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China Trade Mission yields Smart returns

China Trade Mission yields Smart returns

The Smart Cities-Smart Growth U.S. Presidential Trade Mission to China this month was led by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. It included 24 U.S. firms that "not only represent the gold standard in clean technology, but also exemplify the American spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship," she said. Our friend Paul Doherty was part of this group. This is his report.

by PAUL DOHERTY, CEO, The Digit Group, in Shanghai | April 29, 2015

Based on our participation in this month's historic Smart Cities-Smart Growth U.S. Presidential Trade Mission to China, The Digit Group Inc., Memphis TN, this week launched a series of global Smart Cities projects and initiatives in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong, China. They join other significant contracts recently secured for similar work in Shenzhen and Malaysia.

Through the support and guidance we received from the U.S. Commercial Service and the U.S. Embassy in China, we were introduced to the proper officials who allowed us to pitch our vision for Smart Cities and to showcase our services. The award of these contracts is the ultimate success measure of that support.

Held April 13-17, the Obama Administration's first "Presidential-designated" trade mission was headed by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall and U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus. They led a delegation of two dozen U.S. firms, seeking to facilitate a diplomatic dialogue with the government and business leadership of China in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The aim specifically was to promote the innovations available from American companies for Smart Cities and Smart Growth and to connect them with opportunities in China's green infrastructure and energy efficiency industries.

Making history: From left, in foreground, the China Trade Mission was led by Deputy Energy Sec. Sherwood-Randall, Commerce Sec. Pritzker, U.S. Ambassador Baucus, and his spouse, Melody Hanes. The author is near the back of the group, at the top of the stairs, on the right.  (Photo: U.S. Commerce Dept.)

Making history: From left, in foreground, the China Trade Mission was led by Deputy Energy Sec. Sherwood-Randall, Commerce Sec. Pritzker, U.S. Ambassador Baucus, and his spouse, Melody Hanes. The author is near the back of the group, at the top of the stairs, on the right.  (Photo: U.S. Commerce Dept.)

"This trade mission is a clear sign of America’s commitment to U.S.-China energy cooperation and our broader relationship," said Secretary Pritzker. "It will also help further U.S.-China’s clean energy collaboration and introduce Chinese investors, entrepreneurs, and innovators to the U.S.'s clean energy technology market."

Specifically, The Digit Group's new work is ambitious and groundbreaking, I feel, because it asks us to tackle the global issues of urban planning, Smart Buildings, sustainability, energy, water, carbon footprint, transportation, education, healthcare, safety, security and a better urban user experience, all through the use of technology innovation and physical urban place-making. To support our Guangzhou Smart Cities project, we have opened a new office in Guangzhou, which we expect will grow from its current 6 employees to over 50 in the next few months.

Our related offerings now include private placement project financing, Master Design/Master Architect services, Master Builder services, and Smart Cities Management, using best-of-class Smart Cities technology solutions. By having full control over the design and construct processes, we use digital fabrication and modular construction that allows for zero-defect structures built in a factory in Beijing, separated for shipping, and then reassembled at job sites anywhere in the world.

“The Digit Group’s Smart Cities design/build process is historic in nature," said Steve Jones, Dodge Data & Analytics' senior director of industry insights and research, and a fellow member of the delegation. "It marks the beginning era of the industrialization of the construction industry.” 

rallying resources to global causes

In her closing remarks in Guangzhou, Secretary Pritzker added: “The United States and China can work together to reinforce and strengthen a global economic architecture that does more than serve our respective self-interests. But we must support high standards, good governance, and genuine multi-lateralism. American companies, like the ones on this trip, can supplement your capabilities – especially when it comes to igniting smart growth and building smart cities."

The Secretary was kind enough to give us a shout-out, as well.

"One example of where our trade mission has already yielded results is The Digit Group, a technology company that builds and designs smart cities," she told the crowd at our farewell gathering. "In preparation for this trade mission, Digit decided to open a new office in Guangzhou, where the firm will be better able to partner with Chinese investors to construct a smart city in Malaysia, and seek additional opportunities in China and across this region. The Digit Group is only one of many companies on this trip and across the United States that offer solutions to help China address its environmental challenges.”

Digital welcome: The author and SVP Michael Shaw (far left) meet with new 'Digit Groupies' in Guangzhou.

Digital welcome: The author and SVP Michael Shaw (far left) meet with new 'Digit Groupies' in Guangzhou.

For their part, our hosts expressed similar enthusiasm and optimism. "The 'New Normal' in China brings a new approach to many things," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told our group. "Cooperation with American companies to assist us with Smart Cities and Smart Growth is meant to create relationships that do not just have implementations in each other’s countries... By leveraging each of our strengths, the US and China could develop powerful solutions together that third party nations could use. Using the best of each of our countries' resources and talents, we can achieve a healthier and more sustainable world together.”

Yes, a new era of industrialization in the global construction industry is under way now in the form of Smart Cities, ushered in by the two most powerful countries on Earth... China and the United States of America.

For Secretary Pritzker's full speech, click here.

For the full roster of all 24 U.S. companies on the Trade Mission, click here.

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The Digit Group is a technology company that finances, designs, builds and manages Smart Cities worldwide. Headquartered in Memphis TN, it has emerged as the world leader in the strategy and implementation of Smart Cities worldwide. Already, its unique combination of pragmatic strategies and solutions that generate continuous, creative innovations has led to successful projects in Saudi Arabia, China and the U.S. It is currently developing holistic and sustainable greenfield Smart Cities in Southeast Asia, China, India, UAE and Europe. The Digit Group now has offices in Delhi, Dubai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, London, Memphis, New York, San Francisco and Shanghai.

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