From May 13 to May 17, our director Marina Andrieu, was privileged to be the guest of FEDIL ICT mission in China to learn more about innovation, new technologies and ICT usage in China.
This study trip was a wonderful learning experience and that made her feel the duty of for sharing it with our WIDE community.
Special thanks to Gérard Hoffmann, Chairman of FEDIL-ICT, Michèle Detaille, Chairwoman of FEDIL and Céline Tarraube, IT and innovation advisor of FEDIL, who invited WIDE to join the delegation made of leaders in the field of ICT and telecom from Luxembourg.
The group visited three cities, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing; many companies and incubators.
This experience can be described through two concepts: massive scale and incredible speed.
As the industry is concerned, one of its key aspects is of course the size of the market, since a company or startup launching in China has direct access to a giant market of 1.2 billion people.
Besides what mentioned above, regulation was another often heard term during the trip, since there is not much regulation in China. For example, nowadays self-driving cars can circulate on streets, without worrying about any regulation.
Mobile usage: while many countries are currently catching up with the west, mobile usage in China is impressive and seems to have taken an even bigger part in daily life. We discovered how WeChat was the one service that capture every aspect of their lives, from messaging, to making payments and building business connection.
Strategy: China has decided to invest massively in innovation and web services in the last couple of years. It’s clear that China has already succeeded in building its digital sovereignty, as their innovation/tech leaders compete on the same level than the GAFA. Between US and Chinese giants, how can Europe bring out the next big things ?
Definition of big and small is obviously different. Marina was also impressed by all the numbers given at various presentation: they were told about billion of RMB, 100 of million of users, being market leader a few years after launching a service or company.
Given the size of the market, it goes without saying that it is not even possible to compare numbers between Luxembourg and China. A few colleagues in the mission try to divide 1.2 billion / 500 000 to get a ratio to have a benchmark and, even the European market that you could maybe compare has less than half of the size. Within 27 countries, lots of regulations, cultural and language diversities which are obviously a strength for us, it seems to be complicated to read for the Chinese when doing business.
The business matter is that alongside this giant, you can really see that Luxembourg, by being small, agile and multilingual can be the gateway to Europe for China. This has already been proved successful, especially in the financial sector, thanks to payment licences recently granted to Alipay and PingPong.
One further value shared between the two countries is Trust and, Marina Andrieu thinks this to make a lot of sense in business relationships.
Furthermore, she also thinks that when coming back from China, the only thing you can is “this is massive, they are going so fast and yes, it’s happening, we saw it”. Indeed, that’s the main reason for which she wanted to share her experience with you.
Lastly, this is their detailed program, along with what they were able to see:
- Presentation about innovation and startup, with several companies and organisations
- Visit of Tongji University Design and Technology department
- Visit of Carrefour China and meeting with its CEO
- Hema/Happy Hippo: a new chain of stores – from Alibaba – which deliver any product in 30 minutes door to door
- Microsoft accelerator with 3 pitches including Dorabot. The General manager James Chou is a speaker at ICT Spring this year
- Shang Xia: a new chinese luxury brand inspired by China finest crafts and masters “made with time and love”.
- NIO: a new chinese car brand which is developing autonomous driving. The company started 4 years ago and has already cars on the road.
- One hour away from Shanghai, this city is known as a romantic place but also as the home of Alibaba
- Alibaba: visit of the campus, currently 16000 people on Campus. Not far from where Jack Ma started his company and the flat now is an innovation room.
- AntFinancial: a division of Alibaba focusing on bringing finance to the Chinese market including payments – Alipay – and micro loans.
- Hikvision: developing camera which include sophisticated algorithms including facial recognition
- In the evening they had the chance to attend a cultural light show on the lake – Xihu impression -.
- After a 4 hours ride on a high speed train who took them up to 350 km/hour, they arrived at final stop and visited:
- Sinoventure: visit with a famous, an accelerator and VC fund, where more than 200 companies have been incubated
- Tuspark: a fund for innovation directly working with the nearby top Universities, including Beijing University.
- Innovation avenue, a famous street where lot of startups kicked off and home to several incubators as well.