China’s traditional property developers are now seeking opportunities in providing affordable accommodation for startups and entrepreneurs with the concept of city-industry integration. This reflects the national strategy of promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.
Country Garden, one of the mainland’s leading residential developers, announced it will invest 100 billion yuan ($15.02 billion) in the next five years to develop at least three “Tech Towns” surrounding first-tier cities. These offer low-cost accommodation, office buildings and technology learning centers to entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and corporate partners.
"We are now living a life that is better than any emperors in ancient times, thanks to modern technology,” said Country Garden founder Yang Guoqiang at a press conference in Guangdong on Tuesday.
"But high house prices are unbearable for tech workers in the first-tier cities, such as Shenzhen, so we want to provide affordable houses for them. Houses in Tech Towns will only cost one-third of the price compared to those in the first-tier cities.”
He said the idea of “Tech Town” also corresponds with the innovation and the entrepreneurship strategy vigorously promoted by the central government.
Guangdong-based Country Garden will also cooperate with local governments to win preferential policies for Tech Towns, but the details are under discussion at present.
Located in key second-tier cities surrounding first-tier cities, Tech Towns usually occupy an area of 20,000 to 50,000 square kilometers. There are three Tech Towns in the plan now. They are all located in Guangdong province, with one in Huidong county and two in Huizhou city.
Although the plan has just been rolled out, Country Garden is confident that Tech Towns will bring long-term economic benefit to the company.
“Tech Town will generate long-term profits, as it is not just a property project, but a full coverage of all the value chain of incubating startups,” said Xiang Junbo, assistant president of Country Garden. “In addition, with the support of local governments, Tech Town will also enjoy preferential policies, and it is easier for the company to buy land from the government.”
"The biggest challenge for us is to attract outstanding startups into the town, so we are now cooperating with venture capitalist Lee Kai-Fu’s Innovation Works, Tsinghua University and Cisco Group to attract talents,” he added.
Besides the property developments, Country Garden will also invest at least 2 billion yuan to jointly set up an industry fund to finance startups in Tech Towns.