Returnees vital to Shanghai's innovation

(China Daily) 10:13, October 03, 2021

Lujiazui, the financial center in Shanghai, forms a perfect backdrop to the Bund area. [WANG GANG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Shanghai-based startups founded by Chinese entrepreneurs returning from overseas have demonstrated high levels of development and growth, strong competitiveness, and are well integrated with the municipality, according to a report released by the Shanghai Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau.

By leveraging their advantages in terms of resources and connections to individuals and institutions overseas, the startups are actively exploring international markets and creating circulation between local and overseas markets, the report added.

Released on Wednesday, the report is the first of its kind issued by a Chinese city. Jointly conducted by the bureau, the Shanghai Foreign Service (Group), and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in the first half of this year, it explores the contribution made by skilled individuals returning from abroad, how they integrate with Shanghai's development blueprint, and the way returnees and the city gain mutual promotion as a result.

The number of returnees working or running businesses in Shanghai currently stands at over 220,000, the largest figure for any Chinese mainland city, according to the bureau.

"The number of returnees was 67,000 from 2016 to 2020, more than double that of the previous five years," said Zhao Yongfeng, director of the bureau.

"There were more than 22,000 in the first three quarters of this year, equivalent to last year's total."

According to the report, most entrepreneurs made use of overseas resources to create their technological advantage, form entrepreneurial teams, and develop business contacts.

"A high proportion of the initial core teams at many of these startups was composed of colleagues and schoolmates met while working and studying overseas," said Zhu Yinghua, head of the international collaboration and exchange division of the Shanghai Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau.

One example cited was thermal imaging company Magnity Technologies, which was founded in 2008 at Shanghai's Caohejing Hi-tech Park by a group of returnees and graduates from elite domestic universities.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic last year, the company's visible and thermal dual cameras for fever detection have been used in the United States, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Russia, among other countries, as well as at domestic airports and railway and metro stations.

The report also noted that many returnees are working in the municipality's pillar industries. More than 70 percent of the startups are involved in biomedicine, integrated circuitry, artificial intelligence, equipment manufacturing, new materials, and new energy-the six core drivers of Shanghai's industrial development.

"Startups play a significant role in promoting Shanghai's industrial upgrading, and in the city's construction of a scientific and technological innovation center that will have global influence," said Zhu.

As many as 83 percent of returnee entrepreneurs hold master's or doctoral degrees. More than 71 percent also had overseas work experience, 31 percent in senior positions and 22 percent as business owners.

(Web editor: Zhang Wenjie, Bianji)


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