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Zhongguancun tech rolled out to combat disease nationwide

Liang Kaiyan
Updated: Mar 12,2020 09:39    China Daily

A host of technologies and products from companies in Beijing's Zhongguancun Science Park, known as China's Silicon Valley, are being used in the fight against the novel coronavirus, according to a list recently released by the park.

The list includes 137 technological products from 86 companies. These technologies relate to epidemic prevention and control in 12 fields, such as temperature monitoring, artificial intelligence-assisted diagnosis and treatment as well as big data information research and development services.

The listed products and services all have proprietary intellectual property rights and most of them are available immediately for combating the epidemic, the park said.

Fifteen technological products from tech giant Baidu are on the list, covering sectors including AI and big data.

Among them is an intelligent robocall platform, requesting people voluntarily provide their recent travel history, close contacts and current health conditions.

The platform aims to assist community workers in increasing efficiency in epidemic control, said Wang Haifeng, chief technology officer of Baidu.

Baidu has offered the platform to the public for free and has put it into operation in places including Beijing's Haidian district, Shanghai's Baoshan district and the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, completing more than 3 million calls.

Baidu Research has opened its AI-powered algorithm Linear Fold for free to gene-testing agencies, epidemic control centers and research institutions around the world.

The algorithm can help shorten the time required to analyze the secondary RNA structure of the virus from 55 minutes to 27 seconds, Wang said.

"We opened the algorithm for free to help researchers and experts, promote vaccine R&D, and thus to make contributions to the epidemic control," Wang said.

"Utilizing frontier technologies including AI, big data and cloud computing in fighting the epidemic is also a process to explore their applications in public health security," he said.

"Facing the novel coronavirus outbreak, as a high-tech company, we feel obligated to opening our advanced technologies to assist in combating the epidemic."

Another listed item is an intelligent diagnosis system developed by BestNovo (Beijing) Medical Technology.

Based on AI and medical technologies, the system is designed to provide patients with health guidance and medical advice, and assist doctors in identifying patients' conditions to optimize diagnosis, according to the company.

The system has gathered medical forces including doctors and experts, said Liu Zhe, general manager of BestNovo.

The company has received thousands of inquires about infection risk of the novel coronavirus, Liu said.

Engaged in medical laboratory science and diagnostic product R&D and production, the company said it has also developed a nucleic acid testing reagent, which has been put into use in front-line hospitals.

"In the spread of the epidemic around the world, positive scientific research results should be put into production as quickly as possible to save more lives," Liu said.

Thanks to the country's supportive policies, it took less than a month for BestNovo to develop the reagent and put it into production, he said.
So far, the company has donated 50,000 nucleic acid testing and antibody detection reagents to front-line hospitals in provinces including Hubei, Shandong and Jiangsu.

It has also given nearly 10,000 nucleic acid testing reagents to more than 20 countries including Japan, South Korea and the European Union.

Zhang Wei, head of the publicity and education department at the Beijing Intellectual Property Office, said, "We encourage more companies in Beijing to apply technologies such as AI and big data to helping combat the epidemic."

The office has rolled out supportive measures including financial assistance and giving priority to the preliminary review of patent applications and trademark registrations concerning epidemic prevention, Zhang said.

"The value of companies' technologies are assessed by the market, while we are committed to protecting their IP in their market operation," he added.