Chengdu Hi-Tech launches “Minshan Action” Plan, the first list of pioneering industries worthy of investment

Chengdu Minshan Action Plan

Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone held a press conference on January 21 during which it released the Minshan Action Plan (“Action Plan”) and a list of the first batch of top-ranking industries worthy of investment. The conference was held both online and offline, and was attended by CAS academician Wei Yuquan (Sichuan University), Acatech academician Lei Xianzhang, officials from Science & Technology Department of Sichuan Province, officials from Chengdu Bureau of Science and Technology, representatives of the alliance of 16 key institutions of higher education specializing in engineering (e.g. Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Tongji University), representatives of renowned venture capital firms (e.g. Shenzhen Capital Group, Northern Lights Venture Capital, Innoangel Fund, and SAIF Partners), and such prominent international agencies as AmCham China, British Chamber of Commerce in China, EU Chamber of Commerce in China and LinkedIn China.

At the press conference, the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone released the pioneering action plan, openly announcing the future setup of 50 new-type R&D institutions for five years to come. Totaling RMB30 billion in investment, the Action Plan is expected to vitalize and give a further boost to regional technological innovation. After that, a list of 14 pioneering emerging sectors was released, covering power semiconductor, optoelectronic integration, terahertz, cell engineering, industrial internet, etc. An R&D team in the list can get access to a support fund of up to RMB100 million and there will be no such cap for very important research entities.


Pioneering Market Mechanism Stimulates Innovation

A new research entity is a self-contained legal entity that focuses its effort on technological innovation, talent development, and business incubation. Generally, a new research entity features more than one investor, modern corporate management, market-oriented operating, and flexible employment policy.

Introduced by the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone to the benefit of new-type R&D institutions, the Minshan Action Plan opens its arms to the top-notch technological innovation teams or institutions at home and abroad. With the Action Plan in place, the policymakers seek to provide the new-type R&D institutions with a well-managed platform that involves multiple investors that support one another. Targeting technology commercialization, the Action Plan will power the leading industries and play an innovative exemplary role.

“The Minshan Mountain, located in northern Sichuan, has a mountain range running about 500 kilometers. There’re lots of highlands and high peaks. We call our plan “Minshan Mountain” because at present we face a bottleneck in innovative programs. Metaphorically, we have “highlands”, but no “high peaks”. We use the phrase primarily to demonstrate our determination to complement the “highlands” with “high peaks,” said a principal of the Party Affairs Committee of the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone.

The Action Plan sets a series of goals for five years to come. The Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone will invest RMB30 billion in 50 new-type R&D institutions, including at least RMB5 billion in science & technology, at least RMB5 billion in incubators, and RMB10 billion in new economy-targeting VC fund. The Action Plan is expected to attract private capital investment of RMB10 billion. Focusing on three economic pillars of the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone (i.e. electronics & IT, biology, and novel economy), the entities address the bottlenecks that choke market segments, build shared technology platforms and contribute to technology commercialization. Through the entities, the stakeholders will do their best to offer opportunities to 10,000+ various professionals, including 6,000+ with a master’s degree or higher. The goals also include the erection of 50+ shared technology platforms and the incubation of 300+ innovative firms, 50+ out of which are valued at at least RMB100 million.


Full Support for Major R&D Entities

The press conference saw the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone release an official list of 14 top-ranking pioneering industries, including power semiconductor, cell engineering, terahertz, optoelectronic integration, and other research institutes.

Take the terahertz program for example. Centering on the core technology of terahertz communication, engineering, and commercialization, the program aims to erect an open technology platform for developing, testing, and verifying terahertz applications. It addresses such technological difficulties as high power output, high bit rate modulation, and reduced complexity baseband while exploring high-performance terahertz RF devices, high bit rate baseband chips, and communications systems.

Reporters learned that the pioneering research entities on the list are supposed to be technologically robust, highly industrialized, well experienced and well-organized firms. Based on technological strength, technological platform scale, and the prospect of commercialization, the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone will grade the firms either A or B in order to provide a support fund of up to RMB100 million and up to RMB50 million, respectively. There’s no cap in support funds for very important new R&D programs.

In addition, the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone will provide support in the form of facilities and tech incubators. It is reported that earlier, two innovation-promoting entities, Jingrong Hub and Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park, have set apart a total of 40,000 m2 in space for a cluster of new-type R&D institutions. As time passes, 300,000+ m2 in space will be further allocated in Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park to set up a cluster of new-type R&D institutions. In principle, each program is entitled to up to 3,000 m2 for the use of office.

Meanwhile, it is the plan of the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone to set up professional business incubators so as to provide general facilities in fiscal, legal, market, human resources, technological, and financial services. Jingrong College is also one of the initiatives that tutor startup and incubate enterprises. The incubators will also include the new-type R&D institutions in a local graded business incubation system, dubbed “Golden Panda”, which offers favorable policies in human resources, technological innovation, fintech, and other industry bonuses.


New-type R&D institutions Stimulate Regional Innovation

A few dozen representatives and specialists of top-notch venture capital firms also appeared at the press conference. It is reported that in order to put the pioneering research entities on the right track, the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone invited the top 10 investment companies and the relevant technology specialists to analyze the programs, giving advice on strict policy-making procedures and enhanced market orientation.

Zhang Jian, vice president of Shenzhen Capital Group said in a speech: “As a keystone of fin-tech, venture capital firms link technology up with the market. We have the conviction that advanced innovative programs will come into being thanks to the support of the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone. We’ll follow up with the programs and likely invest more in Chengdu for the future. We’ll get deeply involved in the enterprise of the local new-type R&D institutions.”

Earlier, quite a lot of new research institutes and platforms specializing in leading-edge technologies had settled in the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone, including Tsinghua University 3D-model Mixed Reality Technology Research Center, Chengdu Frontier Medical Technology Center, and UESTC International Innovation Center.

Last November, Chengdu Wesker Biomedicine, founded by Wei Yuquan, CAS academician and director of West China Hospital-affiliated National Biotherapy Lab, succeeded in capturing RMB300 million in Series A Financing which was invested in vaccine clinical trials and production lines. The incubator behind Wesker is no other than Chengdu Frontier Medical Technology Center, a new research entity set up by the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone and Sichuan University. Wesker is valued at RMB5 billion in the 10th month from incubation.

“Currently we’ve entered into a sound partnership with the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone which assists us extensively in the cause. We crave to carry on with the relationship with other pioneering entities in order to achieve new breakthroughs in therapies and new drugs,” CAS academician Wei Yuquan said at the conference.

Promoting the growth of new-type R&D institutions is currently on the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone’s must-do list. By recruiting top-notch scientists from prominent universities and research academies on a large scale, the policymakers crave to foster new-type R&D institutions with talents and bolster the innovative segments. The Directives on a Technological Innovation-driven Prosperous Economy, along with a series of other policies has been issued as robust support for meta-innovation centers and new-type R&D institutions. To this day the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone is home to six important national labs, 20 CAS/CAE institutes. By 2020, it has added to the list 26 technologists of national importance, 67 of provincial importance, 1,006 innovation teams, 10,000+ high-tech companies, and 212.7 effective invention patents per 10,000 people.

“We hope to take this opportunity to exploit as many innovation resources as possible from universities and research academies at home and abroad. We long to foster new-type R&D institutions and industrial technology innovators. We long to help them master core technologies that support industrial and regional development. We expect them to launch proprietary, controllable and international market-leading products,” said the principal of the Party Affairs Committee. He pledged to cling fast to the long-pursued mission of technology and industrialization and make regional innovation updates a long-sought central goal. He also delineated the scenario of an inexhaustible source of development formed by the industrial chain in combination with innovation.