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    China’s inland rides waves of innovation, new opportunities

    ANN/CHINA DAILY – Coastal regions not the only stars when it comes to R&D, development An interesting shift is going on in China that many have failed to notice. The nation has long been known as an information technology manufacturing powerhouse, with coastal areas such as the Yangtze River Delta region and the Pearl River Delta region often seen as shining stars in global innovation and tech manufacturing road mapping.

    But as China pursues new opportunities in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, metaverse and smart manufacturing, the nation’s inland regions, which used to be spectators of pioneering reforms in Eastern China, are now also emerging as key incubators for innovation vital to growth over the next decade, experts said.

    Hefei, capital of Anhui province, for instance, is now a magnet for research and development staff and companies that are dedicated to exploring technologies such as AI. In 2021, the city was home to more than 840 AI-related companies, up 23.2 per cent year-on-year, data from the local government shows.

    Meanwhile, more than 860 new companies have been registered in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province in northeastern China, in the past two years to do robotics research, up from a combined 170 in the four years before that, according to data from Qichacha, a data bank that tracks business registration information in China.

    Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi province in East China, is also catching up. The city said this year it will build a pilot zone for metaverse, one of the hottest tech buzzwords, which will feature a combination of virtual reality software and hardware companies.

    The plan came after Jiangxi has worked hard to cultivate its VR industry in recent years. The province has already attracted more than 400 companies, including international heavyweights such as Qualcomm Inc and Microsoft Corp, as well as Chinese Internet behemoths Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei to set up local VR businesses.

    “A friendly competition of sorts is unfolding among major Chinese inland cities as they are scrambling to sharpen their edges, striving for growth opportunities in the era of innovation-driven development,” said Director of the planning institute at the China Center for Information Industry Development Cheng Nan.

    A visitor experiences Huawei VR Glass set. PHOTO: CHINA DAILY
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