The sense of being a pioneer pervaded the opening ceremony in this city in eastern China, one of the top locations for foreign enterprises considering a production location in the Greater Shanghai region.
Coveme of Bologna, Italy, with annual sales of around 190 million, is investing 30 million in its Chinese venture and will employ between 30 to 40 people as it ramps up production. Many more local staff are planned in the medium- to long-term: to prepare for future growth, the company has secured an area of 10,000 square meters in Zhangjiagang Industrial Park.
Amazingly, Coveme started building the Zhangjiagang facility this February. Less than ten months later, the factory buildings were complete and two production lines were in operation. Mass production will start at the beginning of next year, with a monthly capacity of about four million square meters of photovoltaic backsheets – the equivalent of five gigawatts (GW) in solar power. The Chinese plant will not only serve Chinese customers – many nearby in the Greater Shanghai region, China’s photovoltaic production hub – but also customers in other Asian countries.
Coveme is a company driven by determined entrepreneur, Pier Luigi Miciano, as well as a team of people sharing five key values highlighted by Miciano in his speech at the opening ceremony: innovation, partnership, reliability, sustainability and entrepreneurship. Sustainability was demonstrated at the new plant and office building by clearly marked recycling bins and Coveme’s commitment to fund the planting of 3,000 trees in China, as part of the country’s The Million Tree Project.
Partnership with Coveme’s Chinese partners was also demonstrated by the large audience of Chinese customers and other local supporters at yesterday’s ceremony. This included the Mayor of Zhanjiagang City, a leading official of the Zhangjiagang Industrial Park, where the Coveme subsidiary is based, and the head of China Plastic Laminated Film Association.
Last but not least, Italy’s Consul General in Shanghai, Vincenzo De Luca, was present at the opening ceremony, but could be seen taking calls during the evening as his government changed hands from the Berlusconi era to a new chapter in Italian politics. Perhaps it is a good thing that Coveme now also has a Chinese leg to stand on, given the uncertainty in Italy and Europe in general. The company is certainly a pioneer and if the speed of the plant’s construction is any guide, the future of its new Chinese venture looks very bright.