Reporter Journal / Chang Jun

Innovation contest pushes forward US-China cooperation

By Chang Jun (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-01-19 11:18

Among the many ways to characterize the startup contest that was wrapped up on Jan 16 in Santa Clara, Luo Linquan, China's top diplomat in San Francisco, repeatedly emphasized one thing: This exchange in technology and innovation was a two-way communication that creates win-win cooperation between the worlds' two largest economies.

An annual event for entrepreneurs from the Asian-American community throughout the US, the North America Chinese Startup Contest and Accelerator Program entered its sixth year and drew 3,000 attendees to the finals at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Throughout the day, 20 teams presented a wide range of projects, from clouding and mobile Internet to Big Data and smart living, competing for the attention of industry and academia and the 200 investors present.

A host of decision-makers from high-tech and innovation parks in the Yangtze River Delta, Beijing and East China decided whether they would buy into the ideas and help monetize products and apps.

China has recently been adopting an innovation-driven development route as the central government has on several occasions called on the country to follow a strategy of innovation as the impetus for development.

In an effort to bolster China's economy, the country offers preferential policies to recruit the best and the brightest to return to China and join the nation's realization of the Chinese Dream and national rejuvenation.

"We welcome overseas-educated talent, whether at home or abroad, to contribute to China's development," said Luo, citing Chinese President Xi Jinping's 2013 speech at the 100th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Western Returned Scholars Association in Beijing. "The government supports students and scholars studying abroad, encourages them to return to China, guarantees them the freedom of coming and going and supports them in using their talents."

A key goal is to "push forward the fusion of science and the economy, so that scientific and technological strength can be transformed into industrial and economic power," said Xi.

China's recruiting overseas talent should not be viewed as a so-called "brain drain" by the US, Luo said, adding that China and the US are so interdependent in so many ways that exchanges in technology and innovation are bilateral and mutually beneficial.

"Remember, FDI (foreign direct investment) from China into America since 2014 has surpassed US FDI to China, and the situation remains the same this year," said Luo.

Chinese investment in the US could grow to $200 billion by 2020, creating as many as 400,000 jobs, a Rhodium Group study estimates.

Entrepreneurship wise, Chinese institutional investors are revising the industry rule by injecting funding into foreign companies, including those in the US in recent years.

Innovation contest pushes forward US-China cooperation

Two decades ago, Chinese startups had to seek investment from abroad to sustain growth and expansion. Now, the landscape is changing.

In April, 2014, China's e-commerce giant Alibaba invested $250 million into Lyft, one of the big ride-sharing players in the US. In September 2015, the similarly app-based, on-demand transportation service Uber confirmed it had raised $1.2 billion from China's search giant Baidu.

"This trend-shifting was unimaginable 20 years ago," said China Equity Group chairman Wang Chaoyong, who is well-known for his ability to spot promising unicorn companies such as Sohu (internet service), Baidu (search engine) and Huayi Brothers (movie production and entertainment) in their early stages.

The past six years have witnessed the flourishing of entrepreneurship in the Asian-American community, said Wu Ping, president of the US-China Association of High-level Professionals, organizer of the contest. "We also saw an enhanced connection between American projects and industries in China."

Wu said this year more than 500 teams joined the competition. "The number was 158 when we held our first contest," he said, adding that about 30 industrial and high-tech parks sponsored the startup contest this year.

Contact the writer at


Most Popular
Hot Topics
The Week in Photos