Shenzhen sets the benchmark in industry’s transition

THE HINDUAviation and aerospace is part of Shenzen’s industry 4.0 embrace. Photo: Atul Aneja

It has once again emerged as the symbol of the Middle Kingdom’s next cycle of industrialisation.

The icon of China’s dramatic rise as the workshop-of-the-world after Deng Xiaoping launched his reforms in 1979, Shenzhen, once again has emerged as the symbol of the Middle Kingdom’s next cycle of industrialisation — coalescing a robust eco-system of hi-end growth.

In the middle of a jungle of high rises in the city’s business district, DJI, a global leader in drones, captures some of the spirit and confidence in Shenzhen’s drive to turn around China from a low-to-medium end manufacturer to a heavyweight capable of churning out cutting-edge products.

“Our rise has been dramatic”
“We began only in 2006, but our rise, within the space of a decade has been truly dramatic,” says Oliver Wang, the private-owned company’s public relations director. In a gleaming 12th floor office, where the radiance of freshly arranged Phalaenopsis, enhances the quiet elegance of the white and grey interiors, Mr. Wang explains the rapid evolution of DJI. “The Phantom-1 was our first offering, which was more of a prototype that established that our drones can fly. Once this was done, there was no looking back,” he observed.

Some of DJI’s latest drones can carry heavy professional cameras, popular with moviemakers who earlier had to pay through their nose to take aerial shots from helicopters. There are other drones which fly low to spray crops with pesticides, 40-60 times faster than what can be accomplished manually.

‘Moving towards future industries’

“We are moving towards the future industries — the examples include a combination of biotech and hi-tech,” says Yao Weizhi, Deputy Director General in the Shenzhen Foreign Affairs Office. “The point is we do not want to do biotech and hi-tech separately. The key is integration. When we integrate bio-engineering, hi-tech and couple it with Big Data, the whole ecosystem will change, generating massive value and opportunities,” he observes.

Unsurprisingly the growth of the biotech industry in Shenzhen has been explosive. “Take, for example this company called BGI. They started from Beijing, but soon realised that there future was in Shenzhen, if they had to expand,” explains Mr.Yao. “Now every year, they have expanded so rapidly that they are the largest company in the world undertaking genetic sequencing.”

Aiming to be world-leader

The scale of Shenzhen’s ambition to be a world-leader in some of the advanced industries is jaw-dropping. “In the United States, Information Technology is concentrated the San Francisco bay area, biotech is more towards Boston and San Diego. But in Shenzhen we are strong in both. So we want to develop a much bigger model, and develop a much larger industry,” observes Mr.Yao.

The “miracle” of Shenzhen, as with some of the other vibrant economic hubs of China, would not have been possible without imaginative governmental support. Between 2005 and 2013, funding for Research and Development rose four fold, reaching $191 billion. The government-run Thousand Talents Programme has yielded repatriation of Chinese scientists on an industrial scale. Consequently, China has acquired an uncanny ability to quickly absorb high-end technologies, which may have been developed overseas. That then becomes the basis for pioneering research.

Altering DNA of human embryos

In Guangzhou — part of the growth cluster that includes Shenzhen and Hong Kong — scientists at the Sun Yat-sen university have managed to alter the DNA of human embryos using a novel gene-editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9, Reuters had reported earlier. The expertise puts China on the doorstep of locating and replacing genetic defects.

Shenzhen’s next stage of industrial development is tuned with the industry 4.0 model, pioneered by Germany, and the country’s 13th five-year plan. Taking the cue from Industry 4.0 model, the Chinese have decided to focus on 10 top industries to power the next stage of their development. These include advanced IT including internet-of-things, robotics, bio-medicine, aerospace and aeronautics, new energy vehicles, and new materials.

Emphasis on green development

In Shenzhen, Kevin Guo, Director of the Commission of Development and Reform pointed out that the local government had “attached great importance to green development and also energy conservation,” which includes a strong focus on electric cars. “Shenzhen has got the largest fleet of new energy vehicles in the world,” he stressed. Dr. Guo pointed to BYD, the Shenzhen-based car maker, which sold 62,000 electric vehicles in China last year. It hopes to double that number this year. In 2015, the sale of electric cars in China had reached 188,000, significantly ahead of the U.S., where 116,000 units had been sold.
Source - The hindu

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