Chinese media reported on October 13 that Qianhai, a bustling development zone in southern China’s tech hub Shenzhen, had recently released a plan to set up a 10-billion-yuan (US$1.37 billion) fund to support the development of the local AI industry.
The Qianhai Administration of Shenzhen announced the goal on October 8 as part of a guideline aimed at fostering the AI industry.
One of the measures outlined in the guideline is to establish a template for AI applications, such as carrying out a pilot scheme for the commercialization of smart connected cars in Qianhai.
Once these pilots become mature enough, Qianhai will use them as examples for others to follow and replicate the successes elsewhere in Shenzhen and beyond.
Shenzhen received the greenlight in 2010 to set up Qianhai Special Economic Zone. The area was designed to improve the economic ties between Mainland China and Hong Kong, with a specific focus on the financial, logistics, and IT services sectors.
It covers an area of approximately 15 sqm.
Incentives for eVTOL firms
A highlight of Qianhai’s recent AI guideline is a focus on innovations in the eVTOL space.
According to the document, the area provides a slew of incentives for qualified eVTOL firms to expand their application scenarios.
For instance, one incentive is the pledge to reward companies that meet three criteria, namely, they must be headquartered in Qianhai, have airworthiness certificates, and are officially sanctioned to launch commercial flight paths in the area of aerial transportation, tourism and sightseeing and logistics.
Those who tick all these boxes are eligible for a one-off 2-million-yuan subsidy.
eVTOL is among the target segments the would-be 10-billion-fund is expected to support.
Known for its openness to tech innovation and pragmatism, Shenzhen has been leading the way to develop an urban air mobility network, with eVTOL at its core.
Officials close to the matter told local media that the mega-sized fund will gird public capital to gravitate toward star projects or startups in the AI realm, either through direct investment or contribution to a venture fund.
Fund operators are also invited to become cornerstone investors for companies in the IPO pipeline.
Largesse for the lucky few
Aside from financially backing eligible firms, Qianhai also looks to provide pre-listing tutoring services to outstanding AI businesses, enabling them to get funding from domestic or overseas capital markets。
Some of the intended beneficiaries of the official largesse will have to come from a select few backgrounds, such as airport, harbor, exhibition hall, smart manufacturing, finance, logistics, transportation, commerce, and culture and tourism, the guideline indicates.
“AI application projects that are chosen as demonstration cases by the Qianhai Administration stand to enjoy a cash reward equivalent to 10% of their original fundraising amount, with the sums capped at 2 million yuan,” the document says, adding that every year up to 10 projects will be on the receiving end of this windfall.