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Innovation-Driven Green Economic Diversification for Resource-Exhausted Cities in Heilongjiang

From 2021 to 2023, TIV consultants participated in a landmark study for the Asian Development Bank (ADB) towards revitalizing “resource-exhausted cities” in the Heilongjiang Province of China. A “resource-exhausted” city is defined as declining resource-dependent development and accumulative recovered reserves exceeding 70% of recoverable reserves. In the case of China’s Heilongjiang Province, the region has been labeled “resource-exhausted” due to the depletion of key natural resources (i.e., coal and forestry), which historically have served as fundamental economic and developmental drivers. However, as inherently finite resources of China’s northernmost province have dwindled over the years, the need to transition to a more sustainable economy has become ever more apparent. Accordingly, how Heilongjiang could transition to a “knowledge economy” was a key theme for this endeavor.

Accordingly, TIV consultants conducted desk research on the factors contributing to “resource exhaustion” and performed comparative analysis against other cities with similar economic conditions. The investigation also extended to identify cities that performed successfully in the wake of previously resource-intensive economic activities and how such cities were able to transform their economic and developmental identity. In this regard, TIV developed a novel indicator for evaluating the factors contributing to revitalizing resource-exhausted cities from the context of innovation. Through the review of high-impact innovation indices and the identification of the “ingredients” of a city’s or region's innovativeness (e.g., the presence of strong academic centers; a culture of entrepreneurship, with venture capital support), TIV consultants proposed a roadmap by which the Heilongjiang Province could recover and prosper in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – one characterized by the technologies of AI, robotics, 3D printing, and more.

The report is scheduled to be released in late 2023 and is anticipated to have a wide-reaching impact on other cities and regions seeking to transform their economies.

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