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Riding wave of potential in marine economy

By Yuan Shenggao | (China Daily) | 2020-09-29

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Qingdao's West Coast New Area hosts the East Asia Marine Cooperation Platform Qingdao Forum last week. MENG JUNTAO/FOR CHINA DAILY

The recent East Asia Marine Cooperation Platform Qingdao Forum, held in Qingdao, Shandong province, attracted participants from more than 70 countries and regions.

Despite the impact of COVID-19,12 maritime industrial projects were signed and 12 high-tech startup business projects inked at the forum's opening on Sept 22.

The fruitful event has put its host, the West Coast New Area, into the limelight.

As the first marine economy-themed national new area approved by the State Council, China's Cabinet, Qingdao's West Coast New Area has made full use of the forum to gather various resources including industrial projects, capital, professionals and technologies, in a bid to inject vigor into the development of the marine economy.

On the opening day alone, the 12 maritime industrial projects signed involve a total investment value of 45.1 billion yuan ($6.61 billion).They cover a variety of sectors including advanced offshore machinery, oceanic biopharmaceuticals, marine information and maritime protection.

"Exhibitions and conferences are increasingly becoming a crucial platform to attract investment and high-level professionals," renowned economist Xiang Songzuo said. "Qingdao's West Coast New Area has unique advantages in this regard."

Local authorities prioritized 167 key industrial projects from the 770 companies that took part in the forum, to help them secure investment. The organizers said they selected 16 marine economy-related businesses as key potential cooperation partners, providing them with priority services.

During the forum, the Global Marine Intelligent Tech Innovation and Entrepreneurship Contest opened, with three candidates awarded top prizes.

One of the three winners was an intelligent aerial work robot project. Using innovative wall-climbing technology, the robot can remove rust on vessels using a high-pressure water jet.

"The robot can be applied to shipbuilders and the West Coast New Area is home to an industrial cluster of shipbuilding and ocean engineering," said Xu Huayang, the team leader.

Since the contest started in April, it has received 192 high-tech and high-growth potential entries. Of them, four were signed during the forum and more than 20 were expected to have further talks with the West Coast New Area, local media reported.

Hu Zhipeng, deputy director of the area's recruitment center, said local authorities have formulated a special policy to reward high-tech startup business leaders, including 1 million yuan in government financial aid for research and development and 300,000 yuan for housing.

Another highlight of the forum was the East Asia Marine Expo 2020, which attracted a host of companies involved in marine businesses to showcase their latest technologies and products.

Among them was DJI, one of the world's largest drone makers. The company's M300RTK drone was on display and it can be widely used in offshore biological monitoring, and oil and gas equipment inspection. It can also generate data for analysis based on pictures and images it has taken, thus providing technical support for marine monitoring, according to a staff member.

Liu Hongkan, deputy general manager of Huangfa Group, which was the organizer of the expo, said more than 770 exhibitors showcased some 50,000 products in the 60,000-square-meter exhibition area, including more than 15 Fortune Global 500 companies, key research institutions and other industrial leaders.

In addition to marine biopharmaceuticals, shipping, trade and finance-traditionally strong sectors of the West Coast New Area-a new session of seaweed and health was added to this year's forum agenda.

Experts and business representatives from around the world discussed the development trends in active substances from algae and seaweed bio-products.

The forum released a report on seaweed bio-industrial development, aimed at promoting technological progress in the maritime industry and improving its growth.