ABB advises Shanghai to enhance competitiveness through innovation and digital transformation

“The expansion of the Shanghai free trade zone (FTZ) with the Lingang New Area is a great opportunity to further advance Shanghai’s and China’s position as a global leader in technology innovation,” said ABB Chairman and CEO Peter Voser at the 31th annual meeting of the International Business Leaders Advisory Council (IBLAC) for the Mayor of Shanghai today.

As the largest economic hub in China, Shanghai is a testament to the success of China’s innovation-driven development strategy. The Shanghai FTZ has played a vital role in attracting the investment and expertise that have made the city a global innovation hub that it is today. Given its critical role, the Shanghai FTZ should be benchmarked against the highest international standards and practices.

Combining ABB’s global perspective and local knowledge, Voser shared several best practices in his speech including Singapore’s approach in supporting research and innovation, Denmark’s measure to drive its digital transformation, and Switzerland’s initiatives to create a favorable environment for talent attraction and cultivation. In addition, he put forward practical suggestions for the further development of Shanghai.

Shanghai has become one of the most innovative cities and attracted multinationals including ABB to expand investment here. As a global technology leader with a history of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB regards innovation as a key to its employees' values and has continuously improved its local R&D capabilities in China. For example, the ABB Robotics R&D team in Shanghai has participated in the development of small robots for 3C industries.

To further improve its innovation capabilities, Voser advises Shanghai to develop its research and innovation ecosystem through a comprehensive, government-led campaign, including steadily increasing public investment in R&D, offering incentives to multinationals, and encouraging live testing and cross-industry research.

“An innovation ecosystem requires first and foremost an attractive environment for high-tech companies, including good infrastructure, minimal bureaucracy, business-friendly tax structures, and a strong intellectual property regulatory framework.” said Voser, “To foster an innovation ecosystem, the government should help companies access expertise and support to develop their operations and encourage a vibrant start-up scene.”

Voser: “We are pleased to see that Shanghai has rolled out new policies to lure scientific research talent.” He also highlighted the pivotal role that talent will play in the new round of development in Shanghai FTZ, “Creating the right conditions for innovation will attract talent from elsewhere but maintaining innovation leadership requires homegrown talent.”

Throughout China’s extensive growth in the past several decades, Shanghai has served as a powerful engine for the Chinese economy and a trailblazer for China’s reform and opening-up. The recent expansion of Shanghai FTZ offers a grand platform for Shanghai to carry out a new round of opening-up and will inject fresh vitality into Shanghai’s further development.

“We are honored that ABB has been in this city since the beginning of its industrialization and established our first joint venture in Shanghai in 1994. We have been growing together with Shanghai and have been engaged in many marvelous projects,” said Voser. Today, Shanghai is one of ABB’s most important manufacturing and R&D bases with around 6,000 employees working in this international metropolis, making the largest number for ABB around the world.

In 2018, ABB and the Shanghai municipal government signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Cooperation in the fields of industry, energy, transport and infrastructure. Last month, ABB broke ground for its most advanced and flexible robotics Factory of the Future and R&D facilities in Shanghai, aiming to support the advancement of Shanghai's high-end manufacturing, the construction of a science and technology innovation center, and the promotion of the city's growth and core competitiveness.

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a technology leader that is driving the digital transformation of industries. With a history of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB has four customer-focused, globally leading businesses: Electrification, Industrial Automation, Motion, and Robotics & Discrete Automation, supported by the ABB Ability™ digital platform. ABB’s Power Grids business will be divested to Hitachi in 2020. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 147,000 employees. ABB has a full range of business activities in China, including R&D, manufacturing, sales and services, with near 20,000 employees located in more than 130 cities, 44 local companies, and online and offline channels across around 700 cities.

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