How Tencent activates the digital economy in Chengdu with its “technology + culture” strategy


Tencent in Chengdu

In recent years, Chengdu has made the development of a new economy and the cultivation of new dynamic energy a strategic choice to promote the digital transformation of the city. It is stepping up to build the most suitable city for the development of the new economy. As the main site of new economic development in Chengdu, Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone focuses on 5G communications and artificial intelligence, digital culture and innovation, big data, cybersecurity, and other new economy industries to accelerate the construction of the new economy vitality zone in Chengdu.

At present, Chengdu Hi-tech Zone has gathered more than 80,000 new economy enterprises and cultivated 203 gazelle companies and 5 unicorns. Among them, Tencent, one of the largest internet service providers in China and one of the top 500 companies in the world, has been working with Chengdu Hi-tech Zone for more than 10 years.

In the internet audio-visual and digital culture and innovation, Chengdu Hi-tech Zone has gathered more than 600 key enterprises. The industry added value of RMB 36.5 billion in 2019, a 31% increase year-on-year, accounting for 25% of Chengdu city. In the first half of 2020, 90 key enterprises have achieved revenue of RMB 22.08 billion, an increase of 50% year-on-year.

On August 20, 2020, the Chengdu Municipality and Tencent signed a strategic cooperation agreement on new cultural creation and smart cities. The first national functional headquarters of Tencent – a new cultural and creative headquarters project, was settled in Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone. It focuses on developing new cultural and creative businesses such as games, e-sports, animation, video, and cultural tourism.

Behind this big move is the historical connection between Tencent and Chengdu for more than a decade. The relationship between Tencent and Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone goes way back to 2008. Over the past decade, Chengdu has become increasingly important in the strategic map of Tencent.


Chengdu has become an important strategic business base for Tencent

► In May 2008, after comparing several major cities in China, Tencent invested in Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone and established a wholly foreign-owned enterprise, Tencent Technology (Chengdu) Co.

► In February 2014, Tencent decided to set up its e-commerce southwest headquarters in Chengdu Hi-tech Zone.

► In 2015, Tencent’s mobile game, “Honor of Kings”, born in Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone, became a national hit. The mobile game has put Chengdu in an important position in the overall strategy of Tencent. Tencent continued to increase its investment in Chengdu in digital content, cultural and creative industries, and media, promoting the expansion of Chengdu’s visibility and influence in the global internet industry.

► In March 2017, Tencent WeStart (Chengdu) was officially put into operation.

► In 2017, the Tencent Global Partner Conference was held in Chengdu, and Chengdu again became the center of global attention. Ren Yu Xin, Chief Operating Officer of Tencent, said, “Tencent is very optimistic about Chengdu and is willing to plan long-term development based on Chengdu. We hope to build a game industry based on the ‘Honor of Kings’, integrating games and animation, making a film and television base in Chengdu, and creating a cluster similar to a cultural and creative town. Tencent also hopes to cooperate deeply with Chengdu in areas such as smart city, mobile payment, and the new economy.”

► By 2020, Chengdu has developed into an important strategic business base for Tencent in China. Tencent Chengdu has grown rapidly in recent years, with a staff size of 5,300 employees.


Helping the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem 

As the first national independent innovation demonstration zone in western China, Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone has been taking industrial cultivation as its “lifeline project” to optimize the business environment, cultivate innovative enterprise clusters, and promote innovation and entrepreneurship creation.

► In February 2017, Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone released the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Plan (2016-2020), proposing to set up an RMB 5 billion special fund for collaborative innovation, an RMB 5 billion special fund for innovation of large enterprises and groups, an RMB 5 billion special fund for leading talents. On top of that, a total of RMB 15 billion is invested over 5 years to drive innovation, attract global innovation and entrepreneurship resources, and strive to build a trillion-yuan-level innovation and entrepreneurship center.

Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone aims to gather 10,000 science and technology enterprises, have a total area of innovation and entrepreneurship carriers that expand more than 10 million square meters, authorize more than 5,000 new invention patents, have an output value of more than RMB 300 billion, and have more than 100 listed enterprises.

► In October 2018, the main venue of the 4th National Entrepreneurship-Innovation Week was presented in the Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone Jing Rong Hui for the first time, forming a national double innovation regional map with “Zhongguancun in the north, Shenzhen Bay in the south, Changyang Valley in the east and Jing Rong Hui in the west”.

In November of the same year, Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone held a conference on industry cultivation, releasing 18 new policies on industry cultivation, accelerating the construction of a gradient cultivation system focusing on seed-stage eagle enterprises, gazelle enterprises, and unicorns.

► Tencent Western Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (Tencent WeStart Chengdu) started its operation in 2017. After three years of development, in January 2020, Tencent WeStart (Chengdu) was awarded the 2019 “Star of JingRong Creation and Incubation” by the Chengdu Municipal People’s Government.

► By the end of 2019, the center had incubated 202 new economy enterprises, with 20 enterprises reaching annual revenue of more than RMB 5 million with a total valuation of the incubated projects exceeded RMB 6.24 billion and have recruited 135 talents.

“Through all the incubators we have operated in recent years, external enterprises continue to apply to our space, especially those from Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. This shows that this area is attractive to startups. It also shows how effective Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone is on creating a strong atmosphere for innovation and entrepreneurship,” said the representative of the Western Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center of Tencent.


Tencent National New Cultural and Creative Headquarters in Chengdu 

► On August 20, 2020, the Chengdu Municipality and Tencent signed a strategic cooperation agreement on new cultural creation and smart cities. Tencent’s first national functional headquarters, the New Cultural and Creative Headquarters project, was settled in Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone. Tencent will also fully participate in the Chengdu New Infrastructure Demonstration Project to help develop Chengdu’s technology industry.

According to the agreement, Tencent’s new cultural and creative headquarters project will be developing new cultural and creative businesses such as games, e-sports, animation, video, and cultural tourism. Relying on Tencent’s Honor of Kings IP, as well as Tencent’s platform traffic advantages of Tencent WeSpace and Tencent e-sports, Tencent will attract upstream and downstream enterprises in the industry chain such as IP operation, games and animation, e-sports operation and live streaming, and build Tencent’s new cultural and creative industrial ecosystem in Chengdu.

At the signing ceremony, Ma Huateng sent his “cloud blessing” through a video link. This cooperation between the two sides fully reflects the characteristics of “technology + culture” at work. Technology empowers the management; while culture shapes the soul. It is an important driving force for Chengdu’s innovation and development. It also coincides with Tencent’s strategic positioning.

“I believe this strategic cooperation will have a good leverage effect and achieve a win-win goal. We look forward to the joint efforts of both sides to build a more attractive digital Chengdu,” said Ma.


In the future, Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone will further strengthen the leadership of leading enterprises, increase the quality of science and innovation space, support “new infrastructure” projects, improve the cultivation system for enterprises, and attract well-known and high-growth enterprises to settle in Chengdu. Through the partnership between Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone and Tencent, Chengdu will become a new economic and dynamic city with global influences.