The long-awaited Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) masterplan was released on February 18, 2019. As had been expected, the 59-page English translation reads like a broadly ambitious guide to how the region is expected to develop over the coming years, leaving more specific implementation details to be fleshed out by local authorities, albeit under the guidance of the central government.
Although short of detailed prescriptions, the document provides a glimpse into how quickly the region is likely to change in the coming years: by 2035, nine Guangdong cities plus the Hong Kong Kong and Macau SARs (“9+2”) should be the world’s leading “bay area”. This would involve roughly doubling the region’s GDP over the next 15 years, thereby surpassing Greater Tokyo, Greater New York and Greater San Francisco.
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).
In the northeast corner of Guangzhou, a vision of the city’s future has been rising for nearly a decade. Thanks to some major investments announced recently, and as the project nears the halfway mark of its original 20-year development plan, an opportune moment has arisen to review its progress. Local media have been gushing about its potential.
You might have heard about the ‘Innovation Corridor’ linking Guangdong’s tech hubs with Hong Kong. But what is it? Here we explain the basics of ‘One Corridor, Ten Cores, and Multiple Supporting Nodes.’ Forget Zhongguancun in Beijing; this is where ‘China’s Silicon Valley’ is being built.
Vickey Li is the
cofounder of OnePiece Work, a cross-border startup incubator from Silicon
Valley. It leases space, but also provides consulting services to small and
micro enterprises. Li views Shenzhen as a great place to start a business.
Vickey Li has had more than a taste
of both American and Chinese corporate cultures. Educated in the US for senior
high school and college, she returned to China after graduation to dive into Shanghai’s
competitive real estate industry. That lasted three years before Li returned to
the US to found her current company, OnePiece Work. Today she finds herself back
in China, setting up a new office in Shenzhen. We caught her story at a recent event
organized by Startup Grind Shenzhen.
The new special economic zone in Shenzhen, one of three designated by Beijing for the next stage of China’s Reform & Opening, has been slow getting going, but changes are being accelerated.
As far as special economic zones go, Qianhai is not meant to impress with its size. At just 18.04 sq km, the new zone in the western side of Shenzhen, facing the South China Sea, is relatively small, with not much room for future expansion – unless further reclamation work is done. But that is just fine for local and national officials, for now. What Qianhai is set to accomplish in the coming years, under the Greater Bay Area masterplan, is all about quality rather than quantity.