Area builds up new economic drivers

By Yuan Shenggao| (China Daily)| Updated : 2018-05-11

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Policy initiatives, including an 'innovation coupon', support emerging industries, Yuan Shenggao reports.

The Weifang Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, a national economic development zone launched in 1991, has established a strong position among such zones in China over the past 20 years.

The zone ranked No 22 among 147 national-level development zones in terms of comprehensive development strength in 2017, an improvement on its ranking of No 23 in 2015.

The zone focused on deepening reform and promoting innovation in the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2010-15), vowing to continue to strengthen its economic position in China.

It has long been striving to maintain regional competitiveness. The zone has created an atmosphere in which staff members freely share opinions and turn ideas into reality in their daily work.

Over the past few years, the zone initiated a series of projects to create an ideal environment for both residents and businesses.

For instance, government officials are required to establish direct contact with businesses to help companies to solve problems in an effective manner. In addition to this commitment, efforts have been made to promote urban upgrades, as well as social and industrial development, to enhance security, quality of life and government service quality.

The zone has provided different types of support to businesses so they can be more focused on technological innovation.

Companies in the zone are provided with an "innovation coupon", a form of financial support, to reduce research and development costs.

In 2017, the zone lent a hand to support Shengrui Transmission's hybrid transmissions development projects by providing the company with the coupon. The coupon helped Shengrui to save significant R&D expenses, according to the company.

"The innovation coupon is a form of financial support provided to companies for free to encourage business innovation. We have been providing more support for more companies in recent years," said Chen Zhe, deputy director of Weifang Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone's technology bureau.

Chen said the innovation coupon is tailor-made based on companies' real life needs. It will help small and microenterprises to grow rapidly, help the zone to form an industrial cluster and promote industrial upgrading.

In return, companies in the zone are striving to provide strong support to the zone in the process of replacing old economic drivers with new ones.

Weichai Group is a heavy truck engine and component developer and manufacturer based in the zone. It sold 620,000 engines and achieved more than 220 billion yuan ($34.99 billion) in sales revenue in 2017. The company has identified new energy as a new sector to explore in the next few years.

Tan Xuguang, president of Weichai, who is also president of Shandong Heavy Industry Group, said that the latter is responsible for Weichai New Energy Industrial Park's construction. The park is a key project in promoting Shandong province's effort to replace old economic development drivers with new ones.

The industrial park is set to be the largest new energy motor production base, a world-leading hydrogen-power battery production base, a commercial vehicle new energy power train system production base, a world-leading new energy forklift production base, a light new energy commercial vehicle production base and a new energy visual reality innovation center, according to the local authorities.

Supported by big projects, leading companies and a premier business environment, the zone said it is confident about achieving outstanding results in promoting industrial upgrading and transformation.

Figures from the zone show that the industrial upgrading 13 projects of companies such as Shengrui and GoerTek, have been listed in provincial-level plans about replacing old economic growth drivers with new ones. Seventeen projects have been included in the first batch of 600 provincial-level key projects to promote the replacement of economic drivers.

The zone now has 337 big projects with total investment exceeding 200 billion yuan.

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