MIT to host first forum on business in China

Updated: 2011-10-21 11:07

By Zhao Yanrong (China Daily)

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BOSTON - A Chinese student organization recently announced it will launch the first forum to focus on entrepreneurship in China at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology next month.

The forum aims to provide a platform for Chinese students in the United States and venture capitalists from China to hash out business ideas.

The MIT-China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum, or MIT-CHIEF, will be an annually held conference hosted by the MIT Chinese Student and Scholar Association.

The forum will invite entrepreneurs from both China and the US to speak about hot-button business topics in China. This year, the key issues are healthcare, information technology, clean energy, innovation, entrepreneurship and venture investment.

"We hope to build a platform for intellectual exchange and deeper and broader collaboration between China and the US in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship," said Li Rui, co-chair of MIT-CHIEF and a third-year doctoral candidate in electrical engineering and computer science at the university.

On Nov 19-20, four entrepreneurs will make keynote speeches at the conference: Zhang Yaqin, corporate vice-president of Microsoft Corp; Thomas Li, vice-president of IBM; Sonny Wu, co-founder and managing director of GSR Ventures, a venture capital fund which invests in technology companies with operations in China; and Wang Shi, chairman of China Vanke Co Ltd.

One interesting aspect of the forum is a contest called "Pitch to China", which allows teams of students to sell a business idea.

The first 20 teams were selected in September and six teams will enter the championship round for $18,000 in cash prizes.

"The contest strives to foster connections of new technologies and business models with investment funding and execution experience from China and outside," said Zhao Xin, the contest director and a doctoral candidate in materials science and engineering at the university.

"We are dedicated to facilitating overseas entrepreneurs with resources within China and helping them both enter the Chinese market as well as bring about positive change for both China and the world as a whole," Zhao said.

Similar entrepreneurship events haven been held at MIT, such as the $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, but participation from Chinese students was low, said Cui Yuanyuan, marketing and sponsorship director of MIT-CHIEF.

Cui has a friend working for the $100K competition organizing committee and told her that it is difficult to receive business plans submitted by the Chinese community.

"We are now encouraging Chinese students and Chinese enterprisers to stand out and say what they want. We hope this could be a good opportunity for all Chinese," said Cui, a doctoral candidate in computational and systems biology.

As the first Chinese-oriented entrepreneurship event at MIT, MIT-CHIEF attracted attention outside the Chinese community.

"MIT's engagement with China on the one hand, and with innovation and entrepreneurship on the other, is deep, longstanding and growing," said David Schmittlein, dean of the Sloan School of Management at MIT. "Opportunities coming from MIT to enhance the dialogue around innovation in China, and to build the community that is supporting that innovation, is important and I look to this new forum to play a significant and positive role in these efforts."

China Daily

MIT to host first forum on business in China