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High-tech district draws record capital

China Daily Global Updated: 2019-09-17

Zone's internet of things-related companies in Wuxi have grown nearly 400 percent since 2009

The Wuxi National Hi-tech District, also known as the WND, in Jiangsu province embraces the internet of things as a new engine of development.

With the World IoT Expo 2019's hosting in Wuxi earlier this month, the WND is in the world's spotlight.

As a national demonstration zone for sensor network innovation and a forerunner of the Chinese IoT industry, the district in Wuxi generated more than 160 billion yuan ($22.57 billion) in business revenue from the sector in 2018, accounting for more than 60 percent of the city's total. It has become an influential hub of the industry nationwide, local officials said.

Established in 1992, the WND has developed into a technological innovation center and exerted great influence on the surrounding areas to promote industrial innovation, according to Wang Jinjian, vicemayor of Wuxi and Party secretary of Xinwu district, home to the WND.

In the past decade, the district has made efforts to improve local companies' production efficiency, promote innovation and reconstruction of the industrial chain and put more IoT applications into practice.

When the WND was approved to build a national sensor network innovation demonstration zone a decade ago, the IoT industry was still in its infancy. The district pioneered the new industry and attracted professionals and investments from China and abroad.

Local authorities accelerate the integration between IoT technology and the traditional manufacturing industry, focus on the transformation and upgrading of manufacturing and promote tech applications to the sectors of smart city and intelligent medical services.

In the past decade, the WND has launched 125 national and provincial demonstration application projects, covering intelligent environmental protection, intelligent medicine, intelligent transportation and energy sectors.

The number of IoT-related companies has grown to 1,152 from 242 a decade ago. The companies complete the industrial chain with sensing equipment design and manufacture, data collection and transmission, intelligent applications and services sectors.

The output value of the IoT industry at the WND has developed at double-digit growth for years.

"IoT is an important part of the digital economy and provides key support for transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing industry," Wang said.

Tancheng IoT, a company based in the WND focusing on upgrading traditional transportation, began adding GPS and other sensing equipment on vehicles to its product portfolio in 2008. The vehicle driving tracks and transportation statuses will be uploaded into a system. After big data analysis, the system helps truck drivers obtain orders and plan their routes. The company launched an initial public offering in 2016 and has become one of the leaders in the industry.

The WND's IoT industry has become a development highland nationwide. The district plans to reinforce its position in the industry with increased international influence, Wang said.

To date, the WND has gathered leading IT companies, including Alibaba, which launched the Feifeng platform in the district, focusing on big data and cloud computing; Chinese home appliance maker Haier, which set up China's first radio frequency identification industrial chain; and Shanghai Huahong Integrated Circuit, which invested $10 billion to build a manufacturing center to develop intelligent chips and microcontroller chips.

National scientific research institutes and innovation platforms from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University and Shanghai Jiaotong University have become involved in the district.

To attract global innovative companies and professionals, the district said in May it would invest 500 million yuan in a human resources fund, 600 million yuan in a technology fund and 10 billion yuan in an IoT special fund every year.

At the same time, authorities plan to add professional service teams, launch a promotion mechanism for innovation demonstration projects and offer experts brought in to the district "green channels "for medical services, schooling and housing.

The WND also set up an IoT industry research institution in 2009 to help solve financing problems, which has served more than 270 small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises.

photoliClockwise from top: The Wuxi National Hitech District in Jiangsu province pioneers the internet of things industry. The district boasts a widespread transportation network. A national IoT research and development center at the district. Photos provided to China Daily