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Zhongguancun Science Park 2.0: Is this the next Silicon Valley?

Rhea Liu

Beijing’s Zhongguancun Science Park released a new development plan on Sunday. The plan indicates Zhongguancun Avenue will transform from an electronics market into a technology and innovation incubator over the next five years.

According to the plan, the commercial area in the 7.2 km long avenue will soon only be open to high-tech startups and incubators. Existing unrelated businesses will be moved out of the area gradually. The Science Park will designate a special function area where entrepreneurs will receive expedited service for tedious government processes like business registration.

Zhongguancun Science Park was founded in 1988 as the first high-tech industrial park in China. It now consists of 16 branches in various areas of Beijing.

At the core of the Park, the avenue encompasses approximately 1.7 million square meters of commercial space with an estimated 6663 companies. According to the Beijing Statistics Bureau, from January to August this year, high-tech enterprises in the Zhongguancun Science Park together brought in revenue of RMB 2.137 trillion (USD 339 billion).

A handful of universities known for doing the heavy-lifting in technology and science are all located on the avenue. Tsinghua University, Peking University and Renmin University are all within reach of the avenue.

The western part of the avenue used to be one of China’s largest electronics markets, but has for the last five years undergone restructuring. The 434,000 square meter electronics market has now been downsized to 150,600 square meters. The restructured area is now designated space for start-ups and incubators.

As a part of the new experiment, Inno Way, or according to its Chinese name — Entrepreneurship Street, located at the Science Park, has hatched over 600 companies, among which over 350 companies have successfully raised a total of RMB 1.75 billion (USD 277 million) in the past year.

Based on the success of Inno Way, the Zhongguancun Science Park is determined to extend the upgrade plan to the entire Zhongguancun Avenue.

Last month, Zhongguancun Collaborative Innovation Fund was co-founded by 14 municipal governments and financial institutes in Beijing with claimed capital of RMB ten billion (USD 1.58 billion).
Though the Science Park administration seems to be insistent on the upgrade plans, skeptical critics remain.

“Silicon Valley wasn’t built through governmental planning,” Feng Dahui, a former senior engineer at Alibaba and the present CTO of a medical startup, commented on Weibo.


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