Events Technology and Entrepreneurship in China: Evidence from High-Tech Sectors and Regions

Time: Thursday, April 18, 2019 19:00-20:30
Location: CFLD Hall, Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University

Nicholas Vonortas, Professor of Economics and International Affairs, The George Washington University
Christopher Thomas, Managing Partner for Global Digital Strategy, McKinsey & Company
LAI Yanzhao, Ph.D. Candidate, Economics, The George Washington University

The event began with a series of short presentations on the topic of technology and entrepreneurship in China. Mr. Thomas introduced where innovation sits in the Chinese economy, referencing four segments of innovation; classical science-based innovation, engineering innovation, operational innovation and customer/market-based innovation. Extending the focus of his presentation to the transformative technology of artificial intelligence (AI), Mr. Thomas spoke of the challenge China faces as it transitions to a research and science driven innovation model.

Tech-start-ups are flourishing in China, as demonstrated by Mr. Lai’s academic study on the sources and distribution of the entrepreneurship boom in China. Higher levels of scientific knowledge production are associated with more open and diversified regions. The high entrepreneurial activity of these areas such as Shenzhen, has developed regional clusters. From the empirical evidence, Mr. Lai’s research paper recognised the importance of supportive infrastructure in developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem and concluded with suggestions for sustainable development of such an ecosystem in China.

The trends of regional clusters and the challenging transition to a research and science driven innovation model are not only evident in China, they are part of a global phenomenon occurring in both developed and developing countries. Mr. Vonortas described that the desire of policy makers to create clusters in their regions and make the national transition to innovate is a lengthy process. Scientific knowledge and quantitative data are not the only, qualitative and tacit knowledge are crucial in order for industries to develop.

Following individual presentations, the speakers joined an open panel discussion with the audience. The three speakers agreed that the tech ecosystem does not define itself by geographical boundaries – technology and entrepreneurship are fundamentally global and for everyone. Therefore, policies that encourage entrepreneurship and promote investment in technology will best support national and global development.

By Alice Emily Osborne