Shanghai, aiming to become China's top tech city, has honoured 40 firms as its inaugural tech champions. This prestigious list includes the US-sanctioned AI enterprise SenseTime and the renowned gaming studio miHoYo, creators of the international hit Genshin Impact.
Recognising innovation across key sectors
These 40 Shanghai-based companies span four essential sectors: semiconductors, biotech, AI, and the digital economy. These sectors are Shanghai's focus for future growth. The city's Mayor, Gong Zheng, acknowledged these companies' contributions by awarding them certificates in a special ceremony, underlining their role in the city's technological advancement.
The list includes Shanghai Micro Electronics Equipment (SMEE), a hopeful in the advanced semiconductor tool sector, along with Jaka Robotics, Xiaodu Technology, and the popular video-sharing platform Bilibili. These companies are now eligible for various incentives, from rent refunds to research subsidies.
Challenges amidst opportunities
Not all is smooth sailing for these tech champions. SMEE, for instance, needs help to produce China's first 28-nanometre lithography machine, trailing behind global competitors. SenseTime, which once led Asia's AI sector, has experienced a significant drop in its stock value and faces profitability challenges.
Conversely, miHoYo has emerged as a rapidly advancing gaming developer, gaining global fame with Genshin Impact. PDD Holdings, which recently overtook Alibaba Group Holding in market value but has shifted some of its operations from Shanghai to Dublin, is missing from the list.
Shanghai's tech aspirations
Shanghai showcases its determination to become a digital powerhouse by selecting these companies. In a policy document released in February, the city detailed its strategy, offering substantial subsidies to eligible companies. These incentives include up to 5 million yuan (US$700,000) for firms with significant capital and new offices in the city, alongside rent subsidies.
As China ramps up its focus on AI and other high-tech fields, Shanghai positions itself at the forefront of this development. With its 2023-2025 digital economy master plan, Shanghai aims to transition from a financial hub to a leader in digital innovation within China.