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Hangzhou's innovation efforts encourage startup firms

By Xu Xiaomin| China Daily| Updated: April 15, 2016 L M S


Young entrepreneurs at an international entrepreneurship forum in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province. LONG WEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

As part of its efforts to attract top professionals to make Hangzhou an innovation hub, the capital city of Zhejiang province will provide as much as 100 million yuan ($15.44 million) in subsidies to some of the most valuable startup programs, said a top city official.

The city will also offer subsidies ranging between 5 million and 20 million yuan to leading projects developed overseas.

"We are going all out to turn Hangzhou into a hotbed for innovation and talent plays a key role in realizing that goal," said Zhao Yide, Party chief of Hangzhou, at a news conference.

"We hope to attract professionals from around the country and the world to live in Hangzhou and start their businesses here."

Hangzhou, just 175 kilometers from Shanghai, was in the past a convenient second-choice destination for professionals who could not secure positions in Shanghai.

These days, however, Zhao said that an increasing number of professionals have come straight to the city. More than 23,000 Chinese, who returned home from overseas, have already chosen to work in Hangzhou, according to figures released by the authorities.

Early last year, the city issued 27 policies related to talent recruitment, targeting those who have managed startup companies as well as innovative and creative high-level professionals. The new policies represented a breakthrough in various areas such as residency, education, medical, social security, financial support and product commercialization.

"All the comprehensive measures we have made, from environmental protection to intellectual property rights, are to attract quality talent to work and live in Hangzhou," Zhao said.

Chen Yiyou, founder and president of New Horizon Health Technology Co Ltd, said he chose to establish his business in Hangzhou because of the government's solid support for the new technology industry as well as the industrious spirit of the city's residents. His company specializes in the early screening of intestinal cancer.

Chen said he had applied for preferential support for his new company in 2013 and was subsequently awarded a starting fund of 5 million yuan within the same year. He was also given preferential support in residency matters.

"These are some of the reasons why Alibaba Group Holding Ltd was born here," Chen said referring to the e-commerce giant founded in the city 17 years ago.

"The efficiency of the government is very important in attracting overseas talent. In terms of setting up a business, I believe that Hangzhou is one of the best cities in China right now. After coming back to China and working in Hangzhou for more than three years, I can confidently say that I had made the correct decision," said the Chinese-American doctor, who has worked in several major cities in China and the United States.

But apart from trying to attract experienced professionals from home and abroad, the city has also set up a 100 million yuan fund to help local university students start their businesses. According to government statistics, about 70 percent of the graduates from 36 universities and colleges in Hangzhou chose to start their careers in the city in the past years.

"Our statistics show that every week in Hangzhou there are 76 university students starting their own businesses while an average of 34 enterprises are founded by university students," said Ma Xiaohui, vice-mayor of Hangzhou.