In 2010, the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City (SSGKC) project was launched to leverage Singapore’s successful urban development experience towards the economic transformation of Guangdong, China, from manufacturing to a high value-added, knowledge-based economy.
Located on a 123-square kilometre greenfield site northeast of Guangzhou City, the SSGKC is a large-scale project that integrates a multitude of elements such as urban planning, human resources, economic development, business incubation and environmental management, while nurturing a harmonious community.
Established under an “enterprise-led, government-supported and market-driven” collaboration model with active involvement from the Chinese government, the SSGKC’s development was overseen by the Sino–Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City Investment and Development Co. Ltd (GKC Co.) – a 50–50 joint venture company formed by Singapore’s Ascendas-Singbridge and Chinese state-owned enterprises that came under the Guangzhou Development District Administrative Committee (GDDAC).
Early challenges, such as limited resource availability from the local government and threat of delays due to absence of policy support, were overcome by optimising the use of resources available at the district level and working within existing policies and procedures. Other challenges included differences in focus between the collaborating parties – the local authorities preferred physical developments to attract investments from Fortune 500 companies and the R&D industry, while GKC Co. preferred to focus first on creating a business-friendly environment across industries.
Singapore-style planning elements were used to integrate the development of SSGKC with its surrounding environment. Connectivity was maximised using a multi-pronged approach that has an efficient rail network as its backbone, with further improvements brought in by the construction of mass rapid transit, an inter-city high-speed rail and a network of expressways.
Innovative urban solutions in SSGKC include an exemplary Water Management System, the Common Services Tunnel for utilities and an integrated regional transport system that aims to achieve low carbon emissions. In addition, the SSGKC is envisioned as a Smart City pilot site and a testbed for innovative technologies, such as next-generation ICT, cloud computing and the Internet of Things, while adopting environmentally-friendly technologies for a conducive living environment.
Going forward, it is essential to sustain collaborations that facilitate exchange of knowledge and expertise, particularly in innovative urban solutions that can leverage the successful Singapore model, while keeping pace with the needs of a rapidly evolving Chinese market.