Innovation-driven policies rewarding many firms

By YUAN SHENGGAO | (China Daily)| Updated : 2021-12-17

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Weifang Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone in East China's Shandong province is striving to build itself into a demonstration zone for innovation-driven development and a pilot zone for high-quality development, local officials said.

The high-tech industrial zone has implemented policies for sci-tech project leaders to give them more autonomy when using research funds.

It has taken the lead in Weifang in establishing a comprehensive evaluation system for sci-tech projects, in a bid to ease researchers' burden of unnecessary affairs and allow them to concentrate on scientific research.

By bolstering the principal role of businesses in conducting innovation, the industrial zone has strengthened financial support for companies to make key technological breakthroughs and solve bottleneck problems.

So far, 10 projects in the zone have been approved to be State-level sci-tech projects, receiving total funds of 290 million yuan ($45.5 million).

Since 2020, it has provided more than 32 million yuan in an innovation-driven incentive fund to 187 companies; offered nearly 26 million yuan as industrial development rewards to 91 companies; and awarded a total of 6 million yuan to gazelle enterprises. Gazelle companies are fast-growing and have base revenues of at least $1 million and four years of sustained revenue growth.

The industrial zone has supported its companies to continuously increase their investment in research and development. Last year, the R&D investment of these companies accounted for 7.2 percent of the zone's GDP, the highest level in history.

As a result, the zone's technology reserves are becoming increasingly strong in such cutting-edge fields as high-end power equipment, hydrogen fuel and magnetic suspension.

For example, Weichai Group, one of the leading heavy truck and component manufacturers in China, launched the world's first commercial diesel engine with thermal efficiency surpassing 50 percent, last year.

The engine was listed as one of the top 10 scientific and technological achievements in Shandong province in 2020.

Shandong Tianrui Heavy Industry, a leading drilling machine maker in China, introduced its innovative maglev blowers, which use synchronized magnet motors to compress air for industrial production, to the market in 2018.

The product can be used in fields such as industrial wastewater treatment, aquaculture and gas transmission, and has a reduced effect on the environment, a lower requirement for maintenance and a longer life cycle.

The industrial zone has encouraged companies to set up various high-end R&D platforms to attract resources and talents.

It is now home to 11 national-level innovation platforms including the National Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Center, and 63 provincial-level ones including the Shandong Photoresist Key Laboratory, the only one of its kind in the province.

These innovation platforms have played an important role in promoting technological transformation and industrialization in the zone.

Shengrui Transmission's front-engine, front-drive eight-gear automatic transmission project won first prize at the National Science and Technology Progress Awards in 2016, making it the first auto parts supplier to obtain the award since it was created in 1984.

Weichai Power is another company in the zone awarded first place at the National Science and Technology Progress Awards in 2018, for its project of key technologies and applications of heavy-duty commercial vehicle powertrains.

In addition to national prizes, the zone's companies have won 26 prizes at the Shandong provincial science and technology progress awards and 101 prizes at the Weifang science and technology progress awards, both ranking first in the city.

To better serve its high-tech companies, the zone has enhanced its service capacity pertaining to intellectual property rights. From January to May, companies in the zone were granted 2,298 patents, an increase of 36 percent year-on-year, accounting for 23 percent of the city's total.

And, as of May, the number of valid invention patents reached 4,838 in the zone, up 45 percent year-on-year, accounting for 44 percent of the city's total.

The zone has carried out patent pledge financing services to reduce companies' operating costs. This year, it has handled 14 patent-collateralized financing deals, with a combined value of over 81 million yuan.


Weichai Group launches the world's first commercial diesel engine with thermal efficiency surpassing 50 percent. CHINA DAILY