Saturday July 2, during the “Forum Franco-chinois des futurs dirigeants d’entreprises scientifiques et technologiques” (the Franco-Chinese Forum for Future Leaders in Science and Technology), the Business and Science Parks Sophia Antipolis and Chengdu (Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone) signed several agreements in the presence of Madam Yadong Liu, Vice Prime Minister and representative for the Ministry of Innovation of the People’s Republic of China.
Yadong Liu’s visit to France proved to be the perfect occasion to sign two agreements while on the Skema campus. The first agreement designates the Business and Science Parks of Sophia Antipolis and Chengdu as Sister Parks. The second agreement deals with the development of the “Sophia Antipolis-China Innovation Center”, a center that aims at supporting young innovators and Chinese-French technological projects. These agreements pave the way for a systematic and “pragmatic cooperating” (Yadong Liu) between Sophia Antipolis and Chengdu in the fields of innovation, commerce and investment.
Sophia Antipolis and the Chengdu Technology Park will function as a national base for their foreign counterparts. Both parks plan on increasing the number of seminars, conferences, matchmaking sessions, and entrepreneurial forums between their two ecosystems with the aim of increasing Chinese-French collaboration in the fields of Information Technology, cleantech and Biomedicine. There will also be training sessions and researchers and entrepreneurs will be able to visit their counterparts in their local park.
The signing of the agreements took place in the presence of Adolphe Colrat, Prefect of the Alpes Maritimes, and Pierre Laffitte the founding father of Sophia Antipolis. Laffitte was very excited by the prospect of a blossoming collaboration with Chengdu and affirmed the wish of Sophia Antipolis to contribute to the “new silk road” between China and the western world.
In addition to the signing of the two agreements, the “Forum Franco-chinois des futurs dirigeants d’entreprises scientifiques et technologiques,” organised by the Sophia Antipolis Foundation, the technology park of Chengdu and the Chengdu EU Project Innovation Center (EPIC), gave young Chinese and Côte d’Azur entrepreneurs to meet and exchange. French companies ASK, SolarCloth and Cynsis were present to talk about the dynamic and innovative ecosystem of the Côte d’Azur, and identify future partners with Chinese companies that were present: Business Big Data (Big Data, Fintech), Chengdu Everimaging Science and Technology (digital imaging) and Sichuan AOS Science and Technology (drones).
Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone is one of the largest Technology Parks in China. The park is in the Sichuan District, which attracts more foreign investment than any other Chinese district and counts more than 2000 labs, 168 incubators and 2.8 million professionals working in high technology fields. Chengdu and Sichuan also receive support from the Chinese government in developing 7 High-Tech Zones and 9 Agricultural Innovation Zones (looking at energy transition) in the district. The cooperation between Sophia Antipolis and Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone will give opportunities to Côte d’Azur researchers and entrepreneurs to position themselves in the middle of a dynamic economy strategically located on the new silk road.
Two other events happened at Sophia Antipolis during Yadong Liu’s visit that are proof of an increasing collaboration between China and the Côte d’Azur:
- The Chinhui Cup or the “Chinese-French Symposium of Young Entrepreneurs and Innovation,” a competition organised by the Chinese Minister of Education and the Chinese Minister of Science and Technology that recognizes Chinese inventors living abroad, and offers them financial support for their projects in China.
- Chinese Matchmaking, a partnership between the Enterprise Europe Network and the European Commission, that allowed large companies and entrepreneurs to learn about the possibilities of Chinese-French co-investments.
These events echo the stated desire of the Côte d’Azur to have China be its leading foreign investor by 2020 and to cross-fertilize Chinese and Côte d’Azur innovations.