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As part of the international mission of the Switzerland Innovation foundation, PARK INNOVAARE participated in a trip to China to meet local representatives from Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE)*. The three-day trip took Raymond Cron, Managing Director of the foundation, and myself (Nils Gebhardt, Managing Director of PARK INNOVAARE) to Beijing and Shanghai.
Our visit started in Beijing, where – apart from official meetings at the embassy – we met with Chinese organizations, such as RongTong Science & Technology Industry Group, to discuss potential collaboration. RongTong builds and runs two innovations parks with more than 1000 companies in China. As a direct outcome of the meeting, a group delegation will be visiting PARK INNOVAARE as well as the Basel and Biel sites in May. We will keep you in the loop.
In Shanghai, we had the opportunity to meet with the local team of dedicated experts from the Swiss Business Hub China and to present the overall portfolio of Switzerland Innovation as well as specific topics of PARK INNOVAARE. More importantly, there were engaging and valuable discussions about an effective go-to-market approach – not trivial at all. I was pleased to notice a rising interest on the part of the Chinese in Switzerland and its innovation environment. However, Switzerland is not alone and – despite the outstanding quality of Swiss research institutes – it is still in strong competition with other countries (the US, Germany or the UK) that are also in search of partners and are often more aggressive and more successful.
Training session at the Swiss Business Hub China in Shanghai with the kind support of the Consul General of Switzerland Mr. Alexander Hoffet (5th from the right).
Chinese companies are facing intensive national competition; collaborations with technology partners from abroad may help them rise to this challenge. The availability of attractive mergers and acquisitions (M&A) targets was often a point on the agenda. But China is also actively seeking to enhance its own innovation profile by running a relocation initiative aiming not only to bring Chinese expats back to the country, but also to attract foreign entrepreneurial talent and scientists by offering better conditions, such as a fast track to a work permit.
Among others, in Shanghai we met with Shanghai Industrial μTechnology Research Institute (SITRI), an international innovation center focusing on innovation and the commercialization of technologies to power the Internet of Things (IoT). Another particularly interesting discussion was with representatives from X-NODE, an innovation organization with four sites in Shanghai that provides companies from China and abroad access to the Chinese start-up environment and, as such, has developing partnerships with quite a number of start-up organizations throughout Europe.
All in all, PARK INNNOVAARE as an innovation center has successfully raised a great deal of interest among our Chinese peers and can count on many cooperations in the future. This trip has thus opened the first door to China’s economy and R&D. We are eager to explore more in-depth the Asian market and are confident that collaboration would be beneficial for both parties. After all, the hottest topics in China right now, such as Big Data, augmented and virtual reality, as well as healthcare-related topics (biotechnology, drug discovery and cancer treatment) and technologies for the future of mobility and energy, are covered in PARK INNOVAARE’s innovation portfolio.
*Apart from export promotion, S-GE’s mission was to promote Switzerland as a business location abroad. As such it supports PARK INNOVAARE and the other sites of the national innovation park in building an international network. It helps liaise with companies willing to collaborate with Switzerland Innovation in realization of their R&D projects and supports Swiss research institutes, including the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI).