Category Archives: Innovation

GBA startup communities: an explainer

As the masterplan of turning the nine cities in Guangdong as well as Hong Kong and Macau into an integrated technology hub unfolds, incubators and accelerators have been springing up around the region, all rushing to gain a foothold in the rise of China’s Silicon Valley.

Incubators, in the Western script, are companies staffed by experienced investors and executives that help startups by providing them with professional training, working space and venture capital. Accelerators are basically doing the same job, but focused on scaling up existing business models. 

The landscape is rather different in China, where the central and local governments are dominant. Here, startup support services are established largely to facilitate the country’s economic development agenda laid down by the Party, and lines are always blurred in terms of the functions of incubators, accelerators and scientific laboratories.

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AI robot has IP rights, says Shenzhen court

Tencent has won a landmark legal case over copyright infringement. Or rather, it might be more accurate to say, one of its bots has.

The Shenzhen-based tech conglomerate’s AI news-writing software program, Dreamwriter, made history recently by becoming the first case of its kind in China to defend the copyright of a non-human. According to local media, no exact date was provided for the verdict. It was issued after a Chinese website specialising in online lending copied an article generated by Dreamwriter in August 2018. It was a commentary on the day’s trading in the Shanghai Stock Exchange, published on Tencent’s stock section of its news portal.

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Shenzhen adopts blockchain-based IDs

Shenzhen has become the first local government in the GBA to adopt a digital identity verification system based on blockchain technology.

Via the app, “iShenzhen”, local residents can apply for as many as 24 kinds of commonly used electronic IDs, including resident ID cards and household registration cards. The digital ID will be applicable to more than 100 frequently used services, such as applications for proof of no criminal record and birth registration. From next month, it will be extended business identification areas as well. 

Local officials were quoted as saying that the technology held out great advantages for user data security, ensuring that the digital ID can be trusted and traceable. This would meet the public’s “right to know and supervise,” and improve efficiency. 

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GBA’s big 3 designated top ‘creative cities’

The much-watched Chinese City Creativity Index has been released, with three GBA cities among the country’s top 10: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, and Nanjing.

Compiled by a team from Shenzhen University, the report also included a City Creativity Index for the 11 GBA cities, which scored the region higher than the national average in terms of its attractiveness as a cultural destination. 

Shenzhen’s score has steadily improved, and the city surpassed Hong Kong for the first time this year.

Part of the reason is that Shenzhen has the second-highest per-capita count of public libraries in China (behind Shanghai). On average, education expenditure accounts for a higher proportion than the other tier-1 cities, but entertainment expenditure accounts for a much lower proportion.

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Huawei building AI research platform

Huawei Technologies has launched the second phase of its Peng Cheng Cloud Brain. Powered by its Atlas 900 platform, an AI “training cluster” consisting of thousands of self-made AI processors under the Kunpeng and Ascend brands, the laboratory has been dubbed by state media as “nuclear reactors and space stations” in the field of artificial intelligence. Research will be applied to a range of fields such as computer vision, natural language processing, autonomous driving, transportation, healthcare and manufacturing.

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‘Science Cities’ rise in Guangdong

The Greater Bay Area’s response to the need for high-quality basic research is to build it, with four clusters of scientific institutions coming out of the ground in Guangzhou’s Nansha, Shenzhen’s Guangming, Dongguan’s Songshan Lake, and Zhongshan’s Cuiheng.

When it comes to technology, Guangdong has no worries about designing, building, and selling stuff. But there is a step before all of that in the tech industry’s value chain, and it is a step in which the province has traditionally been lagging. Basic scientific research is where Beijing and Shanghai have long had an edge, given the prevalence of their leading universities focused on scientific research. 

It’s not as if the province lacks in academic spirit or ambition. There are some well-established innovation hubs in Guangdong, such as Guangzhou’s “Science City”, which has some of the world’s biggest R&D-focused corporate names established in its Huangpu district, or Shenzhen’s Nanshan Science and Technology Park, home to some of the country’s biggest tech brands. And the GBA masterplan has at its core the ambitious “10 hubs” plan to build China’s answer to Silicon Valley, known as the Science and Technology Innovation Corridor (STIC).

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Daya Bay to build AI industrial park

Huizhou’s city government is stepping up to the plate on artificial intelligence, establishing a new special industrial park in the Daya Bay district devoted to development of AI-related technologies. Yet it is doing this with a twist: the park is not for its own use, but to facilitate cooperation between neighboring Shenzhen and Hong Kong across a range of applications.

Situated along the coastline and bordering Shenzhen’s Dapeng district, Daya Bay is home to one of Huizhou’s key industrial development clusters in the petrochemicals industry. US-based multinational oil giant Exxon has a base here. The area has room to expand, and Huizhou has decided to use it for industrial upgrading.

The new AI park will cover a total planned area of about 10.8 sqkm in the western part of Daya Bay. Although the park is in the early stages of development, it is expected that priority will be given to the smart manufacturing and smart energy industries.

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‘Smart glasses’ debut at Shenzhen Bay Port

Smugglers, your days are numbered! Shenzhen is rolling out the trial use of special 5G-enabled scanners at one of its key border points with Hong Kong. According to local media, “smart cameras” and “smart glasses” are being used to detect suspicious goods at the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint, where some 158,000 people pass through every day.

The glasses and cameras are hooked up to a large database. Thanks to the fast connection enabled by the 5G network, officers wearing the glasses are able to get real-time updates on the passengers flowing through the checkpoint. When a suspicious one has been identified, they will receive a voice prompt from an earplug attached to the the glasses and a connected tablet will bring up the relevant information about the person. 

For all of this to work, of course, profiles need to be constantly built through the use of facial recognition software and other identifiers. The system allows frontline officers to target suspicious passengers and respond more quickly than before.

During the trial operation, Shenzhen Customs has reportedly seen a steady improvement in its ability to identify and seize illicit movement of goods. The system will be rolled out across the city’s multiple border checkpoints in the near future, and it is serving as a testbed for the entire country.

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GBA agricultural product system set up

A system aiming to provide safe and high-quality agricultural products across the Greater Bay Area has opened. With 682 offline sales points in operation, the GBA Vegetable Basket verifies products from more than 380 suppliers in the region, according to Guangzhou’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. 

The system covers 62 categories of fruit and vegetables, 17 categories of livestock, and 10 categories of fish products and bee products. All products are required to comply with relevant national quality and safety standards, and every one must carry an official barcode that can be scanned by buyers wanting to know its origin as well as check the associated report issued by statutory third-party inspection agencies.
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Dongguan aims for star scientific role

 “Whomever masters materials, masters the future.” 

So states a sign on a wall of the Songshan Lake Materials Laboratory, in the heart of Dongguan’s burgeoning high-tech district. It hints at the ambitions being pursued in this go-getting city, once known as the “workshop of the world”, as it strives to develop a world-class advanced materials industry.

Those ambitions were on full display earlier this month, during the Guangdong Materials Development Forum, which was held at the Dongguan University of Technology. The first time this event has been held outside of Guangzhou in 12 years, it attracted around 600 scientists from all over the country and the world. They included senior academicians from the country’s top-level research institutes, Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, as well as representatives of manufacturers related to the industry, who came to seek development opportunities. 

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