On 25 December 2020, MOST’s Torch Centre and the CAS Institute of Science and Development jointly released the National High-tech Zones Innovation Capability Report (2018).
2018 marked the 30th anniversary since the establishment of the first national-level pilot high-tech zone in Beijing. A total of 168 national high-tech zones were existing by the end of 2018. A few highlights from the report:
- The GDP generated by national high-tech zones in 2017 amounted to 9.52 trillion RMB, corresponding to 11.5% of the country’s total GDP in that year;
- R&D expenditure of national high-tech zones accounted for 35% of the country’s total in 2017, nearly half of which was conducted by enterprises;
- Two-thirds of China’s State Key Laboratories, Engineering Centres and Labs, and other key national research infrastructures are located within national high-tech zones;
- Total full-time equivalent R&D personnel in enterprises accounted for nearly half of the country’s total;
- A total of 112,000 innovation patents were obtained by entities within national high-tech zones (out of 288,000 applications), 93,000 of which only by enterprises (corresponding to nearly half of the country’s total);
- Over half of the country’s total incubators are located within national high-tech zones. The total number of start-ups in incubation in 2017 was 61,743;
- 37% of China’s High- and New-Technology Enterprises (HNTEs) are located within national high-tech zones;
- National high-tech zones are also large contributors to foreign trade, with the total number of exports in 2017 accounting for nearly one-fifth of the country’s total (nearly half if only high-tech products are taken into account).
Note: the above figures refer to 156 national high-tech zones, and do no include newly-established high-tech zones in 2018.
Despite the above figures, during the Report’s launch event it was noted that China’s national high-tech zones are still experiencing some difficulties in attracting venture capital investments, especially when compared to the Silicon Valley.