The authorities in Guangzhou have vowed to "significantly increase" their financial support of the science and technology sector over the next two years, as the traditional manufacturing and foreign trade hub continues to modernize.
The city's Mayor Chen Jianhua told an industry forum on Friday that the city government hopes to raise research and development's contribution to local GDP, to above both the national and provincial average.
Speaking at the second Guangzhou International Urban Conference, Chen said that much of the scientific manpower of Guangdong province is concentrated in Guangzhou, with 60 per cent of the province's colleges and universities, 77 per cent of its R&D institutes and all of its top State-owned laboratories based in the provincial capital.
"However, these resources have not been fully merged with the development of local industries," Chen said.
"Among industrial enterprises with annual revenue above 20 million yuan (S$4.2 million), the proportion of those with R&D operations has been lower than the country's average in recent years."
To rectify the situation, he said Guangzhou will vigorously promote the construction of platforms for innovation, including the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou, and branches of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the city, to focus particularly on biomedicine and healthcare, and industrial technology research.
The city also plans to expand the amount of incubator space dedicated to technology companies to 8 million square meters by 2016, and ensure that all local industrial enterprises with annual revenue more than 20 million yuan have their own R&D operations. Technology companies warmly welcomed the announcements.
Nie Delin, vice-general manager of Guangzhou Kingfa Science and Technology Co Ltd, a leading new materials developer and manufacturer, said: "We need more financial support from the government especially in big innovative projects that are starting a trend in an industry. These projects require long-term investments.
"We started a carbon fiber R&D programme in 2008 and just achieved preliminary results last year. The programme needs to continue and we are investing nearly 10 million yuan annually in it, without production reward yet," said Nie.
Kingfa currently invests 3 to 5 per cent of its annual revenue into R&D, or around 300 million to 500 million yuan.
Guangzhou's total industrial output is expected to be close to 1.7 trillion yuan this year, according to Chen. The output value of high-tech products by companies above that 20 million yuan mark was 756 billion yuan in 2013, or 43.7 per cent of the total.