Beijing speeds up to build international tech innovation hub
  ·  2024-04-30  ·   Source: Xinhua News Agency


This photo taken on April 25 shows a scene at the release of scientific and technological achievements during the opening ceremony of the 2024 Zhongguancun Forum (ZGC Forum) annual conference in Beijing, capital of China (XINHUA)

The 2024 Zhongguancun Forum (ZGC Forum) annual conference in Beijing has garnered global attention, and showcased China's strides in science and technology, underlining its continued commitment to openness and cooperation.

Themed "Innovating for a Better World," the forum drew scientists, entrepreneurs and investors from over 100 countries and regions, and held some 120 events such as conferences, technology transactions and competitions in the past five days.

Known as "China's Silicon Valley," Zhongguancun in northwestern Beijing has attracted over 300 multinationals to set up their regional headquarters and research centers. Beijing houses nearly 100 colleges and universities and over 1,000 scientific research institutions.

The ZGC Forum, founded in 2007 with its enduring focus on innovation and development, has evolved into a national-level open innovation platform and an international forum over the years.

Being at the forefront of cultivating new quality productive forces in China, Beijing is expected to bring broad opportunities for the world in sci-tech innovation cooperation, investment in emerging high-tech industries and technology transfers, according to Jane Yang, managing partner of Ernst & Young Beijing Office.

Innovation hub

"After we finished the roadshow during this year's forum, we received more than 20 cooperation intentions from investors, representatives of industrial parks and intellectual property partners," said Wang Yujing, a staffer of Beijing Boruikang Technology Co., Ltd.

During the forum's international advanced technology competition, the company showcased its self-developed brain closed-loop feedback system, which offers electrical stimulation nerve therapy with reduced trauma, securing the runner-up position.

The competition exemplifies Beijing's efforts in promoting technology transfer and encouraging entrepreneurship. Wang said that the ZGC Forum offers a platform to bolster its brand recognition in the medical equipment industry.

Liu Debing, head of Zhipu AI, recounted the company's early days in 2019 when large language models (LLMs) were not yet widely known. Although the company had been unsuccessful in securing an investment, the administrative commission of Zhongguancun Science Park offered Liu's team a rent-free office space for three months to kickstart their initial development phase. Today, the company has evolved into a leading LLM unicorn in China.

According to a report released at the forum, Beijing is home to 114 unicorn companies, accounting for nearly one-third of the country's total, with an estimated value of $522.8 billion.

In the field of cutting-edge science and technology, Beijing boasts about 43 percent of the country's top talents in artificial intelligence. The city is home to nearly half of the country's academicians from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and the number of scientific researchers is over 550,000.

Better life

At the ZGC Forum's exhibition area, a 1.65-meter-tall humanoid robot grabbed the attention. It is capable of stable navigation on gravel and snow terrains, climbing up and down stairs, and lifting heavy objects. According to Zhang Liang, a senior manager of Robot Era Technology Co., Ltd. based in Beijing, the robot's core components such as joint modules and dexterous hands can adapt to algorithms more efficiently for enhanced flexibility and precision in actions.

"Humanoid robots can be used for sorting, carrying and crafting work in the manufacturing sector and have the potential to contribute to health care and other fields," Zhang said. "Tens of thousands of households can enjoy the convenience brought by humanoid robots in the future."

This year's forum underscored the importance of facilitating scientific and technological innovation to drive social progress, improve people's wellbeing, and boost sustainable development.

"Science and technology is the solution for medicine, aging people, hunger and climate change," said Aaron Ciechanover, an Israeli biologist who won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

A 300-megawatt F-class heavy-duty gas turbine finishing final assembly was one of the major scientific and technological achievements unveiled at the forum. The machine is generally fueled by natural gas and its energy efficiency can reach 55 percent, higher than 35 percent to 46 percent of the traditional thermal power, according to Mo Jingfei, a staffer of China United Gas Turbine Technology Company.

"A single machine is expected to generate about 450,000 kWh electricity per hour, equivalent to one-eighth of the average hourly electricity consumption of residents in Beijing," said Mo, adding that it can also contribute to matching users' power needs through a peak-shaving mechanism.

"Playing a leading role in the global green shift, China not only promotes innovation but also pays attention to addressing relevant social impacts," said Irene Pivetti, honorary president of the World Green Design Organization.

Fostering international cooperation

"I hope that ZGC Forum can continue to enhance the international technology connection and invite global experts," said Kai-Fu Lee, chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, adding that the world should regard Zhongguancun as innovative as Silicon Valley.

The P4 China-UK Precision Medicine Innovation Center officially went into operation in Beijing on Saturday. The center aims to promote cooperation between China and Britain in the field of life sciences, especially in the collaborative innovation of precision medicine.

Rahul Agarwal, a counselor of the British Embassy in Beijing, said that in addressing challenges in global health, Britain and China have carried out long-term and in-depth exchanges and cooperation. The diplomat expressed hopes that the bilateral cooperation will build a healthier and fairer world for future generations.

Arnout Jacobs, president of Springer Nature Greater China, said it facilitates a platform that gathers global experts in Beijing and contributes to quality scientific research.

"I can see that China is really open to the world and wants to collaborate, and we need to work with people of different expertise to tackle global challenges," he added.

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