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Sci-tech Innovation
Yangpu District Creates “Suitable Forest” for Gra...
By Zhang Jun

On an “Afternoon Tea for Entrepreneurs” in IPO Club café on Daxue Road, Yangpu District, Zhao Shiyue sat on a bench in the crowd, with sweats on his forehead. He was surrounded by passionate young business starters like himself. An entrepreneur was making road show on the stage and talking about his project eagerly. Currently, Zhao Shiyue settled himself in the entrepreneurship incubation base for college students (young people) of Wujiaochang Sub-district. “Jian Xing”, an APP developed by his team, is at the stage of testing currently. “I come here to look for suitable resources for my APP and accumulate experiences for making road show in the future,” said Zhao.

Like Zhao Shiyue, many grassroots business starters choose to start up business in the entrepreneurship incubation base for young people in Yangpu District and achieve success. Yangpu District continues to upgrade entrepreneurship incubation bases in community and innovation and entrepreneurship blocks and contribute efforts to the construction for Shanghai Science and Technology Innovation Center. Yangpu District makes great efforts to construct a model area for popular innovation and create suitable “forest” for grassroots entrepreneurs.

Give opportunities to grassroots entrepreneurs for “testing mistakes”

Yangpu District has abundant resources of innovation and entrepreneurship. Many universities, research institutes and hi-tech enterprises are located in Yangpu District. But there is threshold for entrepreneurship, particularly for college graduates and grassroots entrepreneurs. Though they have passion for starting business, they always encounter various kinds of unexpected problems.

 “I wanted to start my own business since long time ago, but I was also worried about the high costs of founding my own company,” said Jiang Zhi. After making investigations in the entrepreneurship incubation base for young people in Yanji Sub-district, Jiang finally determined to start up his own business, because the costs for entrepreneurship are low here. He doesn’t need to pay rents every month. The incubation base provides accounting service to business starters. What he needs to do is to concentrate on entrepreneurship. Yanji Sub-district established its entrepreneurship incubation base for young people in April 2009. The sub-district allocated an idle property with 63 offices covering 2,300 square meters as the venue for the incubation base. So far, this incubation base has incubated 86 enterprises, creating jobs for more than 200 people.

Jiang Zhi, who majors in material sciences in university, used to be a teacher. As he recalled, “when he was doing experiments in the university, it was always tricky to look for experimental equipment.” Though in many universities, everyone could use experimental equipment freely. But it is difficult to get information, unless one gets along well with people who take charge of experimental equipment, and one has to make many phone-calls to apply for using experimental equipment. Jiang hopes to establish an O2O platform, “Super Labs”, to help users look for experimental equipment conveniently. “At the beginning, every business starter will face many problems, such as insufficient funds. If someone offers a helping hand to new business starters, it is like providing them with an opportunity for ‘testing’ their mistakes.”

According to policies of Yangpu District, an entrepreneurship park having passed the authorization of government could get 150,000 yuan to the maximum as subsidy for its expenses on constructing entrepreneurship nursery. For entrepreneurship organizations and new projects established by college students, they have the opportunity to get a subsidy of 50,000 yuan to the maximum from the government. Entrepreneurship organizations offering jobs to more than 3 people could get a subsidy of 5,000 yuan from the government.

 “Starting up your own business is a lonely process, but I’ve found my partners here,” said Qin Ming, a student of Shanghai University of Science and Technology. When partners for entrepreneurship get together, they would not only share experiences with each other, but would also encourage each other. Sometimes, when one person encounters a bottleneck in his project, by integrating his own resources with his partners’ resources, he would find out a solution rapidly. Qin Ming has completed merge and restructuring of his company with three partners. Now the company’s sales revenue continues to increase.

Infiltrate resources from universities and incubators into communities

Like community hospitals need to establish channels for “bi-directional diagnosis transfer” with Level-3 hospitals, entrepreneurship incubation bases in communities also need professional support. In Yangpu District, demonstration entrepreneurship parks for college graduates provide such professional support.

Liu Jianfeng, Head of Department of Business Start & Employment Assistance of China (Shanghai) Public Training Base for Entrepreneurs, said that the entrepreneurship demonstration park for college students should form a “1+X” entrepreneurship incubation alliance mechanism with entrepreneurship bases in sub-districts and towns. “1” refers to the entrepreneurship demonstration park for college students. “X” means sub-districts and towns in Yangpu District to integrate regional advantageous resources, give full play to features in community and build incubation parks in community. Both parties share resources of project, venue, event, service and information together. “By making innovation, we could break the tangible and intangible barriers between universities, entrepreneurship parks and communities, and form a micro ecology for innovation and entrepreneurship in communities in Yangpu District.”

Miyou Business & Travel Co., a company that has moved into “Wu-ling-zhi Scientific Industrial Park”, used to incubate a nursery in the entrepreneurship park for college students (young people) in Kongjiang Sub-district. In 2012, the Kongjiang Base joined the “1+X” system. The entrepreneurship park for college students provides various kinds of services, e.g. marketing, HR resource training, financing and investment, project declaration and legal consulting to nurseries in Kongjiang Sub-district and assists the sub-district to enhance service level and promote cluster effect in entrepreneurship nurseries. Zheng Hong, Chief Marketing Officer of Miyou, the company used to have a plan to settle in the demonstration entrepreneurship park for college students, but the base recommended Kongjiang Base to them. He visited the nursery and found out that though the scale of this base is small, it provides good services to entrepreneurs, and comparing with entrepreneurship parks serving several hundred enterprises, the sub-district provides “point to point” service to entrepreneurs. One year later, Miyou Business & Travel obtained six certifications of national computer software intellectual property rights. The company’s output in this year has reached 1 billion yuan. The company also plans to become a listed company in the next three years.

Enterprises incubated by sub-district entrepreneurship bases could also continue to incubate in demonstration parks. Due to expanding scale, Qin Ming moved his enterprise from Yanji to the entrepreneurship demonstration park for college students in Yangpu.

“The sub-district could accept out-flowing resources from entrepreneurship parks, and good service pattern in incubators could be applied in sub-districts,” said Xie Jihua, General Manager of Yangpu Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Company, who takes charge of the operation of the demonstration entrepreneurship park for college students. Since the sub-district entrepreneurship incubation base for young people started to operate two years ago, the sub-district has completed construction for 7 entrepreneurship parks covering over 10,000 square meters in total. 2 entrepreneurship parks under construction will also put into use soon. The entrepreneurship bases in Kongjiang Sub-district, Yanji Sub-district and Jiangpu Sub-district were awarded as “Model Entrepreneurship Incubation Bases of Shanghai”.

Add more innovative elements to the “forest” for entrepreneurship

The “forest” for grassroots entrepreneurs is not merely a physical space. It needs to gather various kinds of elements for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Wujiaochang Sub-district has become a hustle-and-bustle place, because the sub-district has organized various kinds of events for entrepreneurs, such as salon for entrepreneurs, story session on entrepreneurship and public-welfare show on entrepreneurship. “We create good environment for innovation and entrepreneurship by attracting professional, non-governmental organizations to join us,” said Li Zhengming, Director of Wujiaochang Sub-district Office. Now sub-districts do not have to shoulder the responsibility for attracting investment, therefore, they cut down the number of profitability-oriented services and concentrated more efforts on creating atmosphere for innovation and entrepreneurship and building ecology-based entrepreneurship communities.

“The sub-district does not need to seek entrepreneurs directly. These things could be done by entrepreneurship parks. The sub-district should do something that entrepreneurship parks can not do, such as enhancing the space of public service,” said Li Zhengming. In those representative blocks, e.g. Knowledge & Innovation Community on Daxue Road, the sub-district would enhance the openness of innovation and entrepreneurship service carrier through architectural design and renovation, cut down barriers in physical space, stimulate internal communication to integrate into communities, introduce diversified communication carriers, e.g. café and bookstores, build up dynamic special blocks for innovation and entrepreneurship, and form an ecological group of entrepreneurship. “As long as you take a seat there, you could talk about entrepreneurship and resource connection with others.” Apart from Daxue Road, East Guoding Road will also make adjustment on its business pattern and transform into a “street for entrepreneurship”. In this way, it will respond to the training base for entrepreneurs on the west side of Guoding Road and create better business environment for entrepreneurs.

In Yangpu District, more spatial resources will be replaced as carriers for innovation and entrepreneurship. Yangpu District government officials said that to build a “demonstration area of popular innovation”, Yangpu District will make use of various kinds of existing resources, e.g. land, old factory buildings and resources in industrial parks, promote integration, sharing, upgrading and transformation of various carrier resources, e.g. industrial parks, cultural creative parks, urban parks and economic parks, further explore potentials in old factory buildings and industrial parks and actively develop more carriers for innovation and entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, Yangpu District will construct more entrepreneurship spaces with low cost, convenience, full elements and openness, provide makers and newly started business with multi- functional venues for holding conferences, project road shows and events, and provide bearing areas to more scientific research findings transfer projects at the initial stage of development. 

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