Why join a delegation trip to China
A Journey to China
China is on the rise, and so is its thriving start-up scene. In Asia’s leading power hub innovation is booming, cooperation is growing, and the funding is exploding. There are no signs that this tide will be halted. Yet, German companies are sleeping. Have we not realized that we lost our position on the Autobahn’s fast lane? If we continue in this pace, we won’t be allowed on the Autobahn at all!
Jokes and vehicle metaphors aside (that’s a German trademark), fortunately, not all of us are sleeping. StartUp AsiaBerlin (SUAB), a German-Asian entrepreneurship platform connecting startup ecosystems, is working hard to remedy the drowsiness. Our most recent initiative was the organization of a delegation trip to China and Hong Kong.
What was the trip about?
About learning as much as possible. About connecting with like-minded people. And about experiencing a completely different ecosystem. The participants joined to learn about Smart City, Mobility and Urban Innovation solutions. And, oh boy, did they learn!
During the trip, innumerable insights about doing business in China, groundbreaking innovations and the possibilities of artificial intelligence were gained.
China isn’t just big; it’s massive. Yet, we sometimes forget how massive it is.
Its population is more than double that of the European Union, meaning that the local market is enormous and gives a decisive advantage for Chinese startups as they can experiment locally, before venturing out. Thus, German companies can learn from the experiences made by those companies. No matter the stage of progress of a company, exploring the potential of China’s market is a must.
Some of the participating companies are already doing this, reaching ahead of the curve, so to speak. Startup Energy Transition (SET), which is part of the German Energy Agency (DENA), launched projects in China such as the China Energy Efficiency project, which certifies Chinese buildings based on German standards. If there is one thing we, Germans, are fiercely proud of, it is our orderly standards. And we are not shy to share. After all, this creates recipes for true win-win situations.
Another company – Bonaverde – thinks that coffee is the solution, and we are inclined to agree. They are the world’s first roast-grind-brew coffee maker that directly links coffee farmers with coffee drinkers. They use an IoT platform to do so and they believe that China’s market is key to the disruption of global commodity trading. Both examples show that Germany is on the move, after all.
What did they do?
A lot! As part of the program, delegates met with accelerators, corporates, investors in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong to better understand China’s startup ecosystem and investment culture from multiple perspectives. The trip opened with a tour of Innoway, Beijing’s global incubator and accelerator village which has successfully incubated 2,900 startups and raised a total of RMB9.1 million. Next up were tours of other incubators and accelerators including Troublemaker and the CRI Innovation Center in Shenzhen, Brinc as well as the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park.
The delegation also visited China’s biggest startups. Among these were Sensetime – the guru of facial recognition, and Terminus, a Beijing-based IoT unicorn. Both companies are at the forefront of innovation; working closely with the municipal government to transform governance and data management through smart city initiatives on platforms such as traffic control, public security, utilities, and crowd management.
In Shenzhen and Hong Kong, the delegates connected with even bigger fish including Huawei, BYD, and Siemens. Learning about their work on smart city and sustainable mobile solutions was eye-opening.
Partnerships with Germany
The good news is, cross-country ties between Germany and China have already been fostered in the education sector. Participant Jonas Fahlbusch, a Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at TU Berlin, has been a strong proponent of Berlin-based startups in their relations with China for years. The great news is, the bilateral relations between Germany and China are growing, and building a bridge between both countries is the main intention of TUWITECH, a German-Chinese platform for startup ecosystem development.
The even better news is, that Berlin will have a Business Liason Desk in Beijing representing the city locally and being the focal point for all Berlin companies looking to establish presence in China. The best way to get in touch is on WeChat or ping Sabine Yang-Schmidt on LinkedIn.
Panel discussions and pitch sessions hosted by the German Chamber of Commerce (AHK) and Berlin office in Beijing, Startup Grind at Hexcubes in Shenzhen, and WHub in Hong Kong, were attended by over 300 people. Delegates also got to meet prominent figures in the tech and startup industry, including Bay McLaughlin, co-founder of Brinc, a world-leading acceleration program in hardware and AI.
So, what now?
SUAB’s first trip to China was a resounding success. Each delegate gained valuable insights that cannot be learned in textbooks or out of an office cubicle. By acquiring an average of 40 connections and three leads, the trip was also a clever business decision. Multigence – a tech-based recruitment instrument platform – received an impressive 28 leads from the networking sessions alone! Somebody sure knows how to network. Of course, this is also a testament to SUAB’s focus on providing useful and relevant outcomes for both the delegates and Chinese partners.
Even though the first delegation trip to China managed to hit home base, SUAB has no intention of stopping this game. There is still much to be learned, and many chances for doing so are looming on the horizon.
Next up is Asia-Pacific Week 2019 in Berlin, an entire week of events and activities focusing on innovation around startups and their ecosystems. SUAB will put a spotlight on this global megatrend, eagerly discussing joint projects and partnerships with entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem builders. You can find out more here: https://apwberlin.de/
SUAB will also host three more trips to diverse startup ecosystems this year, namely:
- Singapore and Jakarta: 29 July – 2 August 2019
- New Delhi and Bangalore (India): 16 – 21 September 2019
- Beijing and Shanghai (China): 25 – 29 November 2019
Looking forward to seeing you on the next trip!