“Shanghai has an abundant pool of innovative and high quality talent that is highly receptive to diverse ideas. There is strong demand for this talent from both startups and corporations.”
Already one of the world’s top financial and shipping hubs, Shanghai has goals to strengthen its position in technology and innovation. Heavily impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, the city has ambitious plans to recover. In November 2022, Shanghai released a blueprint to develop five "future industries:” health, smart devices, energy, space, and new materials. The goal is for the output value of these industries to reach $71 billion by 2030. To achieve this target, Shanghai will build a research institute, establish several technology colleges, and develop 15 innovation centers. It also plans to build 70 hydrogen refueling stations and up to five R&D platforms. Several tech zones have already been built, including the Zhangjiang, Lingang, and Zizhu tech zones.
In February 2023 Shanghai revealed plans for the Grand neoBay Sci-Tech Innovation Park, which will house 1,000 high-tech enterprises by 2025. Construction began on the Suzano China Innovability Hub in Zhangjiang Science City in November 2022. More than 80 new high-tech projects were launched in Shanghai's Pudong New Area in February 2023. Four Fortune 500 companies are launching new high-tech projects in the area. It will also be home to the global headquarters of chip design company SmartSens Technology. Shanghai plans to promote three priority sectors: low-carbon businesses, the metaverse, and smart devices. The city aims to expand the market value of these sectors to more than $224 billion by 2025.
The SIA2023 20th Shanghai Smart Factory Exhibition and Shanghai International Industrial Automation and Robotics Exhibition take place each year. The Asia Cybersecurity Innovation Summit 2023 was held here in January 2023.
Ecosystem by the Numbers
The Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone is home to more than 1,400 Life Sciences companies and 330 national R&D institutions. Qingpu is a Life Sciences center with a focus on innovative medicines, clinical nutrition, diagnostics, and medical devices. CBC Healthcare Infrastructure Platform is investing $137 million to develop eight manufacturing facilities and two R&D facilities in Qingpu. Cell-therapy products company Neukio Biotherapeutics raised a $50 million Series A-1 funding in September 2022. SGS China bioanalysis center opened in February 2023.
AI, Big Data & Analytics
Operated by the Shanghai Supercomputer Center and launched in February 2023, the Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Public Computing Service Platform offers companies and organizations cloud-based computing capabilities. The platform is part of Shanghai's plan to establish a global innovation center focused on AI, Life Sciences, and chips. In January 2022 SenseTime opened one of Asia's largest AI data centers in Shanghai's Lin-gang Free Trade Zone.
There are approximately 160 Gaming startups in Shanghai. In February 2023, the government of Jingan district signed a deal with the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association, China’s Gaming industry trade body, to establish an esports industry research institute. Edward Gaming plans to construct an esports stadium in Shanghai. With an initial investment of $720 million, the arena will be one of the largest projects in the global esports industry. In 2022, Riot Games announced the upgrade of its Shanghai R&D Center to focus on developing new mobile games for China.
Reasons to Move Your Startup to Shanghai
Access to Funding
Shanghai boasts approximately 5,000 angel investors and associations and 417 VC organizations, including global leaders such as Sequoia Capital, IDG Capital Partners, and GSR Venture. The China Venture Capital Finance Organization helps connect startups with investors. The Shanghai government also supports startups’ R&D, including facilitation of cross-border financial services, funding, and help with environmental assessments. With foreign investment hitting a record high of $24 billion in 2022, the city leads the nation in attracting foreign R&D investment.
Shanghai is a leading financial hub with some of the best financial infrastructure in the world. Besides conventional exchanges, the city has set up a cross-border yuan payment system and the Shanghai Clearing House, which supports the stability of financial markets. The city’s 2023 economic development goals include the construction of the Pilot Free Trade Zone and further development of the STAR Market on the Shanghai Stock Exchange to support the development of high-tech enterprises.
Shanghai is the largest distribution center for imported consumer goods in China, with more than 40% of goods now entering the country through Shanghai ports. The city is also the first choice for international brands entering the Chinese market thanks to its huge market consumption capacity. It has boasted the busiest port in the world for 13 consecutive years, with a container throughput exceeding 47.3 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2022.
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