Shenzhen throws cash at big brains

Shenzhen has been raising the bar in the region’s “talent wars”, with competition growing steadily among the 11 GBA cities. Subsidies in the form of housing and tax-equalisation measures have been getting rolled out aggressively lately. The city’s academic leadership must be feeling the pressure, however, because now Shenzhen has set its sights on a few people at the very top of the academic food chain, offering eye-watering incentives to retain its brightest minds.  

According to the city government’s announcement, 10 “training objects” with the potential to grow into the city’s “Class A talents” will be granted “training funds” of either RMB10 million, RMB15 million, or even RMB20 million, spread over a five-year period.

Although the awards will be given regardless of nationality or household registration status, there is a catch. They are for people already working full-time in Shenzhen, and should meet one of the following conditions: 

  • Previously presided over major national scientific research tasks; 
  • Experience leading national-level innovation bases or key discipline projects;
  • Experience leading a high-level innovation team at or above the provincial level;
  • Responsible for major breakthroughs in forward-looking basic research and original innovation; 
  • Contributed to leading-edge technologies, modern engineering technologies, and disruptive technologies.

The selection committee will focus on basic and applied research, especially in Shenzhen’s current and future areas of competitive advantage. 

According to the guidelines, 50% of the “training funds” will be allocated upon signing with the balance paid after a mid-term evaluation. Needless to say, contracts will be designed to lock these bright minds into their employer for the full five years, during which time they will not be allowed to take outside work in the private sector.

The incentives will be launched on September 1, and will be granted every two years. 

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