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South China's Guangdong province saw robust growth of high-tech firms last year with heavy investment during a national innovation drive.
The number of high-tech companies in Guangdong's Pearl River Delta region, a manufacturing center, reached 18,880 in 2016, up 78.8 percent over 2015, according to data released at a provincial innovative development conference held Tuesday.
Government investment in science and technology in the delta region soared 88 percent.
The number of high-tech firms neared 20,000 in Guangdong last year, ranking the first nationwide, said the provincial government. It aims for an increase of about 3,000 high-tech firms this year.
Boosted by the innovation-driven model, the number of invention patent applications in Guangdong also increased by 50 percent last year.