Chengdu eyes competitive edge in energy, biotech

By Zhu Bochen
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 2, 2021
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Southwestern China's Chengdu city has been working to enhance its research and development capacity in sustainable power systems and drive its biotechnology sector, in a bid to lead the country's development initiatives during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025).

These two fields, though seemingly unrelated, have both offered tremendous opportunities for the city's companies, research institutes, and universities, creating the necessary space for them to tap into the potential of sci-tech innovation and collaboration.

Back in March 2016, Tsinghua University and Sichuan province established Sichuan Energy Internet Research Institute, an internet-based energy research institute, aiming to improve the country's energy planning capacity, facilitate the adjustment of its energy infrastructure and commercialize core technologies and research in the field.

Addressing the role it plays in China's carbon-neutral future, Liu Yi, deputy dean of the institute, told that the institute strikes a balance between research and development and fills the gap between universities and companies, providing energy-related academic breakthroughs to business partners while bringing industrial updates into campuses.

Liu Yi, deputy dean of Sichuan Energy Internet Research Institute, Tsinghua University, introduces its latest research to visiting expats on Sept. 28, 2021. [Photo provided to]

China's National Energy Administration announced earlier this year that it will take further steps to ramp up large-scale, high-quality and market-oriented renewable energy development and actively build a power system with new energy sources as its mainstay.

This means huge opportunities for the institute, especially for Chengdu, as the city has proposed measures to improve its power supply system and step up the construction of energy storage facilities and a smart grid.

Electricity is of vital importance for China as the country seeks to achieve its carbon neutrality goal. Liu explained that the effort to cut carbon emissions requires industrial production facilities to be powered by renewable energy, as well as residential homes. 

The institute has been working to carry out frontier research and industrial cultivation of the energy Internet, Liu said, adding that Chengdu's advantages in supporting policy, talent, and an industrial framework are significant to achieve this target.

Still, the institute is not the only establishment in Sichuan gleaning wisdom from cutting-edge fields. Fine medical resources from the West China Hospital, as well as chemical and biological researchers from Sichuan University, have also joined world-leading biotech companies.

For example, Chengdu-based biotech enterprise HitGen Inc, which aims to discover and develop innovative drugs based on its core platform of DNA encoded libraries, now has a research team of more than 500 scientists and offers a full set of research capabilities in the field. 

The company is also actively collaborating with pharmaceutical, biotech and chemical companies, as well as research institutes around the world to enable the discovery and development of novel medicines and agrochemicals.

Expats visit labs at HitGen in Chengdu, southwestern China's Sichuan province on Sept. 28, 2021. [Photo provided to]

Given the significant growth of biotech companies in the city, the biomedical industry has become a leading sector of the Chengdu Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone (CDHT). Statistics from the CDHT reveal that the scale of Chengdu's biomedical industry exceeded 60 billion yuan in 2020, of which the industrial output value above the designated size reached 26.6 billion yuan.

As China increases efforts to build the Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle, the city's biotech industry is expected to play an integral role in disseminating vital information across the country and bolstering the region's development.

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