China is investing huge sums in cutting-edge technologies, including the Internet of Things. The country’s innovative IoT solutions are internationally competitive – and are coming from small start-ups as well as large companies.
The Chinese IoT strategy we explored in a recent blog post is heavily inspired by the German concept Industry 4.0 and supports, among other initiatives, using robots, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), smart cities concepts and research for 5G wireless networks. These activities are joining those high-tech industries the country has built up in recent years. A good example is the telecommunications equipment maker Huawei, a leading firm from the economic hub Shenzhen.
KEY PLAYER HUAWEI BELIEVES IN IOT
At the beginning of the decade, few people outside China were familiar with the firm founded way back in the 1990s. But these days, Huawei is the third-largest smartphone maker worldwide and even takes the second spot in front of Apple in China. The global player is also an active network equipment provider making WiFi routers and LTE hardware. Another segment: creating solutions for the Internet of Things like an IoT platform for research and the development of NarrowBand-IoT networks.
START-UPS WITH FRESH IDEAS FROM ALL SECTORS
At the same time, start-ups and countless initiatives from more established technology companies are shaping the rapidly growing IoT sector in China. A few examples:
- Ayla Networks has created an IoT cloud platform tailored to the manufacturing industry. The company provides an end-to-end solution for IoT that includes an IoT kit for developers.
- Cambricon Technologies is a chip maker specializing in AI processors. The company is trying to reduce dependency on manufacturers like NVIDIA that still currently dominate the market for many Chinese products, including service robots.
- Lynk & Co. is a brand operated like start-up belonging to carmaker Geely, which also owns Volvo. It is focused on developing solutions for connected cars and apps for intelligent mobility services.
- Shenzhen Jimi IOT is manufacturer of GPS and wireless hardware that has built an IoT lab in Shenzhen. Among other activities, NarrowBand-IoT modules (NB-IoT) intended to allow the widespread monitoring of grazing livestock are tested there.
- Zhejiang Fonda Technology offers a solution based on NB-IoT for smart lighting in cities that aims to reduce energy consumption, enable remote control of lighting systems and immediately recognize malfunctions. More than 80 cities around the world already rely on the system, according to the company.
CORE REGIONS FOR EXPANSION OF THE INTERNET OF THINGS
These initiatives and start-ups are receiving intensive support from the state. Its IoT efforts are spread over four core regions with different areas of focus. The Jing-Jin-Ji metropolitan region is primarily working on the development of e-government initiatives and that’s no wonder – the area encompasses the Chinese capital Beijing. The Yangtze River Delta region with the important cities Shanghai and Nanjing is concentrating on the development of sensor networks.
The area surrounding the Cantonese Pearl River Delta with its electronics metropolis Shenzhen has been tasked with developing IoT hardware for the manufacturing sector. And Chengdu-Chongqing in western China is focused on IoT software, information services and sensors.
In Germany, state intervention stands for the opposite of innovation. But China has showed that it’s able to find a practical compromise between control and entrepreneurship. Business leaders in China are far more aggressive and radical than their Western counterparts.
“An advantage over Western countries is the lower regulatory burden and the speed of decision-making at Chinese companies and research institutions,” explains economist Röpke. “In China things are possible that are here subject to regulatory and ethical restrictions.”
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Digitization and the Internet of Things are among the favourite topics of Daniel Kunz. He has been with Deutsche Telekom since 2017 and regularly writes about technology trends and many exciting topics, especially for the retail trade and the logistics industry.