| Innovation highlights Qingdao's economic future
The eastern coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong Province is keenly embracing the flagship policy of boosting "innovation" and "entrepreneurship" amid lackluster global economic growth.
According to a recent news release on Qingdao's economic performance in H1, "innovation, entrepreneurship and startups" are bringing tangible benefits to the city, which is known for its high technology, marine economy, and transportation and tourism industries.
In the first half of this year, 11,824 patents were filed, up by 30.3 percent year-on-year, of which 3,335 have been certified. Up to 3,077 startups are under the auspices of government-driven business incubators and over 589 companies have been officially spun off.
To bolster innovation and entrepreneurship, the port city has put forward 470 million yuan, approximately US$ 70.41 million, in mortgage loans, as well as 150 million yuan, or US$ 22.47 million, in subsidies and allowances for early start-ups, echoing the central government's commitment to create an amicable environment for innovation and entrepreneurship in order to power growth and generate jobs.
In addition to government efforts, leading companies are also fostering platforms offering low-cost services in a variety of areas to micro-businesses and individual start-ups that demonstrate innovation.
Haier, the Qingdao-based home appliances manufacturer, has been working on this front since 2014, when it founded Hai Chuanghui Investment Management, or iHaier, to build an open business incubating platform for both its employees and any "makers" working on innovative projects.
"iHair has developed over 1,500 projects and incubated 2,500 micro-businesses on its platform with support from 1,322 venture capital firms or individuals, " said Liu Changwen, general manager of iHaier.
"For startup teams inside Haier alone, there are now over 200 projects underway, including 100 registering yearly sales revenue of over 100 million yuan, or US$ 14.98 million."
iHaier encourages any form of business venture as long as it suits its strategic orientation, including projects in smart home, financing, culture and real estate, he added.
Haier is among the 28 national demonstration bases for mass entrepreneurship and innovation approved by the General Office of the State Council in May of this year. It is also one of the only two bases that are from the private sector. The other one is the property and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group.
Qingdao's economic growth has outpaced most other cities in the country, registering a GDP expansion of 7.4 percent against an overall domestic growth of 6.7 percent.
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