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China’s international incubators

Improving practice and support through global collaboration

Chinese incubators are actively looking for international partnerships, as a means of improving practice around how early stage companies are supported.

Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s promotion of entrepreneurship through the 2015 Government Work Report, issued by the State Council, encouraged the establishment of thousands of incubators across China.

Following this, detailed Guideline Recommendations for the Development of Incubators were launched by the State Council. These highlighted that innovation, entrepreneurship and incubation services can be new engines driving forward China’s innovation economy.

However, according to the Investigation of Incubators in the Yangtze River Delta Region report, published by Tongji University in July 2015, the sustainable development of many incubators is held back by ineffective training provision for start-up companies and a lack of investment into them. In response to this lack of developed mentoring and financing initiatives for entrepreneurs within incubator infrastructure, in September 2015 the Ministry of Science and Technology released guideline recommendations. These guidelines encourage incubators to establish platforms for international collaboration, and to promote communication and cooperation with talent, technology, innovative projects and investment from overseas.

Large scale Chinese organisations active in this area followed suit by developing their own international strategies. Major Chinese property developer Vanke signed an agreement with Provenience, a US investment company, in December 2015. Establishing the Sino-American Venture Investment Centre, together they facilitated project-based cooperation, sharing of technology and supporting talent exchange.

This was followed in March 2016 by Vanke launching its first incubator overseas in California. The incubator focuses on intelligent manufacturing, artificial intelligence, culture and creativity, Virtual Reality and biotechnology. The California incubator is linked up to nearly 100 Vanke innovation bases in China, which aim to attract promising projects to China, as well as nurture China-USA cooperative activity.

Vanke’s interests are not limited to the USA. Other international incubators it has worked with include the Israel International Incubator and Milan Fashion Science and Technology Innovation.

Innospace, a Shanghai based incubator supported via investment from Rui’an Property and the Yangpu District government is another example of a Chinese incubator actively engaged with its international counterparts. Innospace introduced the Silicon Valley Acceleration Model into its working process and launched a series of entrepreneurship training camps. These included international mentoring, training and competition programmes to nurture start-up companies. Innospace has worked with partners including InnoSpring (USA), HKCyberport, TEP (Japen), KISED, Life.Sreda and TUM (Germany).

- The BOP China team

Further reading (in Mandarin)