Boosting Innovation: Tech startups in southern China paving the way for innovation-driven economy
Turning focus to technology and innovation.Tech companies are sprouting up all over the southern Chinese region, specializing in emerging industries such as genomics and robotics. CGTN reporter Ge Yunfei visited the city of Shenzhen, to find out more about innovation-led growth.
No longer satisfied with being the world's factory, today's China aims to become an innovation powerhouse. And the country has delivered part of its promise in the tech hub of Shenzhen. BGI, headquartered in the southern city, is the world's largest center for genomics, the science of mapping and editing genomes. The institute provides over half of the world’s genomics data and research output, more than the total of Britain and the US – the two other leading countries in the field.
DU YUTAO VICE PRESIDENT, BGI GENOMICS "In 1999, China had little knowledge of this sector. We had to follow in the footsteps of other countries. But we gradually caught up, and now China is definitely a pioneer in genomics research."
In Guangzhou, another southern city, young engineers are trying to make the biggest change to the aviation industry since the era of the Wright Brothers. The world's first passenger drone, the EHang 184, made its first public flight in February. All passengers need to do is get into the small cabin and fasten their seat belts. The automated flight system takes over from there.
HU HUAZHI CEO, EHANG "Traditional flying vehicles cannot fly on their own, so there's still a long way to go before they can be used in daily commuting. But today's flights mean the scenes that we are used to seeing only in sci-fi movies are now very close to ordinary people."
The drone's maker EHang says the vehicle runs on electric batteries. It can carry one person weighing up to 100 kilograms at a time. The drone can cruise at an altitude of 500 meters, fly at a maximum speed of 100 kilometers per hour, and run up to 64 kilometers on a single charge.
GE YUNFEI GUANGZHOU "Wow, it's an insanely amazing ride. I'm really a bad singer, but now all I want to do is to sing I believe I can fly."
For startup entrepreneurs, China now offers better opportunities to turn innovative ideas into reality, especially in hardware-related industries.
WANG JIANJUN CEO, MAKEBLOCK "In the next era of hardware, China could be the front-runner. We're working on a new type of education using robotics. We've been the global leader from the beginning, because China has the advantage of owning the world's most comprehensive supply chain."
WAN GANG MINISTER OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY "In the past year we've seen some major innovations. New industry forms, like digital and sharing economies, are pioneers in the world. Public innovation is developing fast."
The brightest star in this wave of hardware startups, Shenzhen's DJI is the world's largest drone maker. Its president believes that if China wants to go further, it has to invest more in something basic.
ROGER LUO PRESIDENT, DJI "Nowadays, China's e-commerce and online payment industries play a vital role in the world. In these areas, Chinese companies are as good as their American counterparts. But I think China needs to invest more in basic science education. It is the key for China to go further and achieve more in the future."
At this year's National People's Congress, China vowed yet again to build an innovation-driven economy. Step by step, the country is turning words into reality. Ge Yunfei, CGTN, Guangzhou.