Business leaders see positive future
Business leaders appear to be betting on Wuxi, Jiangsu province, as the place to develop their internet of things projects, if recent events are anything to go by.
A number of industry figures have recently praised the city for its business environment and efficient government services, with many of them keen to stress their confidence in Wuxi as a place to base new IoT projects.
Significantly, a number of tech giants have also voiced their willingness to step up investment in the city, also a national sensor network innovation demonstration zone approved by the State Council in 2009.
"We plan to invest 100 million yen ($0.94 million) over the next five years in order to fund the development of smart agriculture in the city," said Haruki Noumaru, director of the Department of New Business Propulsion at Japanese automation company Omron, adding that the project had originally started in 2015.
In 2017, the Japanese company set up nearly 10 hectares of smart farmland in Wuxi using sensing technology to detect the growth of fruit and vegetables, with plants automatically provided with water and fertilizer as required.
The consequences of the initiative are potentially enormous, with the company aiming to cut the need for human labor while increasing agricultural productivity.
Already, other areas of the country have shown an interest, including Ningbo in Zhejiang province and Qiqihar in Heilongjiang province.
"We're going to build another 2,000 square meters of greenhouse space and try new plants," said Noumaru, revealing the company's future plans for Wuxi.
While the company's achievements are undeniably impressive, the Japanese businessman is clear that the support it has received from the local government has been essential, revealing that it has helped find local buyers for the company's fruit and vegetables.
Chen Shanzhi, vice-president of Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group, is also clear about the city's advantages.
Wuxi is a leader among Chinese cities in terms of narrowband IoT and 5G technologies, said Chen, adding that the city's strong manufacturing base will likely make the area attractive to other IoT companies.
The Wuxi branch of Datang Telecom Convergence Communications was set up in the city's Huishan district and covers 2,000 sq m. It aims to promote the integration of new information technologies, such as the IoT, with the traditional manufacturing sector.
Big names in the global life science industry also eye new opportunities in Wuxi. AstraZeneca, a global biopharmaceutical giant, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Wuxi National Hi-Tech District at the Boao Forum For Asia earlier this year. The deal commits the company to supporting the building of Wuxi International Life Science Innovation Park.
"Our healthcare internet of things strategy started here (in Wuxi); it will leave its mark across the country and along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative, bringing benefits to patients not only in China but across the world," said Leon Wang, the company's executive vice-president, at the forum in March.
Early in 2017, AstraZeneca launched the Healthcare IoT Innovation Center in Wuxi, which aims to explore the use of new technologies to create holistic disease management solutions for patients, covering prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation.
Now, the company is set to accelerate its development of IoT projects in the city - attracted by its advantageous location, supportive local government and top-notch infrastructure, according to Wang.
"When it comes to the local government, we have found officials open-minded, and Wuxi's favorable tax policies make the city especially attractive," he added.
As the IoT revolution starts to heat up, it seems a safe bet that Wuxi is going to be the place where many of these life-changing technologies are developed.
(China Daily 09/07/2019 page20)