Greenland Group has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Suzhou government to invest over RMB 100 billion ($14.55 billion) into a series of real estate projects pegged to promote artificial intelligence, high technology and new buildings in the eastern China city.
According to a news release published on the Suzhou government website, Shanghai’s largest developer is teaming up with the government of the conurbation of nearly 11 million people to create a high tech city in the Wujiang town.
Turning an Industrial City Intelligent
The new economic development zone plans to follow in the footsteps of Suzhou Industrial Park by promoting investments in artificial intelligence, life sciences and other technology in what is now a popular warehouse location. According to the agreement, the total investment of the high-tech city will reach RMB 50 billion.
Greenland Group, which not long ago was one of China’s most aggressive cross-border investors, seems to be following a new trend among mainland developers of combining development of new apartments and commercial buildings with towns and districts pegged to the latest tech trends.
Greenland rival Country Garden announced last week that it would build a robot valley in Foshan, which will see the company invest at least RMB 80 billion into the 10-square-kilometre industrial park and related high-tech industries.
Greenland Gets More Value From $47M Investment
To add some high-tech street-cred to its initiatives, Greenland has also invited AI and smart retail company DeepBlue Technology, which received $47 million in financing from the developer in April of this year, to participate in the project, as well as bringing on board the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
At the time that it invested in the Jack Ma-backed retail tech firm, Greenland agreed with Deep Blue to jointly set up new businesses developing robots and AI-driven home furnishings, leveraging the Internet of Things.
The pair will set up two new units for the development of robots and AI furnishings, the Shanghai-based property firm said. DeepBlue Architectural Technology Ltd. will explore Internet of Things and AI applications for buildings and furniture, while Greenland DeepBlue Robot Technology Ltd. will make automation solutions for logistics, healthcare, and education.
Planning a 4 Million Square Metre AI City
The high-tech city less than 30 minutes from Shanghai by high speed train will cover four million square metres of land with a total construction area of five million square metres, according to the statement
The area’s leading industry will be AI and life science and will implement the research result into the city’s lifestyle, city management and transportation. Apart from the land used for research purposes, the high-tech city also has plans for residential properties, an element in line with developer’s strategy of adding value to its residential projects through high tech investments in the area.
Besides the high-tech city, Greenland will also invest RMB 50 billion in real estate development around Suzhou’s three other high-speed railway stations. The agreement didn’t disclose a timeline, but it said the project around Suzhou North Station will begin construction later this year.
Greenland has been exploring options in the high-speed railway economy since the beginning of this year. In less than eight months, the Shanghai-based real estate developer has acquired land around railway stations in 17 cities. Although high-speed railway stations are usually located in suburban areas, the properties can be popular because of the convenient access to a network of railways that span the country.
Greenland’s Technology Revolution
In recent years, a number of traditional real estate developers have sought investment and development opportunities in non-real estate fields such as agriculture, electric cars and automation. Greenland has been especially interested in AI and robotics, according to company chairman Zhang Yuliang.
After buying into Deep Blue earlier this year, the developer set up joint ventures with its new partners, including Greenland DeepBlue Construction Technology and Greenland DeepBlue Robot Technology. The two companies are controlled by Greenland Group but developed in cooperation with DeepBlue.
Greenland has already invited DeepBlue Technology to be one of the main operators of the new high-tech city in the future where it would contribute to AI and robotics development.
Earlier this year, Greenland also established a science and technology financial alliance with several other financial institutions. The alliance aims to raise funds for over 200 innovative technology projects, including Fudan University’s Brain Chip project and Shanghai Jiatong University’s research into essential oils.
Beyond external cooperation, Greenland established its own science and technology sector in March last year. The sector focuses on five major industries: life sciences, AI, robotics, culture and creativity, and technology finance. The developer has already signed some strategic cooperation agreements with domestic universities and research institutions.