On April 14th 2016, Premier Li Keqiang met visiting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Great Hall of the People. In the presence of the Premier and the PM, the Torch High-Tech Industry Development Center of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Torch Innovation Precinct.
Founded in 1949, the UNSW is a top research-intensive university in the Asia-Pacific region, attracting excellent students and staff from over 120 countries. The Torch Center was founded in 1989 under the Ministry of Science and Technology, committed to developing high technology and commercialization. It seeks to promote high-tech industrialization and internationalization and provide support for tech businesses in China. In the new era, the Center is working hard to deliver the initiative of Widespread Entrepreneurship and Innovation, contributing to the restructuring of China’s economy.
In September 2015, the UNSW President Ian Jacobs headed a delegation to the Ministry of Science and Technology. His delegation wished to team up with the Torch Center to build an innovation precinct on the UNSW campus. On January 21st 2016, President Ian Jacobs visited the Torch Center. Both sides reached a consensus on the project. The Torch precinct is to become a new platform for tech companies from China and Australia. It is to serve both Chinese and Australian businesses, scientists, investors and young entrepreneurs in the areas of energy, environment, advanced materials, and biotechnology. The precinct is to be built in two phases. First, an incubator of 1000 m2 would be founded in the Kensington Campus of the UNSW. Chinese partners could do R&D there and have their businesses take off in Australia. Second, in the Sydney-based UNSW campus, an area of 20,000 m2 would be used to build a consortium of labs, pilot-scale test venues, makerspaces, and incubators among other service platforms. The two areas combined are called the Torch Innovation Precinct with a vision to attract more Chinese tech businesses to Australia.
Under the leadership of the Department of International Cooperation of MOST, the Torch Center and the Australian side had further discussion. A meeting of potential partners was held at the Torch Center on March 1st 2016. The meeting introduced the project to Chinese tech companies. Information was provided for Chinese partners wishing to engage with the UNSW and seek further development in Australia. Participants included science parks and high-tech zones in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, such as the Beijing Zhongguancun Science Park, the Tianjin Binhai High-tech Industrial Development Area, the Shijiazhuang High-Tech Zone, and the Baoding National High-tech Zone. The Torch Center also consulted high-tech zones in Xi’an and Shenzhen to look for potential partners in fields of common interest. A total of 25 companies and institutions with proven technical strengths and keen interest in cooperation were invited to meet with the Australian side, including OriginWater, Fuchunjiang Group, and Shenzhou Digital.
The signing of the MOU is expected to expedite the project on innovation precinct, giving guidance to cooperation mechanism and future development.