Monday, September 3, 2012

Silicon Dragon Eyes Shanghai's New Tech Hub

Silicon Dragon (above) recently interviewed Charles Chan, the executive director of Shuion Land, about the company's new tech hub in Shanghai, Knowledge and Innovation Community or KIC.

It's the site of our Silicon Dragon Shanghai 2012 event, held on September 13 with the city's leading venture investors and tech entrepreneurs. See you there!

Charles Chan
l  What is the vision for KIC and is it a kind of Sand Hill Road for Shanghai?
        Compared to Sand Hill Road, Sand Hill Road is notable for its concentration of venture capital firms, and easy access to Stanford University and Silicon Valley. KIC is dedicated to become a platform to align with different resources from “Campus” , “Community” , “Tech Park” to cultivate and incubate start-ups and help them grow to a greater scale. But KIC not only integrated the scientific innovation spirit of US Silicon Valley, but also absorbed the creative culture of Paris Left Bank. It has become a place for communication, information exchange, negotiation and cooperation, and even relaxation. It's a cradle for entrepreneurship and innovation in China, and accelerating it through international best practices.

l  Why was KIC located close to Fudan University? Is this because of the cluster effect, such as Silicon Valley with Stanford University
Of course. KIC is located in the Wujiaochang sub-center in the Yangpu district of Shanghai, clustering within 14 major universities and colleges, including Fudan and Tongji. The abundant resources of universities and research institutions nearby cannot be found anywhere else in Shanghai. Those nearby universities provide talent support and bring continuous energy to those MNCs in KIC. For example, both ebaoTech & EMC signed a strategic partnership with surrounding universities including internship program/training course/lab research, etc. The key concept for KIC is “three zones integration:” “Campus” , “Community” , “Tech Park.” We believe that our “Knowledge and Innovation Community” will eventually become a platform for information exchange and communication based on the resources and talents from “Campus”, supported by the domestic and international high-tech corporations in “Tech Park”, venture capital firms and the government services, inspired by the atmosphere and lifestyle in “Community”.

l  Will Shui On Group develop other tech centers like this in other locations in China, in addition to Shanghai and Dalian?

KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) is a new business model, and we are still exploring possiblilities to make our vision come true. Now Shuion Land has a similar project, Dalian Tiandi in northern China, with GFA 3 million sqm, and focused on the global software and outsourcing industries to provide an integrated community. While we are extending our reach in the Chinese property market, we have stepped up our effort to set the trend and contribute to the creation of large-scale, multi-faceted knowledge communities to provide a total "work-live-learn-play" environment. I think KIC sets a model for us to introduce similar projects in other key cities in China.

l  How did Shui On Group get the idea for KIC? How long was the idea in development? how does this project compare to Xintiandi?

The story traces back to Shui On Group founder – Vincent Lo. Mr. Lo himself is a successful entrepreneur, and he has the strong passion to help young people. When he visited Silicon Valley over eight years ago, he was inspired and dedicated to create a “Silicon Valley” in Shanghai, which was quite forward looking in China. In his vision, KIC will be a think tank to assemble world famous enterprises and top class elite talents in scientific research, finance, and business consulting, and also become a platform for cultural exchange regularly for organizing various cultural activities, promoting communication, and enriching community life.

Both XINTIANDI and KIC have a full range of modern facilities for residential, office, retail, entertainment and leisure. Shui On projects provide a unique environment enabling life enrichment of "Live-Work-Play".
In terms of difference, XINTIANDI is the “city’s living room”, a Shanghai landmark, a trendy place for people from all over the world to play, entertain, live, work and enjoy. It blends the architecture charm of "shikumen" with modern features and facilities. While KIC is a knowledge community, it aims to create an environment where innovators and entrepreneurs can share knowledge, communicate, negotiate, cooperate, and relax.

 l  How is KIC encouraging startups in Shanghai?

Part of KIC’s core offering is an enterprise ecosystem where companies, foreign and local, big and small, can interact and work together for mutual benefits. While big companies and technology leaders would be a major anchor to this ecosystem, innovation and entrepreneurship would provide the talent and creativity needed to sustain the long-term vibrancy and growth of the Community.

Towards this goal, KIC has been actively promoting and nurturing entrepreneurial culture and spirit since its inception. It cooperated with Dragon TV in 2005 to launch a TV entrepreneurship competition named Winner in Shanghai, which set off a surge of entrepreneurial activity. Impressed with KIC's offerings, the winning players have subsequently hosted their operations in KIC.

Learning from the successful experience of Silicon Valley, KIC also founded the IPO Club where dozens of innovative entrepreneurial activities are held every year. As Shanghai’s first entrepreneurship club, IPO rolled out KIC Star incubation program, for prominent and successful businessmen and industry leaders to share their knowledge and experiences, as well as mentor aspiring entrepreneurs. More than 10 aspiring entrepreneurs have been successfully matched and coached by KIC mentors in the past two years.

KIC has nurtured technology startups since its inception. Some of these companies are now market leaders in their own right. Some have successfully obtained funding and even listed in overseas bourses. KIC now seeks to further enhance its incubator platform. Apart from the usual provision of plug-and-play venue for entrepreneurs, this incubator will offer a whole suite of services to help support and nurture the growth of startups from business match-making to technology partnership and licensing to fund raising to even international expansion.

 l  How many companies are now located at KIC -- both startups and SMEs, plus tech companies?
KIC is home to now more than 300 enterprises, with more than 6,000 talents working here. Small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and technology startups make up more than 80% of this Community. Fortune 500 companies like EMC, Oracle, IBM and Deloitte are some of the MNC member companies of our Community.
l  How important are Silicon Valley Bank, Bay Area Council and Innovation Works to the success of KIC?

As part of its holistic enterprise ecosystem, KIC works very closely with key players like government bodies, universities and research institutions, professional bodies and so on, to help companies to grow and expand. Silicon Valley Bank, Bay Area Council and Innovation Works are some of our partners in this ecosystem. In particular Silicon Valley Bank and Bay Area Council work closely with us to provide an effective landing pad for American companies to expand and grow in China and in turn, for our Community members to expand and grow in US as well. In fact, we have a Joint Venture with TUSPark, Silicon Valley Bank and Northern Light Venture Capital in the form of an incubator in Santa Clara, USA to do just that. We launched this incubator called InnoSpring in mid-April this year, and demand for its services has been encouraging; with some 30 companies being hosted in InnoSpring.

KIC also works closely with partners in other major technology hubs such as Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong, to actively link our Community members with potential partners for market and technology access, as well as funding. Through our networks, our Community companies could also have access to launches in these overseas markets. For example, our Japanese partner has made available its incubating space and services to KIC Community members for free. Through its strategic partnership with key players both domestically and internationally, KIC constantly seeks to improve its enterprise ecosystem to better support its Community.