I left Shanghai Pudong Airport last Thursday, leaving behind the energy and innovation of the Shanghai tech industry. A truly inspiring non-stop event over several days organised by the very impressive Russ Shaw & John Zei of the amazing #TechGlobalAdvocates. (https://www.techlondonadvocates.org.uk/global-tech-advocates/) and with a big bit of help from the team at Seven Hills (www.wearesevenhills.com)

If truth be told, the quality of the attendees (I don’t include myself in that) was outstanding and we learned an amazing amount from all the panel discussions (I sat on two panel sessions – promoting Scotland and UK-China Collaboration opportunities), the Chinese government and Chinese business leaders presentations, and from one to one chats with international colleagues.

Gathered here were technology innovators, tech venture capital firms, lawyers, 1 insurance broker (!) and other business leaders from around the world. Alongside were the heads of Global Tech Advocates from as far afield as Mexico, Singapore, Italy, Spain and others. As well as the day of Festival there were visits to Innovation Labs, AI centres and Gaming companies organised by the very well connected CENTI Group.

There were a few simple messages/learnings that came out, of this visit for me anyway, so I thought I’d share these:

1. Global Tech Advocates truly is the world’s leading technology network. If you have ambitions as a business to be involved in connecting, collaboration, development, learning, sharing then this is the organisation to be in. Join your regional area branch now, I promise you will find it useful (and free!). Just drop me a note (jms@venturerisks.co.uk) if you would like an introduction to its founder Russ Shaw.

2. The Chinese people couldn’t be friendlier and more welcoming. The language differences can be tricky, but it is very clear that they are seeking business collaborations to share expertise, develop new markets or just share business stories. They are also seeking investment opportunities in the UK and Europe. If our clients would like introductions to any tech sector company/organisation in China please just get in touch.

3. We (Venture Risks) have made other brilliant connections that may be very helpful.

If our clients are looking for investment, we are in a position to help open the doors to that. On the trip were VC’s from amongst others Singapore, London and of course, China.. They are all very active in seeking investment opportunities. If you are looking to expand into other European countries or further afield, we can also connect you to GTA leaders who can help.

4. Artificial Intelligence is a big focus point for Chinese companies. They are making significant advancements across EduTech, HomeTech, MedTech and many, many others. This stuff, along with Big Data, is the future.

5. InsurTech is a very complicated area for disruption, particularly in the commercial insurance space, but Chinese companies are making big strides here. For example, Ping An has 20,000 staff working on Artificial Intelligence systems and Zhang An is already a fully online property insurer (backed by big money for the likes of Chinese monoliths Tencent and Alibaba)

[Note: Tech London Advocates is in the process of establishing an InsurTech Working Group of which I will be a Co-Chair along with Farooq Hanif of Credit Suisse. The exploration of the advancement and potential disruption to the insurance sector (a $4 trillion industry) is one of the most exciting areas of tech at the moment. Our launch party for this is expected to be in late November, please do drop me a line at jms@venturerisks.co.uk if you would like to attend]

6. Autonomous Vehicles (AV) are making swift progress in China albeit they may not be quite as technically advanced as the West. That said, they are already preparing streets with sensors, redesigning urban landscapes to cope with AV and critically, limiting AVs legal liability in the event of inevitable accidents. Beijing even has an E-Town, an area set aside for testing AV’s

There is money too, the Chinese Government has committed to spending $220bn to upgrade the country to 5G by 2025.

China’s big advantage? It’s a one-party state. What the Chinese government wants to happen, will happen. It can create roads for AV within the towns and cities without the fuss that Western governments would receive from local residents, by-laws, campaign groups etc

7. Here comes Internet of Things in the industrial, manufacturing and engineering sectors. The technology is strong and the roll out is commencing. If you are not connected you may quickly fall behind your Chinese competitors. [Note: We once spoke to the Head of Engineering at Siemens who stated that by 2025, 95% of all manufacturing companies would be IOT connected. Hearing what’s going on in China makes us believe this may all happen much quicker that that!]

8. The use of gaming as an educational tool is proving to be an outstanding success. Chinese company JingJi, (inventors of E-Sports Racing ) is using its software as a way to teach children about the motor racing industry and the engineering behind it all as well as ‘training the brain’ in problem solving, personal resilience and working under pressure. They also run the World E Racing Championship (WERC) event. This is a company very keen to collaborate with UK companies in the gaming sector. Please get in touch if you would like an introduction.

9. I had a chat the very enthusiastic Tony Clemson, UK Vice Counsel for Shanghai. Tony is hugely supportive of UK Tech connecting with Shanghai companies. If our clients could do with a little help and guidance in establishing connections let us know and we will introduce you to Tony, he is more than willing to help.

10. Despite the Chinese economic slowdown, pressured further because of the Trade Wars with the US, if Shanghai is reflective of many other parts of China, they are a nation determined to push on hard with tech innovation to the betterment of their nation and the advancement of their business interests. If the UK wants to keep up, it needs more government support, a continuing push on innovation by entrepreneurs and, just as critically, international collaboration.

This is the key to the success of #GlobalTechAdvocates, country boundaries do not matter. Sharing, connecting and working together on technology to solve world problems, eradicate the blight of poverty, improve education for all, create consumer value, work on climate change and so on are really what matters. It’s one world, and #GTA is connecting it

A couple of final thoughts for you:

1. A city of 13m people is excellent for the creation of monumental traffic jams.

2. If you attend a business conference be wary of handing the microphone over to a Chinese businessperson, you may never get it back! 🙂

Contact info: www.venturerisks.co.uk

Tel: 0330 001 0949

Email jms@venturerisks.co.uk or cm@venturerisks.co.uk

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