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When innovation can't be penned in

January 03, 2019 |

The former site of a prestigious Shanghai pen factory is set to be redeveloped into an innovation hub for Chinese and Israeli high-tech companies.

The Shanghai Hero Pen Factory, a brand dating back to the 1930s, will be the first phase of the China-Israel (Shanghai) Innovation Harbor, the district government of Putuo said yesterday.

The district has preserved the original buildings and layout of the 1954 factory.

About 7,500 square meters of the historical buildings will house the first batch of enterprises in the innovation park, the district government said.

The structure of the buildings at 127 Qilianshan Road will be reinforced but their historical appearance retained.

One of the buildings has been turned into an exhibition hall displaying plans for the surrounding Taopu Smart City, a developing business district featuring smart and innovation enterprises.

The exhibition will be renewed for the innovation park. It will feature digital facilities as well as conference and exhibition spaces outlining cultural and scientific exchanges between China and Israel.

Cao Liqiang, Party chief of Putuo, yesterday inspected the redevelopment of the site, which he said was at the top of the agenda for 2019.

China and Israel announced a comprehensive partnership during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Beijing in March 2017.

The innovation hub in Putuo is part of the partnership.

To attract Israeli companies to the park, the district hosted a Sino-Israel entrepreneurship contest last month for start-up tech firms from Israel. About 300 Israeli enterprises registered for the competition and 28 made it into the finals.

Putuo has launched a Sino-Israel Innovation Fund with an initial 1 billion yuan (US$146 million) to mainly support new startups.

The first batch of companies and agencies to set up in the innovative park can also enjoy exemptions on district-level taxes for three years, along with lease-free policies and decoration subsidies, the district government has said.

The Hero Pen factory features the different industrial building styles from the 1950s and 1990s. The gold fountain pens manufactured there were once presented as national gifts to foreign leaders.

Surrounding Taopu was among the first batch of chemical industrial parks in Shanghai. Set up in 1954, the development of industrial enterprises was at its peak in the 1980s.

However, rapid industrial development also resulted in pollution. To restore the area’s environment, the district has relocated most of the former factories and is converting the industrial land into a 500,000-square-meter park. Roads, pavements and general environment around the innovation park will also be upgraded.