Zhuhai startup gets Intel Capital funding

Intel Capital has announced new investments totalling US$117 million in 14 technology startups, including Zhuhai EEasy Technology Co, according to an official release and reported by DealStreetAsia.

EEasy Technology Co. Ltd is an AI system-on-chip (SoC) design house and total solution provider. Its offerings include AI acceleration; image and graphic processing; video encoding and decoding; and mixed-signal ULSI design capabilities.

Each year, Intel Capital puts US$300 million to US$500 million into innovative companies across a wide range of emerging technologies.

Another Chinese company, Shanghai-based Cloudpick Limited, a smart retail technology provider, also won this year’s Intel funding. The 12 remaining startups are mostly from the US, with one from Israel, and represent communications, healthcare and manufacturing sectors.

Drone maker EHang considers private funding

Guangzhou-based drone maker EHang has delayed plans for a US IPO and is instead looking to raise up to US$200 million in a private fundraising, says DealStreetAsia, citing a Reuters report.

The five-year-old aerial landscaping specialist has decided to put off its IPO plan as it drew lukewarm investor interest, according to Reuters.,

EHang first made headlines in 2016 when it unveiled a passenger drone concept which it said would retail at up to $300,000. Early last year it said it had completed tests for the vehicle which is capable of carrying one person at speeds of up to 130 kph. In May EHang broke the Guinness World Record for most drones flown simultaneously in a 13-minute flight that involved 1,374 drones spread over a kilometer. In the consumer drone sector, EHang is however still dwarfed by fellow Shenzhen-based and the world’s largest non-military drone maker DJI Technology. DJI is said to be planning to list in either Hong Kong or mainland China.

Shenzhen/Shanwei zone gears up

A special zone being built between Shenzhen and Shanwei, about 60 km to the east of Shenzhen, is about to see new land requisition policies issued that will speed up development.

The 468 sq km zone, inaugurated last December, will be built over the next 15 years. It will eventually be home to around 1.5 million people focused in a variety of high-tech industries. The zone’s management committee said 30 sq km of land will initially be acquired and earmarked for development of companies involved in AI, next-generation IT products, and biomedicine.

By mid-year, the zone is expected to have its “Robot Town” taking shape, housing robotics companies. It will also launch a “Fashion Brand Industrial Park” at that time. A comprehensive high school, the Shenshan School of Nanshan Foreign Language School, has just opened, while the Shenshan campuses of Shenzhen Baihe Foreign Language School and Shenzhen Polytechnic are making headway.

Foshan, Guangzhou draw closer

Since last December, Guangzhou and Foshan have been working on the details of a plan to deepen their integration. Recently, they have been getting more specific. This week, Foshan announced no fewer than 92 projects aimed at facilitating intercity cooperation.

At the center of the Foshan-Guangzhou Cooperation Zone (see map) sits the Guangzhou South Station. This massive railway terminal reaches out not only to the Greater Bay Area’s other cities – including Hong Kong and Macau – but it also connects the Bay with the rest of the country.

The Foshan side of the cooperation zone will include three main development zones: the 93 sq km Sanlong Wan (Three Dragon Bay) “jump start” Zone, the 130 sq km “Core Zone and the 333 sq km “Coordination Zone.”

Foshan’s government this week pledged to invest RMB337.6 billion in the Sanlong Wan Zone, spread across 92 projects related to transportation infrastructure, industrial development, public services and city landscape.

Some of the most urgent and feasible projects are already under way and will be accelerated this year. They include the renovation and upgrade of roads from Foshan’s CBD to the Guangzhou South Station, and the construction of a major commercial complex on the Guangzhou-Foshan border. The city will also coordinate with Guangzhou to speed up the construction of the Nanhai-Panyu bridge and the extension of Guangzhou Metro to Foshan.

HKIA to boost mainland check-in points

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Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is aiming to nearly double the number of mainland-based remote check-in and baggage drop facilities to 29 over the next six years, SCMP reports.

Citing backing from Beijing, Fred Lam Tin-fuk, CEO of the airport’s operator, the Airport Authority Hong Kong, revealed the plan in a presentation to mainland Chinese aviation officials and experts today at the fourth Aviation Silk Road International Conference.

Lam said that by 2025 there would be 13 new upstream check-in facilities added to the 16 existing ones, which are based at ferry terminals, cross-border check points and a handful of downtown facilities in the Greater Bay Area.

Should we be looking forward to a check-in point at the Zhuhai/Macau side of the HZMB, we wonder? (Editor’s note: Will follow up and revert asap.)

Pingshan Art Museum Opens

Shenzhen’s new Pingshan Art Museum celebrated its opening this Saturday with the launch of a multi-media installation exhibition called “Unknown City” to explore China’s contemporary architecture and the future of urban planning. The opening also featured an outdoor centerpiece “Unknown Garden” by Chinese architect and the 2012 Pritzker Prize winner Wang Shu and his wife Lu Wenyu.

The six-story new museum, located in southeast Shenzhen’s Pingshan Cultural cluster, is designed by famous Chinese architect Dong Gong and covers a floor area of 9,900 square meters. Its opening exhibition will run from March 30 to September 30, featuring installation, photography and video works from 71 groups of the most outstanding contemporary Chinese architects, urban planners, designers, artists and researchers in the field.

Dongguan waves goodbye to the Nokia era

For Chinese readers, there is a feature story about Dongguan worth looking at in the latest issue of National Business Daily. It begins with an event that took place last week, when the city’s Natural Resources Bureau issued a public notice on the redevelopment of the old Nokia factory, which closed in 2015 after 20 years of operations. That closure marked the beginning of a major transition for Dongguan away from traditional manufacturing and hurtling toward a new era of “smart manufacturing”. It is today the fastest-growing of the 11 major cities in the GBA.

In the feature, titled “Waving goodbye to the Nokia era”, the story of Dongguan’s metamorphosis from an agricultural county to a manufacturing hub looks further into the future and examines the possibilities brought to the city by the Greater Bay Area initiative.

It has not always been an easy journey up to this point. In 2008, the global financial crisis highlighted the vulnerability of Dongguan to the vagaries of low-end manufacturing in a competitive globalized marketplace. Rising labor costs led many OEM companies to flee the city, forcing Dongguan to shift its focus to high-end manufacturing.

There were some bold decision-makers around, fortunately. In early 2013, China International Marine Containers Group invested RMB6 billion in south Dongguan’s Songshan Lake district to build a new kind of industrial park. In 2014, the world’s largest paper manufacturer, Nine Dragons Paper, chose Songshan Lake as its headquarters. Tech giant Huawei also recently built a replica of European township here to house its 2,700-strong work force, which moved over from Shenzhen.

Bordering Shenzhen, Songshan Lake has attracted Foxconn, cloud computing service provider ChinaSoft International, optical product manufacturer Lens Technology and biotech company 3SBIO, among many others. The Dongguan government has meanwhile invested RMB2.7 billion in building a robotics industry base here, attracting more than 156 companies. In 2017, Songshan Lake recorded RMB38.6 billion in GDP; For 2018, it’s estimated to reach RMB63 billion, up 63%.

Songshan Lake’s ascent mirrors Dongguan’s transformation as a whole. The development blueprint of the Greater Bay Area has given Zhuhai and Foshan the responsibility of building a manufacturing industrial belt for high end equipment, while Dongguan, along with Shenzhen, is tasked with creating a globally competitive industrial cluster for online businesses.

Dongguan lags quite a way behind Shenzhen and Guangzhou, at less than half their size in GDP. Its industrial hinterland is not as wide as Guangzhou’s, while it is not seen as being as open to new forms of fundraising or services as Shenzhen is.

Moreover, the article says, Dongguan needs to improve its connectivity to other cities as well as polish its brand image. This is being worked on: the opening of the new Nansha Bridge on April 2 will reduce commute times from other cities and counties, while numerous road and rail projects are under way to bring Dongguan within the one-hour living circle of the Greater Bay Area.

Logistics chief says HZMB not yet right for trucks

George Yeo, head of Kerry Logistics, knows the art of diplomacy. The former Singaporean foreign minister now heads one of the Greater Bay Area’s biggest logistics companies, Kerry Logistics. Yet it is clear in this feature on SCMP that he has decided it’s time to speak some hard truths. Here is an excerpt:

“The details are very important. Right now we have the broad framework and the general idea [of the plan]. We have to go down now to the nitty gritty, to the specific details,” Yeo said.

“There is still very little cargo going across because the rules are not clearly settled with the customs authorities. I am sure it will be resolved within a few months. There are practical details about how to clear containers and where to clear them and the smoother it is the better.”

“The clearer the rules are the more the trucks that carry such containers can pass through with minimum friction.”

Read the full story here

Hong Kong business leaders offer vision for GBA

The 2022 Foundation, a Hong Kong think tank chaired by leading businessman Victor Fung, has unveiled a policy study report setting out 50 recommendations to push forward the Greater Bay Area development plan, reports the SCMP.

The foundation made its suggestions around six themes: fostering further economic reform, enhancing cooperation, intensifying regional development, boosting the workforce, increasing understanding of the region, and establishing new institutions, such as a chamber of commerce that would put business leaders from the 11 city economics under one roof.

Tencent to build fintech lab focused on ‘open banking’

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Tencent is putting two of its key subsidiaries together in a fintech innovation lab focused on the research and development of applications for “open banking.” The joint venture is between Tencent Cloud, a global cloud services provider, and WeBank, China’s first online bank.

Open banking can be defined as a collaborative model in which banking data are shared through APIs between two or more unaffiliated parties.

WeBank’s Wei Li Dai (微粒贷) financial product was the first in China to provide consumers with a complete online lending process, from application and approval to the provision of funds. Borrowers are not required to provide collateral or security for credit, and instead only need to provide their identification numbers and mobile phone numbers through Tencent’s ubiquitous social media app WeChat and instant messaging software service QQ in order to obtain loans of between RMB500 and RMB200,000.

Tencent Cloud and WeBank’s new collaboration will be based on the concept of “open banking” to explore technical innovations on its fundamental structure, financial application and experiential innovation.