The West Lake Institute for Advanced Study was launched yesterday in Yunqi Town southwest of Hangzhou.
"WIAS will focus on basic research, the real source of innovation. The opening of the institute is just the first step. We hope the West Lake University will be founded soon in the future," said Ma Huateng, one of the institute donors.
Ma is the billionaire founder and chairman of Tencent Group, which owns the vastly popular WeChat and QQ social networking apps.
Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin is also one of the six donors. His company is a property and entertainment conglomerate.
With four departments and 130 laboratories, WIAS will enroll 500 doctoral students this fall. It is the first and only private institution for doctoral studies in China. In the future, it will have 300 postdoctoral, 3,000 doctoral and graduate students and 2,000 undergraduates.
WIAS aims to recruit 15 world-class experts and hundreds of researchers to work in 50 laboratories next year. So far, it has hired three foreign experts in physics, material science, and biomedicine.
"Westlake Institute for Advanced Study carries the shared dreams of 3 million overseas students and 1.4 million returned professionals. We hope WIAS can create history by becoming the first private-funded, world-class scientific research institute in China," said Shi Yigong, the president of WIAS.
Shi is an accomplished professor of molecular biology at Princeton University. After returning to China, he gave up his US citizenship and became vice president of Tsinghua University.