Weifang high-tech zone innovates to attract new business, projects

By Yuan Shenggao| (China Daily)| Updated : 2018-08-14

Print Print

Deals for 40 high-growth proposals, with a total investment value of 6.79 billion yuan, reached last month

Weifang Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone - located in central Shandong province - is taking dynamic measures to attract more innovative-oriented businesses and projects to the region, aiming to achieve high-quality economic growth in upcoming years, officials said.

Deals for 40 high-growth business projects were signed on July 4 in the zone. The total investment of the projects is about 6.79 billion yuan ($995 million), according to the zone.

As a key part of the Shandong Peninsula National Innovation Demonstration Zone, Weifang Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone has long been promoting an innovation-driven development model.

The total industrial output value of the zone increased 14.7 percent in the first five months of this year, against the same period last year, while the industrial output value of its high-tech industry during the same period was up 13.9 percent year-on-year.

To promote regional growth, the zone's authorities are supporting three key elements - leading industrial players, small and medium-sized enterprises and industrial clusters.

Leading players

Officials said that leading businesses in the zone are being encouraged to strengthen their cooperation with top research institutes, in order to enhance research and development capacity.

One example of this process is a new heavy-load commercial vehicle powertrain technology, developed by Weichai Group, the leading heavy truck engines and components manufacturer in China.

It was nominated to compete for the National Science and Technology Progress Award this year. The award is one of the top prizes devised by the State Council in recognition of scientific contributions made by both companies and individuals.

Weichai, which is fully supporting Shandong's efforts to replace old development drivers with new ones, has made huge investments in recent years in building up a new-energy power industrial park. It joined forces this year with the United Kingdom's solid oxide fuel cell supplier Ceres Power, to strengthen its position in the new energy sector.

Adding to the momentum for change is GoerTek - a producer of microphones, speakers, Bluetooth devices and wearable technology - which is also speeding up its construction of smart factories and its involvement in business upgrade projects.

SME development

Elsewhere, there is Shandong CAS Wanlong Electroacoustic Technology Co, a joint venture established by Weifang Wanlong Electric and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2016. The company focuses on developing thermoacoustic refrigerators which can save energy, reduce noise and extend the product's lifetime. Its total industrial output value is expected to reach 2.2 billion yuan in 2025, according to the company.

Encouraging the development of high-growth SMEs is seen as a key task of the zone's government in the economic upgrade progress, according to officials. The zone has developed specific support policies for individual companies - including Weifang Wanlong Electric and Hocao Automation Technology - aimed at fostering their development.

Shandong CAS Wanlong Electroacoustic Technology Co this year joined forces with the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry in the Chinese Academy of Sciences to launch a research institute to speed up its work on thermoacoustics - a type of energy generation using heat to create sound electricity - and the commercialization of that technology.

Officials said the zone had successfully attracted a large number of innovation-driven SMEs over the last few years, which is strongly boosting regional economic growth. Leading companies have done extraordinarily well, such as Nuorui Technology and Weifang Xingang Electronics, which in the current year is seeing its sales revenue growth rate hitting 100 percent year-on-year.

Looking ahead, the zone expects to become home to two companies with annual sales revenue of more than 100 billion yuan and eight companies with annual sales revenue of more than 10 billion yuan by 2020. By then, the high-tech industry is expected to contribute more than 80 percent to the overall industrial output value of the zone.

Industrial clusters

The zone's management committee has long been committed to building industrial clusters to support the regional economic upgrade.

Shengrui Transmission's 8-gear automatic transmissions products are acting as another magnet for the zone, attracting businesses along the manufacturer's industrial chain.

State-owned Shandong Hitech Innovation Group began construction of an industrial park for Shengrui in May 2016. The park is home to many of Shengrui's key suppliers, including Shaanxi Aerospace Power Hi-tech.

"Shengrui's control over its core technologies is a key reason for attracting premium projects," said Ma Wenquan, director of the zone's investment promotion bureau. Ma added that the zone had established a new model which had a snowballing dynamic, where one successful investor could attract a group of investors and a leading business could attract a group of leading businesses.

Ma also said the zone's management committee would continue to assist existing top companies based there to attract other businesses along the industrial chain to build local industrial clusters.

Weichai Group, for example, plans to invest 50 billion yuan to build one of the largest new-energy power development industrial parks in China - covering 333 hectares - by 2030. GoerTek, meanwhile, is set to construct a smart and virtual reality-powered production plant.

In a different sphere of operations, Sunshine Insurance Group plans to work with its partners from Israeli and the United States to develop a health city project. The company says it will invest 3 billion yuan to build a health-centered industrial park in the next few years.

Officials said the zone was also taking measures to attract more resources from home and abroad, and build more platforms to strengthen innovation capability. They added that the zone was focused on its efforts to help companies to obtain more resources to support their innovation efforts. With support from the zone, local companies have obtained 48.4 million yuan in funding from the provincial government in the year to date.