Shenzhen has many empty offices as first link in global tech chains

Dhaka,  Fri,  28 July 2017
Published : 10 Jul 2017, 14:07:21
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Shenzhen has many empty offices as first link in global tech chains

For one of the buzziest, noisiest cities on the planet, pockets of Shenzhen can be eerily quiet. Listen closely, say some, and you will hear the hissing sound of a bubble inflating, reports a global media Monday.

Shenzhen, once a sleepy village and now Asia’s closest answer to Silicon Valley, is the first link in the global tech chain. It is where Apple and Google make smartphones and is home to social media group Tencent and DJI, the world’s biggest drone maker — and it hosts thousands of start-ups endeavouring to follow in these groups’ footsteps.

While China’s economy remains robust, pockets of froth are appearing, including in property and overseas acquisitions. And in tech, valuations of start-ups are being pushed higher by the government’s goal of building its prowess in the sector and a flood of venture capital riding on Beijing’s coat-tails.

According to official local media, the city of 11m has almost 450 incubators (or “maker spaces” as they are called locally) with a total 5.9m square metres of space — equivalent to more than two Empire State Buildings — housing more than 8,500 start-ups. More are on the way. Another 15 incubators are planned for Nanshan, the tech district, with the total expected to reach 1,000 by 2020, according to the local government’s 13th five-year plan.

The municipal government, taking its lead from Beijing, has eagerly poured money into the sector, through subsidies, tax breaks and swaths of office space for entrepreneurs.

In the 3W coffee shop, where a screen plays on-the-loop footage of the moment Premier Li Keqiang dropped by, tables are mostly empty on a weekday mid-afternoon visit. Upstairs, in one of the 28 multistorey towers that form the government-run Shenzhen Software Industrial Base, 3W’s own incubator space — housing 300 — is 90 per cent full.

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