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USC-China pacts aim to reduce poverty, boost research

Agreements will look at how local governments, private companies and universities can bring about tech improvements

MOU Shenzen Danzhai USC
Professor Eric Heikkila speaks to an audience at the Danzhai Wanda Village memorandum of understanding ceremony. (Photo/Courtesy of Eric Heikkila)

The USC Price School of Public Policy has signed on to establish new research opportunities and international exchanges in Shenzhen, one of the leading cities in China for technological innovation.

USC Price Professor Eric Heikkila, director of the school’s Office of Global Engagement, facilitated agreements with the Shenzhen Lianshuo Education Investment Management Co.;  the Development Research Center of Shenzhen Municipality, which is responsible for policy advice and implementation in the city; and Danzhai Wanda Village.

“Shenzhen is a thriving area of technological innovation, and they go about it in slightly different ways than we do, so there’s opportunity for both sides to learn from each other,” Heikkila said. “In the case of Wanda Village, it’s an opportunity for us as a case study for poverty alleviation, but also to focus on how public-private partnerships have been effective in achieving these kinds of social goals.”

Shenzen USC MOU tour

Heikkila, a professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy, visits batik fabric vendors in Guizhou Province. (Photo/Courtesy of Eric Heikkila)

Each of the three agreements is valid for five years.

USC-China pacts: Three to work as one

The Shenzhen agreements will prompt a comparative study of how local governments (the Development Research Center), leading private sector companies (Lianshuo) and universities can collaborate to foster technological innovation in their areas.

The intent is to promote exchanges and visits, hold joint international forums and seminars, and cooperate to carry out research projects focusing on economic policy, technological innovation, public policy and urban planning.

Wu Sikang, director of the Development Research Center, will be among approximately 20 senior government officials from the Shenzhen Municipality coming to USC Price this fall to participate in a training program organized by the school’s International Public Policy and Management master’s program. The USC Center for Economic Development will help provide content for the training focused on the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership for Southern California.

Reducing poverty

Wanda Village is a targeted poverty alleviation program sponsored by the Dalian Wanda Group in Danzhai County, one of the most poverty-stricken provinces in China. With an investment of $237 million, the program includes a three-pronged approach: a relief fund for short-term poverty alleviation, a tourism resort village for the medium term and a vocational school for the long term.

“We are very glad to have this opportunity to work with a world-class research institution on poverty alleviation,” said Chen Wanyong, general manager of Wanda Village. “We look forward to working with the students and faculty members from USC.”


An extended version of this story appears on the USC Price School website.

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