China the per­fect home for star­tups

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS -

Ce­cily Liu

The firm is reg­is­ter­ing the pa­tent for the tech­nol­ogy in China and is speak­ing to dif­fer­ent Chi­nese in­vestors in the hope that they can in­vest more cap­i­tal in the busi­ness, said its chief ex­ec­u­tive, Paul Sheedy.

“We will tar­get our tech­nol­ogy at Chi­nese lo­cal su­per­mar­kets, which are strug­gling to keep up with com­pe­ti­tion com­ing from Western su­per­mar­kets en­ter­ing China, like Car­refour, Tesco, Marks & Spencer. This could be a real game changer for Chi­nese su­per­mar­ket chains.”

The tech­nol­ogy is much harder to mar­ket to Western su­per­mar­kets that are the in­cum­bents in this mar­ket and are al­ready used to the idea of pa­per vouch­ers.

“For years they have worked with ex­ter­nal data anal­y­sis com­pa­nies that have a vested in­ter­est in en­sur­ing their po­si­tions are not chal­lenged by com­pa­nies like Re­ward Tech­nol­ogy.”

Tesco has worked with the data anal­y­sis firm Dunnhumby for 20 years, and Sains­bury with Aimia for 12 years, so th­ese large su­per­mar­kets are un­likely to change who they work with.

“Chi­nese su­per­mar­kets are more flex­i­ble in their choice of part­ners and are more adapt­able to new tech­nol­ogy,” Sheedy said.

The Chi­nese govern­ment, rec­og­niz­ing the ben­e­fit of help­ing Western star­tups set up op­er­a­tions in China, last year helped set up the In­ter­na­tional Univer­si­ties In­no­va­tion Al­liance, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion in Bei­jing that helps in­ter­na­tional star­tups in China, and uses its over­seas sub­sidiaries to help Chi­nese star­tups go global.

The al­liance works with univer­si­ties, think tanks and in­cu­ba­tors to host com­pe­ti­tions through which it iden­ti­fies promis­ing star­tups. The al­liance’s Lon­don sub­sidiary, IUIA Ven­tures UK, was set up in Oc­to­ber dur­ing a visit by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping to Bri­tain. IUIA is set­ting up sub­sidiaries in the US and Sin­ga­pore.

It is in part­ner­ship with be­tween 70 and 80 univer­si­ties glob­ally, and its vi­sion is to ex­pand this net­work to 1,000 part­ner univer­si­ties in the next three to five years, said its sec­re­tary gen­eral, Sun Wan­song.

IUIA was founded with sup­port from many Chi­nese govern­ment agen­cies, in­clud­ing China In­vest­ment and Pro­mo­tion Agency of the Min­istry of Com­merce, the Torch High Tech­nol­ogy In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter of the Min­istry of Sci­ence and the Tech­nol­ogy, and For­eign Ex­pert Bureau.

It has also set up joint-ven­ture com­pa­nies with Chi­nese main­land com­pa­nies to in­vest in promis­ing projects. It has al­ready in­vested in three com­pa­nies, in the US, Hong Kong and Canada, all of which are star­tups in­tent on ex­pand­ing into the main­land.

Con­tact the writer at ce­cily.liu@mail.chi­nadai­lyuk.com

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