Shenzhen now world number one for tech innovations

Shenzhen now world number one for tech innovations

Shenzhen now world number one for tech innovations

Graduates and expat innovators are flocking to Shenzhen for its growing reputation as China’s hub of tech innovation.

Beijing is way ahead when it comes to top-flight universities, but graduates from all over China and the West are choosing Shenzhen as the place to float their innovative ideas. The city’s companies file more international patents than the UK or France, and the products are high quality and totally original. Shenzhen’s Nanshan district is crammed with 125 listed companies, with their combined market valuation at around $400 billion. Research and development is the name of the game, with private companies investing significant amounts in the sector.

Shenzhen’s advantage over the majority of other Chinese cities is its unconventional attitude towards rules and regulations in this totally regulated country. From the time in the 1980s when the city was opened up to reform from within, non-authorised deals with non-Chinese mainland companies were made, helping form the city’s legal framework which protects foreign firms. In addition, innovators found better ways to do things, even if they weren’t permitted. When it all worked like a dream, the Communist overlords took the credit, but no-one cared. Nowadays, the city is a hub of innovative firms and entrepreneurial start-ups, all taking innovation to new heights and attracting top international tech talent to carry on the good work.

Local Chinese companies which once relied on imported know-how are now marketing their own methods and inventions. As a result, multinationals have people on the ground keeping an eye out for the latest trends, and inventive entrepreneurs are arriving in droves to expand the city’s advanced manufacturing sector. Most importantly, Shenzhen is welcoming open innovation in order to attract buyers who used to disdain the typical Chinese products as being unfit for the purpose or simply poor imitations of the Western originals. Copycats there may well have been, but the present day open innovators are concentrating on a one stop service from idea to prototype to testing to manufacture and marketing as an affordable, quality item. There’s a certain amount of disdain about Silicone Valley, saying it’s obsessed with the first world, but Shenzhen’s innovators provide solutions for the masses in vital sectors such as preventing pollution, healthcare and even banking.

One result of Shenzhen’s attitude towards innovation is an extraordinary product – an incredibly thin, foldable full-colour touchscreen display. Its inventor knew the city was the place because of its integrated systems, as every aspect of the invention from materials through device and circuit design were totally innovative. Manufacture involved custom-built robots, over 600 patents, and some $280 million in investment. The city is also a world leader in hardware, with its experts proudly saying Silicon Valley is now years behind Shenzhen in hardware developments. For would-be expat entrepreneurs in the tech sector, it seem this Chinese city is a dream come true in which anything can and does happen to make an idea into a world-beating reality.

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