A Silicon Valley Campus with Chinese Characteristics
Like most of China’s high-tech manufacturers, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. is located in an outsized and relatively isolated technology park.
But unlike the bulk of China’s electronics manufacturers, which set up cramped dormitories and massive dining facilities to manage legions of workers who come to do basic assembly, SMIC’s campus is actually pleasant.
Located within walking distance of its production facilities, apartment buildings in SMIC’s residential zone are brightly painted and framed by well-manicured trees. A short stroll across a canal leads to an area populated by villas that seem more suited to an American Sun Belt suburb than a technology park in Shanghai’s Pudong district.
Nearby is even a church, set up by SMIC’s Christian founder Richard Chang, where many employees worship on Sundays.
While you won’t find refrigerators full of free organic juice or break rooms lined with pool tables at SMIC, the company’s Pudong compound has the sort of family-friendly vibe that is key to pulling in top-level talent in Asia. And so far, the strategy has paid off: According to a 2012 study by Harvard Business School, the amenities the company offers helped it attract roughly 1,000 foreign workers within its first few years, including 500 Taiwanese and 300 Americans.
While some of China’s most advanced technology and Internet companies, including search engine Baidu and telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei, have built attractive campuses to lure in talent, none have gone quite as far as Mr. Chang in providing a total environment for employees.
“Our school is getting very popular in Shanghai. We’re always getting calls from our customers (about) whether we can put their kids in our school,” SMIC Chief Financial Officer Gareth Kung said in an interview, adding, “frankly some people join SMIC just because of the school.”
And for the company’s employees from Taiwan, which has become one of the world’s most important sources of chip producers, four Taiwan restaurants stand just a block down from the school.
As China’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturer, SMIC has been lifted by the trend. Relatively unknown chip design companies like Spreadtrum Communications Inc. that rely on SMIC to create their chips helped SMIC’s revenue from Chinese customers grow 34.1% in 2012 from the year before. SMIC expects the chip design industry in China to grow around 19% through 2016, compared with total industry growth of 8%. In 2012 revenue from China stood at $578 million versus $187 million in 2009.
All of this is good news for government’s dreams of a semiconductor industry more heavily anchored in China that could eventually grow abroad. But prognostications about the next boom in China’s semiconductor sector have proven wrong in the past, China’s chip sector remains focused around communications chips instead of processors and other chips, and the global market remains dominated by a whole host of large and well-financed companies with a history of high-level innovation. Nonetheless SMIC’s campus offers a glimpse of what work in China could look like if the country succeeds in building out the leading edge of its electronics industry.
– Paul Mozur. Follow him on Twitter @paulmozur
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東北角觀光特區 3年後活起來 2010/02/28 03:03 記者許玉君／台北報導
行 政院院長吳敦義上任後打「庶民經濟」，去年底提出活化東北角風景區土地利用、改善環境景觀的想法，3個月後交通部火速提出「改善庶民生活行動方案─促進東 北角海岸地區土地利用暨景觀風貌改善興辦事業計畫」，將著手改造東北角風景區，成為國內新觀光特區，最快民國102年底可對外營運。