UK/China business opportunities

March 18, 2019

As part of our Leadership Series, Iain Hopper (Director of Life Sciences & Health Technology) & Toby Young (Head of Technology Practice) welcomed C-suite executives from across Technology and Life Sciences to dinner and discussion exploring China business opportunities.

Toby was pleased to welcome as guest speakers at the Technology Leadership Dinner, Ting Zhang of Crayfish International; Rick Hao of IQ Capital Partners & Henk Koopmans of Huawei Technologies R&D UK. At the Life Sciences event, hosted by Iain, guests enjoyed hearing from David Atkins in relation to Congenica’s partnership with Digital China Health; Billy Boyle on Owlstone Medical’s recently announced expansion into China; and Yunming Shao from TUS Park, who provided great insight.

Common themes emerged across both events for UK companies looking to conduct business with China:

  • Due to cultural, language and relationship development differences, in-country partnerships or a localised team/freelance workers are absolutely vital for business success in China;
  • Collaborate with long-term relationships in mind and seek mutually beneficial partnerships;
  • Don’t go it alone; organised events such as investor roadshows make life much easier
  • In China, WeChat is embraced as a far less formal and cumbersome form of communication than email, and often expedites processes and negotiations significantly;
  • The focus between the UK and China used to be very one dimensional. UK would sell to China and outsource there. Now China’s tech is catching up & there is currently a huge push in China for innovation. Historically this has been focused on B2C but is now targeting the B2B space. The government has put in a 5-year plan for AI development;
  • 48% of global equity funding in AI has come from Chinese money. With new US policies limiting this, there will be a greater focus on UK/Europe;
  • The market is dominated by Baidu, Alibaba & Tencent (BAT). They drive investment and set trends;
  • Average time from start-up to unicorn is 4 years;
  • IP protection is far more robust that people typically perceive – this is driven by China’s own need to progress their own technologies;
  • Collectively the UK should be proactive in shaping China’s appetite and recognise that a passive approach will be interpreted as indifference;
  • Don’t be fooled by the apparent large sums of VC money on offer from China – credible investors with experience are what matters and currently this represents a trickle;
  • Common misconceptions can put people off seeking to work with China, however with the right partnerships and guidance, business is no more challenging than any other international market.

Attendance at Leadership Series events is by invitation for C-suite executives from innovative growth businesses.  For more information on future events please contact Helen Poole – Head of Marketing & Events at Bailey Fisher.

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