Innovative Binjiang: How a cozy riverside district nurtures China's Silicon Valley
The 2022 Silicon Valley elite salon and Silicon Valley talent week kicked off in the Binjiang District, also the Hangzhou National High-tech Industrial Development Zone in east China's Zhejiang Province on November 13, highlighting the region's pursuit of a magnet for global talents.
In Zhejiang, Hangzhou, the provincial capital and home to digital economy giant Alibaba, is known as the No.1 city in digital economy across the country. Among Hangzhou's 13 county-level regions, Binjiang District is at the forefront in the field.
Binjiang literally means "riverside", as it is located along the Qiantang River, Zhejiang's largest river known for its awe-inspiring tidal bore, hence the beautiful and leisurely name. However, its name only reveals one side of Binjiang District.
The district is the integrated administrative area between the former Binjiang and Hangzhou National High-tech Industrial Development Zone. In the riverside area on the south bank of the lower reaches of Qiantang River, one can not only enjoy the magnificent "largest tidal bore on earth", but also experience the cutting-edge digital technology innovation trends.
In Binjiang District, in addition to convenient digital life services, digital economy has moved from online to offline, especially in the traditional manufacturing sector. Nowadays, Binjiang has built a landmark industrial ecology featuring intelligent Internet of Things, smart manufacturing and digital health services. It's now a highland of digital economy development and smart manufacturing industry in the province, according to the Information Office of the People's Government of Hangzhou Binjiang District.
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, headquartered in Binjiang, is a veteran in manufacturing. The private firm, which started making cars more than 20 years ago, has made strides on the road of intelligent manufacturing in recent years. It has risen to be the only carmaker in the world with satellite communication and positioning, high-precision maps and navigation, automobile chips and full-stack self-research of software and hardware.
Auto upstart Leapmotor, established in Binjiang in 2015, has independently developed China's first car-scale AI intelligent driving chip with fully independent intellectual property rights in just seven years. It debuted on the Hong Kong stock market in September this year.
The acceleration of Geely and Leapmotor on the intelligent manufacturing track is inseparable from many high-quality R&D talents in its headquarters. Binjiang District has another name that sounds more modern: "Silicon Valley in Paradise".
Like Silicon Valley, the district attracts a large number of talents from all over the country, even the world, to pursue their dreams here.
Fan Yuan, founder of DAS-Security, a cybersecurity star enterprise, is one of them. After years in the U.S. Silicon Valley, Fan chose to return to China and settled in Binjiang. He started from scratch with a team of 10 people and only two small rooms. Now, the start-up has a 21-storey building in the company's name.
In just 15 years, DAS-Security has emerged from a nobody to a leading player among the top 500 global cybersecurity companies. It went public on the country's Science and Technology Innovation Board, also known as China's NASDAQ.
At a critical juncture in the early stage of Fan's entrepreneurship, the company was short of funds and denied bank loans due to lack of collateral. The capital on the books then was only enough for about one month's business operation.
Fortunately, Binjiang's talent office came to their aid by helping them ink the start-up's first venture capital project, thus tiding him over.
Standing on the top floor of DAS-Security's high-rise building, one can overlook the entire "Internet of Things Town" of Binjiang, where more than 1,400 high-tech enterprises gather in the town's core zone of 1.4 square km. Among them, 16 are listed companies.
Like Fan Yuan, many talents in these firms are beneficiaries of a talent-fostering program to support high-level professionals' innovation and entrepreneurship in Binjiang. Initiated in 2010, the program was the first of its kind in Zhejiang. By attracting talent inflows, the program seeks to introduce high-level technologies, and turn them into projects that would later grow into industries. In this way, Binjiang has gradually risen to be a booming tech incubator like Silicon Valley.
For people like Fan Yuan who are working in Binjiang, it is not only a place where they can make a mark in career development, but also a livable paradise. The industrial development in Binjiang is fast-paced, but life is as comfortable, healthy and natural as its district name suggests.
On the banks of the Qiantang River, several runways of different colors stretch for more than ten kilometers. Looking down from the sky, the colorful runways are laid out in order from west to east, like a dancing pentagram embedded in the riverbank. In addition, large and small parks are scattered all over the riverfront area, enabling locals easy access to the nature.
In addition to running tracks and parks, Binjiang deserves the "paradise" reputation for sports fans. It is the location of the main venues of the 19th Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou next year, including the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, Tennis Center Finals Hall and Binjiang District Stadium.
The three Asian Games venues, famous for their unique designs, are open for public use due to the postponement of the Games. Many sports and fitness venues offer a wide range of choices for people who want to get fit after work.
Home to a high-tech incubator and a livable environment, Binjiang is a unique place both suitable for rapid industrial development and a leisurely lifestyle as well.