German enterprises help city pave its path to prosperity

Release time:2019.04.29

By Yuan Shenggao | China Daily

In February, German company Multivac, one of the leading global providers of packaging solutions for food, life science and healthcare products, set up its first research and manufacturing base in China in Taicang of eastern Jiangsu province.


The county-level city has attracted more than 300 German companies so far, and they have invested an aggregate of $4.5 billion, producing more than 50 billion yuan ($7.5 billion) industrial output annually, to make it a successful model for Sino-German cooperation, official figures show.


The cooperation laid its roots in 1993, when Kern-Liebers, a leading global maker of highly complex strip and wire parts and assemblies, became the first German company to make a small investment, thereby testing the Taicang market.


Executives of the company were soon impressed by the friendly and efficient government of Taicang as well as the livable environment, and they started to increase their investment. A number of German big names, including Schaeffler and Siemens, came later.


The official figures indicate that it took 14 years for the city to attract the settlement of the first 100 German companies, another six years for the second batch of 100, and just five years for the third batch.

The presence of German companies has attracted and nurtured more than 400 local private companies to provide supporting manufacturing and services, which keep growing with these German companies and upgrading their facilities and management to be smarter, more automatic and digitalized.


Over the years, the city has attached much more importance to luring German companies with fame and influence in the global industry and that are representatives of Industry 4.0, as well as manufacturing leaders of a large enough scale to have an impact on the local industry in Taicang, government officials said.


"We are taking every strategic opportunity arising from the integration of Chinese manufacturing with Industry 4.0 of Germany," said Shen Mi, Party secretary of Taicang.


The German companies in Taicang provided Industry 4.0 samples for the local companies to follow. In return, the local manufacturers provide better support and services to the German company, forming a healthy industrial development environment.


In 2018, the Taicang government's investment in technical improvement rose 3.6 percent year-on-year to meet the rising demand for intelligent manufacturing.


So far, the city has developed 21 demonstrative smart workshops at city and province levels - which should meet a series of strict requirements for automation and intelligentized innovation, such as smart equipment, interconnection of different equipment, real-time scheduling and automatic materials distribution. They are followed by a big number of local small manufacturers.


In addition, the city introduced a dual education system from Germany to train talent and quench the manufacturing industry's thirst for skillful workers. The system combines apprenticeships in a company and vocational education at a vocational school in one course.


So far, the local government, which has played a leading role in the training system and encouraging the participation of private educational companies, has set up nine such training bases. They can provide multi-tier talent from graduates of secondary specialized schools and junior colleges to undergraduates.


Meanwhile, scientific institutes in Taicang, such as the branches of the Institute of Computing Technology of Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics of Chinese Academy of Sciences, also trained a pool of talents in the sectors of intelligent equipment, electric automation, industrial control, software and integrated circuits.


Shen said it remains an important development strategy of the city to strengthen cooperation with Germany, adding that city will carry out more innovative and industrial cooperation with German companies, enhance the exchanges with German cities and further deepen the reform and opening-up.


Matthias Mueller, general manger of Taicang German Center, a nonprofit organization that aims to help German businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises investing overseas, said the communication with Taicang government is very smooth, just like that in a big family. Both sides look for help and support from each other when encountering problems, he noted.


In 2016, Bayerische Landesbank set up a German Centre for Industry and Trade in Taicang, the eighth of its kind globally and the third in China, following Beijing and Shanghai.


"Taicang is the only city that attracts so many German companies in China," said Mueller, mentioning that all other seven German Centers were set up in capital cities or major economic areas.


He said that the convenient traffic, the favorable policies, fund support and the livable environment would continue to make Taicang a popular place for German companies.


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