Chengdu: China’s Booming Innovation Hub


In the 2020 Globalization and World Cities Research Network report, which ranks global cities in terms of their advanced producer services, Chengdu jumped to the highly regarded Beta+ level, coming in 59th worldwide. Chengdu, also known as Rong, is the capital city of Sichuan Province. Besides being a major center of finance, science and technology in Western China, an international gateway and a world-famous cultural city, it is also one of China’s most innovative hubs. In 2020, its regional GDP stood at 1.8 trillion yuan (US$274.7 billion), up 4% year on year.

The trailblazing spirit of Chengdu dates back more than 2,000 years—it has a rich heritage of vision and the courage to persevere. From the city’s Dujiangyan irrigation system, the first-ever to achieve flood control without the use of dams, to its world-first adoption of woodblock printing and paper money, to its involvement in China’s first 5G network, groundbreaking ideas and inventions have flourished in this vibrant city.

Chengdu has an international outlook and is seeking a more active presence in the global economy. As one of the nation’s first innovative pilot cities and innovation demonstration zones, Chengdu shoulders the strategic mission of fostering China’s high-tech ambitions, and aims to become a global innovation hub.

As the first Chinese city to put forth a systematic proposal to develop a new economy, Chengdu has taken the lead in implementing measures to support the nation’s pursuit of high-quality growth. In 2017, Chengdu identified six new areas of focus: the digital economy, the intelligent economy, the green economy, the creative economy, the web traffic economy and the sharing economy. Its goal is to have a globally competitive and regionally significant new economy by 2022, with its output value exceeding 500 billion yuan (US$77.5 billion) and economic aggregates ranking among the top performers nationwide.

Kuanzhai Alley
Panda sculpture at Chengdu IFS

Loop of Wisdom, Tianfu New District
Jinli Ancient Street

Business & Innovation Centre for China-Europe Cooperation
First International Blockchain Industry Expo

As a strategic focal point for the city’s new economy initiatives, Chengdu Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone (CDHT) is spearheading the development of cutting-edge technologies, such as 5G communications, AI, big data, netcasting and animation production, attracting Alibaba, Baidu, Kuaishou, iQiyi and other industry giants to settle in the area. CDHT is home to more than 180 firms focused on 5G or AI, who generated a total of 11.2 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion) in revenue in the first half of 2020. In the netcasting and animation production industries, CDHT supports over 600 companies. Over the same period, their combined revenue totaled 22.1 billion yuan (US$3.4 billion).

The releasing of China’s first 5G+8K Ultra HD New Scene White Paper
BOE Optoelectronics Technology at CDHT’s West Park

Chengdu-Chongqing Twin City Economic Circle, the coordinated regional development of the two cities, was proposed amid major shifts in the global landscape. Amid these significant and complex changes, the Chengdu-Chongqing area has become “the fourth pole of China’s economic growth” after the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. It is expected to support the high-quality development of advanced technology across the country, with the twin aims of tackling unbalanced growth and boosting China’s dual circulation strategy—shifting the focus to domestic consumer spending and placing less reliance on exports.

What’s more, Chengdu is the first city in China to fully embrace new urban planning concepts with its vision of becoming a “park city.” From the initial concept to building a park city demonstration zone with green and sustainable practices in mind, Chengdu is actively promoting ecological values in a high-quality urban development. Under the framework of the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle, the park city demonstration zone is key to Chengdu’s efforts to attract people and industries and become a world-class city.

Among its accolades, Chengdu has appeared on several Forbes China lists, including Best Cities For Business, Top 30 Most Innovative Chinese Cities and Best Cities for Living. Top young entrepreneurs from Chengdu were also among the 2020 Forbes China 30 Under 30.

2020 Forbes China 50 Most Innovative Companies

Chocolate Cartoon, Chengdu

Chocolate Cartoon’s Ne Zha, an animated film jointly presented by Coloroom Pictures and October Media, broke more than 30 industry records in China. It took in over 5 billion yuan (US$775.5 million) at the box office, making it the country’s highest grossing animated film and the second-highest grossing film ever.

2020 Forbes China Up-and-Comers


Sinoseal Holding

ALD Aviation Manufacturing

Sichuan Haite High-Tech

Tianli Education

2020 Forbes China 30 Under 30


Li Ruihao, CEO
Sichuan Weishu Lifang Education

Luo Yuyang, Cofounder
Sichuan Weishu Lifang Education

Richard Chen, Cofounder
Mint Consultancy

Zeng Xi, Founder

Sun Qiangqiang, Associate Professor/Ph. D Supervisor
Southwest Jiaotong University

Tong Xin, Ph. D. Supervisor
University of Electronic Science and Technology of China

2020 Forbes China Innovation Summit

The 2020 Forbes China Innovation Summit, held in Chengdu Oct. 29-30 under the theme “New Breakthroughs in Global Innovation,” was hailed as a success. Jointly organized by Forbes China and the Chengdu Municipal Government for the past three years, the event aims to highlight innovative achievements and breakthroughs, and share visions and insights about how urban innovation drives the modern development of cities and their surrounding regional economy.

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