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High-tech zone shines as hub of innovation in Hainan

Print China Daily Updated: 2024-04-17

Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City is a leading high-tech engine for Hainan's development. CHINA DAILY

A marine research ship returns to Nanshan Port after an offshore exploration mission. CHINA DAILY

The Bougainvillea Science Expo Park in Yazhou Bay sci-tech city is a base for the preservation and research of bougainvillea germplasm resources and a site for educational tours. CHINA DAILY

Cutting-edge advancements in Yazhou Bay attracting global enterprises

Sanya, a coastal city on the island province of Hainan, has long been known as one of the top tourist destinations in China.

And in recent years, the city has also become a magnet to investors, especially those in high-tech sectors, thanks to the booming development of Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City. The area is a high-tech zone focusing on such cutting-edge sectors as advanced crop sciences, deep-sea engineering and biological pharmaceutics.
It has grown into a significant engine for the high-quality and innovation-driven development of the South China island province, thanks to the establishment of a number of innovation platforms.

One milestone establishment of the zone's innovation systems was the Deep-Sea Public Platform for Sci-Tech Innovation, which became operational in late October 2023.

This facility was developed in partnership with several renowned universities including Ocean University of China and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Within months of operation, the platform has helped to attract more high-tech enterprises and research institutions in China to invest in new facilities in the sci-tech city.
These facilities include an advanced industrial innovation platform launched by Zhejiang University, a dedicated port for deep-sea research, a deep-sea equipment manufacturing and assembly center and the South China Deep-Sea Geological Science Innovation Base.

Another strategically significant public innovation platform is the Yazhouwan National Laboratory for seed breeding research, which was established in June 2022.
The lab is part of the Nanfan Scientific and Research Breeding Base, a key industrial base at the Yazhou Bay sci-tech city. Nanfan, dubbed the "Silicon Valley" of China's seed industry, breeds more than 70 percent of China's new seed varieties.

Following the operation of the crucial lab, a number of additional seed-related research facilities have been developed or are under construction in Yazhou Bay. These include the Nanfan Seed Industry Sci-Tech Mass Innovation Center and an international technology innovation and transfer center for corn.

The seed breeding research sector in Hainan, with the Yazhou Bay sci-tech city as the core, has gathered more than 800 research staff members to work toward seed industry innovation.

The rich research resources, the solid industrial foundation and ever-improving business environment of the sci-tech city have also increased its appeal to investors, according to local officials.

An official at the administrative bureau of the Yazhou Bay sci-tech city said the leading industrial players in Yazhou Bay are playing a crucial role in attracting investors through extending their respective industry chains, especially in the sectors of deep-sea engineering, crop sciences, digital technology and life sciences.

He cited the example of iFlytek, which has invested in a huge facility for computing power, algorithm and big data in Yazhou Bay. "Its success has a demonstration effect for other industrial peers," he said. "We are in touch with companies like Intel, Amazon and JD, who are showing strong interest in Yazhou Bay."

Shanghai-based Richtech is another investor in Yazhou Bay. It has invested in an offshore wind power technology development and equipment manufacturing facility — Hainan Richtech New Energy Technology — in the sci-tech city.

"Thanks to the fruitful cooperation with the local Hainan Deep-Sea Technology Innovation Center, we are offered strong support in many key technological areas," said an executive of Hainan Richtech. "One example is that our joint research has led to the development of the floating-type wind power system, meaning that we can develop wind farms on offshore areas under extreme natural conditions."

BGI Group is a nationally renowned biotech company. It has founded BGI-Research Sanya in Yazhou Bay, capitalizing on rich local genetic resources to deepen its R&D in the crop science sector.

BGI-Research Sanya became operational in December 2021. In November 2022, it began cooperation with agro-food research company KeyGene in the Netherlands to study the added value of BGI's spatial transcriptomics platform, Stereo-Seq, for plant breeding.

Yue Zhen, president of BGI-Research Sanya, said that the opening-up policies of Hainan and the province's rich germplasm resources can create advantageous conditions for life science development. He said he is optimistic about BGI's development in Hainan.

The Yazhou Bay sci-tech city has also attracted a number of professionals from overseas.

Charlotte Magnette from Belgium was the first foreign employee in the local government in Yazhou Bay. She began to work there as an investment promotion official in 2021.

"When I first heard of the Hainan Free Trade Port, it sounded interesting but it's only when I started to work in Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City that I realized the development potential it can have," she said.

She added that she was very impressed with the speed of development of the sci-tech city.

"In the three years I've been working here, I've seen a whole business ecosystem developing, I saw more companies entering our city, I've seen university students bringing dynamism to the city," she said.

She added that more foreigners are coming as more convenient services are put in place.

Muhammad Musa Khan, a Pakistani working with the Hainan Institute of Zhejiang University in Yazhou Bay, said life there has been "incredibly fulfilling".

"I am enjoying my life in Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City," Khan said. "Its modern amenities and family-friendly infrastructure have made it a comfortable and enjoyable place for my loved ones."

He added that "it strikes a harmonious balance between career and personal well-being, making it a place we are proud to call home".

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