Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are invited to launch startups in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen to help build the city into an innovation hub.
Hundreds of people, including representatives from Chinese and U.S. companies as well as local governments, were attracted to China Shenzhen-U.S. Silicon Valley Investment Collaboration and Exchange Conference hosted by the Shenzhen municipal government in Santa Clara, California, on Monday.
The conference, themed "Shenzhen-Silicon Valley: Innovation Consensus", aimed to promote collaboration between Chinese and U.S. companies in investment, science and technology innovation by leveraging Shenzhen's advantages in hardware and Silicon Valley's advantages in software.
"China and the U.S. share wide common interests. Economic and trade cooperation is important to both countries' development, and so promoting pragmatic cooperation will benefit both the Chinese and American people," said Wang Weizhong, secretary of the Communist Party of China Shenzhen Municipal Committee, at the conference.
He told participants that Shenzhen has a vibrant business environment and innovation ecosystem. "We have been adhering to the principle that innovation is our top priority and talent is our top resource," he said.
In 2017, Shenzhen's GDP reached about $330 billion, becoming China's third-largest city in terms of economic size. More than $14 billion went to R&D investment last year, accounting for 4.13 percent of the GDP, according to Wang.
The city ranked the sixth in economic competitiveness worldwide in The Global Urban Competitiveness Report 2017-2018.
"Shenzhen is a city of innovation with global competitiveness. It has fostered 14 unicorn startups," said Wang. "New technologies will be transformed into products at the fastest speed in Shenzhen."
Paul Dyck, vice-president of international government affairs for Walmart, said Shenzhen has developed dramatically fast in a short period and the U.S. company has been working closely with the Shenzhen government since its first store was launched in Shenzhen 22 years ago.
"It's the most dynamic and innovative city in China," he told the participants at the conference. "Nowhere is more important to us than Shenzhen."
Walmart has recently opened a small-format "smart" store in Shenzhen, which uses high-tech stocking system and can better accommodate shoppers in residential areas.
During the conference, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Walmart and Invest Shenzhen, a government agency tasked to attract investment, to open 75 such smart stores in Shenzhen in the next five years.
"Innovation is more than just about shopping experience but also tackling global issues, like food safety," said Dyck. He said he was excited at the opportunity of bringing innovation to China and continuing the partnership with Shenzhen.
Eight other agreements also were signed between Shenzhen and Chinese and U.S. companies, covering the areas of 3D printing, biotech and new materials, with a combined investment of $276 million.