Hi-tech hub: world of outstanding opportunities
Business is flourishing at Beijing ETOWN thanks to meticulous planning, first-class facilities and powerful government support. Now the zone is preparing for the challenges – and opportunities – that lie ahead.
Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation, it has been said. That maxim is certainly true of the remarkable rise and rise of Beijing ETOWN over the past two decades.
Meticulous and considerate planning, unstinting government support and the ability to create and nourish an environment where hi-tech, high-end industry can flourish have been the foundations of the zone’s extraordinary success.
Anticipating and preparing for the rise of the IT industry, the auto industry, the biomedicine industry and the equipment manufacturing industry have enabled Beijing ETOWN to provide an ideal home for the sectors’ best innovators.
Building a home from home for the thousands of overseas experts who have flocked to the zone has created communities of like-minded professionals, nurturing and encouraging their creativity and giving rise to new businesses and innovation.
Beijing ETOWN is an aspirational, inspirational centre of excellence where the young, the driven, the talented and the exceptional can let their imaginations run riot and find vivid new inspiration among those around them.
It is not a place for the ordinary, the commonplace or the everyday. It is a place with a spirit similar to that of Silicon Valley where, to paraphrase Yang Li, executive director of Beijing ETOWN’s Cloud Valley, eccentricity is quite normal.
Arguably Beijing ETOWN’s greatest achievement has been to create a genuine living environment out of what not long ago was farmland on the southeastern edge of the Chinese capital.
“Look at how many restaurants there are now,” remarks Jeff Sommer, GE Healthcare's Asia global supply chain general manager, who has worked in ETOWN for the past six years and remembers how eerily quiet it used to be in the evenings.
“Before, there were only a handful of places to eat out – now there are so many,” he says. “There are new shopping malls and there are so many more people living here.”
Ten years ago, the streets of ETOWN would be quiet after 5 pm. The zone’s LED street lights would glimmer over an abandoned landscape of orderly intersections. Now, slowly but surely, nocturnal life is creeping into the zone.
Shops and restaurants are open until midnight. Five-star hotels and cinema complexes do a respectable trade. Sports centres and community halls are getting more evening and weekend bookings.
The reason is that in the hi-tech, high-end industries that make Beijing ETOWN tick, people want to live near work and want to live among the people they work with. Clusters have become communities, and communities have become neighbourhoods.
“People in my industry go out jogging together,” says Yang. “It’s very popular. We have the Beijing Marathon in October and we have quite a few people who can run the full marathon and others who can run a half marathon.” He adds, with an apologetic laugh: “I can run 10 kilometres.”
Over at Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), director of public affairs Rena Xia says that one of her employees is dating an employee from nearby hi-tech company BOE – more evidence that life in Beijing ETOWN extends beyond the working day.
Beijing ETOWN is more than just a place to work. It is a place to live. And it is a place to innovate and create, a place to realize ambitions and dreams that extend beyond the ordinary and the everyday.
The industries it embraces are highly competitive ones, relying upon a constant inflow of the best available talent from China and around the world. Securing and retaining that talent requires the best possible living and working environment.
Good infrastructure is vital of course. One US business leader based in the zone says: “We knew before we came here that the Chinese government does a wonderful job in terms of infrastructure. Whether it’s an airport, train station or highway, it is one of the things they do the best.”
Today, however, a good environment is a clean environment and efforts have been made since Beijing ETOWN’s inception to provide a clean living environment with clean air, clean water and a responsible attitude to power use to make the zone fit for family life.
On a business level, the local government at Beijing ETOWN is profoundly involved in every aspect of the zone’s day-to-day operations, offering support, guidance and help at all levels to the enterprises in the zone.
There is a strong partnership between officials and business leaders and a powerful sense that they are embarked upon the same mission together with the same goal: to produce world-beating innovation from an unrivalled working environment.
Continuing spectacular achievement depends upon continuing unspectacular preparations – and the process of planning for the future at Beijing ETOWN is a constant and relentless one.
Already, the zone is welcoming in four new industrial sectors, each of which will play an important role in the future development not only of Beijing but of China as a whole.
The first sector is the productive service industry, which will transform the main street of the zone, Ronghua Road, into a street of innovation with 2,000 cutting-edge companies from around the world.
The second sector is creativity and the cultural arts sector, focusing on new media, film and television production, publishing and cultural activities, making the zone a national centre for the arts as well as for innovation.
The third sector is the aerospace industry, coinciding with the new international airport opening nearby to provide a centre for airport logistics, aerospace studies and international conferences and exhibitions.
The fourth sector is the environment – green energy such as wind power, solar photovoltaic, green batteries and LED lighting. Beijing ETOWN aims to be the most advanced centre for green and new energy production in northern China.
Like the entrepreneurs driving its phenomenal growth, Beijing ETOWN is restless, intellectually inquisitive and unapologetically ambitious. Today’s achievements are no more than milestones on the road to tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.
In a fast-moving and fiercely competitive global environment, the success or failure that a business tastes tomorrow depends upon the amount of hard work and preparation it does today. Beijing ETOWN is working tirelessly to shape its own destiny.