Park is a sight for sore eyes
Wuhan's Optical Valley Software Park is an extension of the Silicon Valley model in the United States that has been the engine of innovation in the information technology industry for the past 20 years. The mainland has several such parks and Wuhan's is not the first, but the city's centralised location and deep commitment - financially and regulatory - to the success of the park has made Wuhan's Optical Valley one of the premier locations for the next mainland IT advancements. The software park is located in the city's East Lake Hi-Tech Zone and has the financial support of the five largest banks, local and central government, allowing for excellent facilities and laboratories.
It is the largest photoelectric and software park on the mainland, attracting interest from Fortune 500 firms from around the world. The park covers more than 400,000 square metres and includes a shopping mall, cafes and restaurants and housing for more than 15,000 employees.
The park was first envisioned in 2000, but didn't come to full realisation until 2006, when local authorities teamed up with the Dalian Software Park to establish Wuhan's own optical valley. Since then the park has attracted billions of yuan in start-up and credit funds, leading to an influx of domestic and foreign companies, including Huawei Technologies and France Telecom. The hi-tech zone will focus on the next generation of technological advancements, based on the photoelectric effect: the charging of electrons after exposure to light. Although photoelectrics is not new - the first recorded observations were in the late 1880s - the full potential of this new form of energy have yet to be fully realised. Possible practical applications are for ultrasensitive sensors and measurement tools.
The Optical Valley Software Park aims to bring together IT industry players for research and development hoping to take advantage of unrealised potential to create business opportunities.