Innovation, entrepreneurship in hyperdrive
Updated: 2015-06-06 07:10
BEIJING -- Head to any Chinese party and the topics of conversation will likely center around the nation's sky-high home prices and the quest to find love.
But as China stretches its legs to find footing in a changing economic environment, a new topic has been making its rounds in casual small-talk - how to raise funds and pursue a new business idea.
From university campuses to restaurants and cafes, successful start-up stories are spreading fast, inspiring more adventurers to take a chance.
In the southern city of Guangzhou, one start-up team is seeking to ride the country's Internet drive and booming stock market. Using "big data" analysis, the young group has designed the mobile application YiXuanGu to offer stock advice to retail investors.
So far, the application has garnered nearly 100,000 users.
"The mobile Internet age have created massive opportunities for the likes of us," said Xian Jian, chief technology officer of the application and a former employee at Internet giant Baidu.
The ambition to strike gold is shared by many others, with hundreds of new mobile applications being developed to help in taxi-hailing, healthcare and finance in the hopes of catching the eye of venture capitals.
New technologies like "big data" or "cloud computing" provide a lot of new business opportunities as they offer easier access for young entrepreneurs.
The start-up boom is also driven by the official trumpeting of innovation and entrepreneurship at a time when the broader economy is slowing.
To boost employment and sustain growth, which slowed to a six-year low of 7 percent in the first quarter, the Chinese government is paying close attention to innovation and entrepreneurship. A wide range of measures have been unveiled, including financial support, facility construction and administrative assistance, for start-ups.
On Thursday, the State Council, China's cabinet, pledged to continue streamlining administrative procedures and improving government services to support mass entrepreneurship and innovation.
"More effort will be given to intellectual property protection and injecting new growth momentum into entrepreneurship and innovation through the creation of sharing platforms and government procurement," according to the statement released after an executive meeting on Thursday presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.
Since taking office, Li has repeatedly stated the need to cut red tape for small and medium-sized businesses and tap into the power of China's booming e-commerce, a market reached 13 trillion yuan (about 2.1 trillion U.S. dollars) last year and is expected to maintain fast expansion.
All levels of Chinese governments are moving to bolster the start-up frenzy. Provincial and municipal governments in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangxi and Heilongjiang have invested money, announced tax incentives and provided facilities to help college students start a business.
Local governments are also encouraged to establish entrepreneur funds, issue preferential policies and give tax support to investors that fund small and micro-firms, business incubators and innovation activities, according to Thursday's State Council meeting.
The endeavor seems to be garnering success. According to government data, nearly 3.7 million new companies were registered in 2014, 46 percent more than the year before.
Statistics from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security showed the Internet industry has greatly contributed to the 13.2 million new jobs last year. Consultancy McKinsey estimated the sector would provide 46 million new jobs by 2025.
But the seemingly rosy picture failed to recognize the risks as most of the start-ups would go under.
"Starting a business is not easy, as resource integration, fund raising and market promotion are all huge challenges for us," noted Xian Jian.