui already has 60 such innovation and entrepreneurship parks, but Fang said he wanted more "international, professional and quality" parks and incubators. Microsoft and Google have opened incubator and entrepreneurship space for the startups, he said.

"Xuhui aims to become a national level quality entrepreneurship and innovation center by 2020," Fang added.

To achieve that goal, "innovation hubs" and "entrepreneurship belts" have been planned in the Caohejing, West Bund, Zizhu High-Tech Park and along the under-construction Metro Line 15, to bring in companies involved in information technology and life sciences as well as startups.

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