Foshan builds a brain box

Every city in the Greater Bay Area, if not the country, is positioning itself as an attractive destination for people with PhDs and post-doctoral qualifications. Foshan, however, has gone the extra mile by setting up a “matchmaking” fair for them.

On November 18, the “Guangdong (Foshan) Doctor and Postdoctoral Talent Exchange and Technology Project Matchmaking Meeting” was hosted at the city’s convention center, attracting nearly 1,200 doctoral and postdoctoral fellows from around the world. Schmoozing them were around 60 employers.

Most attendees had PhDs, including 180 from overseas universities. Also unsurprisingly, most were working in strategic emerging industries such as biomedicine, engineering and materials, energy resources and environment, advanced manufacturing, and modern information technology.

What might have attracted them to Foshan? Many said that the city’s developed manufacturing base was, indeed, in its favor: companies with the R&D budgets to match are in abundance here. Others cited Foshan’s low-cost lifestyle, advanced research facilities, and attractive policies toward talent – i.e., financial and housing incentives. 

One attendee, a Dr. Wang from the University of Macau, said: “I want to be based in the GBA because there is a strong research atmosphere here, while the region’s talent policies are attractive.” His focus was artificial intelligence, which is becoming more important for Foshan’s traditional manufacturing industry as it goes through an intensive upgrading process.

It helps that Foshan, like the nine other GBA cities within Guangdong, is part of a masterplan that provides heavy provincial support in the building of local innovation platforms. The province is No. 1 in the country for number of post-doctoral researchers, according to official data. Foshan has been an early adopter of this plan, and it currently has no fewer than 61 post-doctoral research institutes, hosting more than 100 post-doctoral researchers.

Foshan’s own plan for transformation of its manufacturing industry is focused on ambitious targets, known by their moniker, “2+2+4”: two industrial clusters worth 1 trillion each, by 2020; two worth more than 500 billion yuan each, by 2025, and four clusters worth more than 300 billion yuan by 2030.

The first two clusters have already been formed, in advanced manufacturing and smart home appliances. This is hardly surprising: Foshan is home to Midea, China’s home-appliance king.

Foshan has an annual budget of 3 billion yuan to attract talent. A series of policies have been introduced, covering a variety of facets from subsidized housing, related family employment, children’s enrollment in local schools, project support, research financing, and academic exchanges. 

That is not enough, obviously. At the matchmaking fair, a special “incubator” was launched, which will focus on further cultivating top research talent. For existing talent based in Foshan, an “alliance” was also established.

Read more (in Chinese).

Tell us what you think