Liu Peichao is among millions who have witnessed the speed of Shenzhen's development and benefited from the metropolis' fast-growing, high-tech industry along the central coast of southern China's Guangdong Province.
Liu's tech company now accounts for over 60 percent of the global market for desktop robotic arms, a level of success which would have been unimaginable just five years ago when Liu founded Dobot in Shenzhen.
The city's high level of efficiency has urged him and his partners to tackle the technical difficulties that come with designing high-accuracy, user-friendly and marketable products for the light industry.
"Tech talent from across the country has been pouring into Shenzhen, which is seen as an entrepreneurial city," Liu said. "Its sophisticated supply chain, abundant human resources, and smooth capital flows make our dreams come true."
Growing from a small fishing village into China's high-tech powerhouse, Shenzhen has undergone an earth-shaking transformation over the past four decades.
According to the Shenzhen Association for Science and Technology, the city is now estimated to be home to nearly 2 million scientific and technical workers.
Since it was announced that Shenzhen would be built into a Special Economic Zone in 1980, engineers, scientists, researchers and ambitious entrepreneurs have been settling down in the city. Cutting-edge technologies have now taken root in the city, ranging from 5G to unmanned driving systems, and from artificial intelligence to augmented reality tech.
"Around 80 percent of our employees are research and development (R&D) personnel," said Liu Nianqiu, vice president of DeepRoute, an autonomous-driving startup founded in Shenzhen last year. Liu says the secret to a thriving company lies in its technical staff.
Despite the negative influence of the COVID-19 epidemic, Liu's company will continue to reinforce its R&D department this year to increase the use of self-driving technology in taxis.
Shenzhen's scientific and technological strength mostly relies on enterprises like Liu's. Over 90 percent of R&D institutions in the city are based in enterprises, and 90 percent of R&D funding comes from enterprises.
The latest data indicate that the high-tech industry in Shenzhen created an output value totaling 2.6 trillion yuan (382.7 billion U.S. dollars) in 2019 and that the number of national-level high-tech companies has hit 17,000.
In recent years, a growing number of overseas scientific and technical workers has been flowing into Shenzhen to benefit from the city's abundant job opportunities.
In 2014, it took Zhou Huihui less than two months to decide to return home from abroad and become a researcher at the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Zhou led a team over a five-year study on autism that was published in Nature in 2019, marking a major breakthrough for his team.
Many who arrive in Shenzhen are first impressed by its openness, as the city welcomes global researchers and provides a flexible environment and platform for them, said Zhou. "I received policy support as soon as I decided to return."
Shenzhen is also accelerating innovation in the development of its tech sector's system and mechanism. Laboratories are partnering with prestigious institutions and industry giants across the country, and favorable policies are being pushed forward to attract investors and startups.
Four decades of experience have shown that talent is of the utmost importance to Shenzhen, and the city should explore a more flexible innovation system for global talent to start businesses, said Tao Yitao, director of the China Center for Special Economic Zone Research under Shenzhen University.