Sustainable urban development is a tremendous challenge, but with ever growing cities also come ever growing opportunities for ideas and businesses alike. German materials manufacturer Covestro and its long-term academic partner Tongji University are at the forefront of future city strategy development. On November 9th in Shanghai, one of the most bustling urban areas in the world, both partners gathered bright minds from academia, regulatory authorities, and leading industry players to exchange ideas and discuss approaches.
Dr. Michael Schmidt, Head of Innovation Management APAC at Covestro, said at the forum. “Urbanization is a huge challenge but also offers huge opportunities. If policy makers, materials manufacturers, academia and all the different partners tackle this together, we can contribute to sustainable urban development while generating business growth. I’m happy to exchange views and grateful for the high level participation.”
The forum was organized by the “Covestro-Tongji Innovation Academy”, a fruitful cooperation of the two partners since its formation 2011. Their scope covers the commercialization of innovation outcomes in the areas of construction and transportation as well as providing education and talent development programs.
High level participation, highly advanced thinking
The event included ten keynote talks. As well as those from Covestro and Tongji, there were presentations from Wei Xu, dean of the Institute of Building Environment and Energy, China Academy of Building Research (CABR), Yuqing Bao, executive deputy director of Beijing Research and Development Center of Building Energy Efficiency. There were also representatives from property developer Vanke, bikesharing company Mobike and Hikvision, a video surveillance equipment maker.
One of the keynote speakers was Zhiqiang Wu, an academian from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who shared some insights on how to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) in future sustainable urban development.
“Urban designers will rely heavily on AI in the future,” said Zhiqiang Wu,who is also Vice President of Tongji University. “The city of the future can perceive, react, reflect and learn. New city simulation systems can help in developing and analyzing population distribution, urban land use, natural resource distribution simulations and more. These measures will play a role in the future. Let’s anticipate and aim for this common goal to make urban areas more sustainable.”
Continuing urbanization poses an ever greater challenge to urban development. According to the UN, 55% of the world’s population currently resides in urban areas. By 2050, this number will rise to 68%. That’s why they put sustainable cities on top of their agenda as one of their “Sustainable Development Goals” which work as a global guideline for sustainability.
With its materials and solutions, Covestro is relevant for central sectors of this development – from insulation for buildings to light and stable materials for transportation or efficient coatings for infrastructure. With its knowledge and contacts, the company and its partners help to establish the networks needed for bringing sustainable urban development to the next level. The “Sustainable City Forum” was another step in that direction.
With 2017 sales of EUR 14.1 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, and electrical and electronics industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,200 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) at the end of 2017.