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Top 10 Chinese Cities for AI Development: Beijing Ranks No. 1

China’s goal of becoming the world’s leading AI innovation center by 2030 is based on an ambitious blueprint that encourages individual cities to develop and strengthen AI ecosystems.

China’s goal of becoming the world’s leading AI innovation center by 2030 is based on an ambitious blueprint that encourages individual cities to develop and strengthen their AI ecosystems with the help of academic institutions, tech enterprises, and hefty local and national government investment.

Beijing and Hangzhou top a new ranking of China’s top 10 cities for AI development and potential. The list was compiled by marketing intelligence company International Data Corporation and Chinese cloud computing provider Inspur, based on five evaluation metrics: policy, macro economy, large tech enterprises, talent, and innovation.

No. 1 – Beijing

AI companies: Baidu,, Bytedance, SenseTime, Megvii

Top universities: Tsinghua University, Peking University


  • Beijing released China’s first guidelines on autonomous vehicle road tests;
  • Google opened its first artificial intelligence research lab in Beijing;
  • Beijing housed China’s first national laboratory for deep learning led by Baidu;
  • Beijing has more than 1,000 AI companies;
  • Baidu opened the country’s first AI park in Beijing.

No.2 – Hangzhou City

AI companies: Alibaba

Top universities: Zhejiang University


  • Over 1,100 AI-related patents have been submitted by Hangzhou-based companies and institutes;
  • Alibaba’s smart city project “City Brain 2.0” is widely deployed in Hangzhou City.

No.3 – Shenzhen

AI companies: Tencent, Huawei,


  • Shenzhen established the Peng Cheng Laboratory to advance research in AI, network communication and cyberspace security;
  • Self-driving public buses have operated on Shenzhen streets since 2017.

No. 4 – Shanghai

AI companies: Yitu Tech, Liulishuo, Squirrel AI

Top universities: Fudan University, Shanghai Jiaotong University


  • Shanghai Zhangjiang “Hi-Tech Park” clusters a wide range of AI research and activities and hosts many tech firms;
  • Shanghai has designated public roads in the Lingang Area for self-driving testing;
  • Tech titans Microsoft, Amazon, Alibaba and Tencent are opening or expanding AI research centres in Shanghai.
  • At the recent World Artificial Intelligence Conference, Shanghai signed over 70 major AI and 5G partnership deals with leading tech companies and institutions.

No. 5 – Guangzhou

AI companies: Pony AI, CloudWalk, WeRide AI

Top universities: South China University of Technology


  • The robust economic growth of Guangzhou has created a favourable environment for AI development.
  • Guangzhou factories lead the country in vehicle production, giving the city an advantage in autonomous driving research and development.

No.6 – Hefei

AI companies: iFlytek

Top universities: University of Science and Technology of China


  • In 2017, China set up its first national laboratory for brain-like artificial intelligence technology in Hefei.
  • Hefei-based “Speech Valley” launched in 2013 and is China’s leading tech hub for speech and voice technology development. Speech Valley will accommodate over 1,000 enterprises by the end of 2020.
  • Huawei recently set up an AI research centre in Hefei.

No.7 – Suzhou

AI companies: Microsoft Asia-Pacific R&D, AISpeech


  • The Huawei Research Institute has invested CN¥2.7 billion in Suzhou for an innovation incubator platform.
  • Suzhou has an edge among Chinese cities in the areas of speech technology and service robots.
  • The government-backed China–Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park is a 288 km2 administrative area that is now home to more than 160 AI enterprises. The district aims to become a world-class high-tech industrial park by 2050.

No.8 – Chongqing


  • In the next three years, Chongqing will invest a total of more than CN¥5 trillion and set up more than 2,000 projects in eight fields, including big data, intelligent industry, urban construction, and international logistics.

No.9 – Nanjing

Top universities: Nanjing University


  • Nanjing has laid a solid foundation in AI education with its elite universities.
  • Nanjing is home to over 40 AI innovation R&D centres and 200 enterprises with a core focus on AI.

No.10 – Xi’an

Top universities: Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an University of Science and Technology


  • Xi’an now accommodates 120 AI enterprises with total revenue of CN¥10 billion.
  • The Western China Science & Technology Innovation Harbour Wisdom Uni-Town teams up with Xi’an Jiaotong University and the city government to promote local AI development projects.

(Note: the above highlights are based on the International Data Corporation and Inspur report and Synced research)

Journalist: Tony Peng | Editor: Michael Sarazen

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