Business / Hangzhou G20

Hangzhou a top choice for overseas returnees

By Cai Muyuan in Hangzhou ( Updated: 2016-09-05 09:18

When Li Wenxin, a Yale graduate, quit her analyst job at a cloud service provider at Silicon Valley, she knew she made the right choice coming back to China.

"I didn't think twice when I chose Hangzhou to start a VR company," the 28-year-old said.

Li was later pleased to see that the entrepreneurial atmosphere in Hangzhou appeared to be even stronger than Silicon Valley's, becoming the city's driving force, drawing talent, technology and capital for the city's development.

Li is among millions of ambitious Chinese talents who return home from overseas to realize their dreams of owning a business, knowing China has their back.

China has been promoting entrepreneurship and innovation as a key driver of the nation's economic transition. Placing reform and innovation at the top of its agenda, the G20 summit will bring new innovative opportunities for not only the host city Hangzhou, but also the world at large.

The government has made market entry easier, cut red tape and rolled out tax breaks for startups. Overseas returnees are emerging as major forces in entrepreneurship.

According to Report on Entrepreneurship and Employment of Chinese Overseas Students released by Center for China and Globalization in 2015, the number of students who come back to China has seen a 78.4 percent increase, compared to 2010.

Hangzhou ranks first, both on number of returnees and increasing rate of returnees between 2010 and 2015, on the list.

Statistics from the Hangzhou Returnees Service Center show that by the end of last year, the total number of companies founded by overseas returnees exceeded 1,200. Most of the companies are in Bio-medicine, electronic information, energy saving and environmental protection industries and have collectively brought the city 28 billion yuan.

The returned entrepreneurs are mostly post-80s generation with master degrees and above, the report shows.

A pioneer parks called "Dream Town" which is located in the city's Future Technology Park, one of the big four parks in Hangzhou, harbors many returned startups. Wang Mengqiu, a Stanford graduate who founded Zero Zero Robotics in 2014 chose "Dream Town" to be one of the company's locales. Its product Hover Camera, a selfie drone, has gone viral online before its release.

"Hangzhou is becoming China's Silicon Valley," said Liu Lixin, the deputy manager of Zero Zero Robotics' Hangzhou office.

According to Liu, the city's talent resources, the passion of the city and its people have for new technologies and the rich soil for starting up businesses that the local 'big trees' , such as Alibaba and NetEase, have already provided are the reasons why the company chose Hangzhou.

The government provided the startups with fund and facilities support as well as tax benefit, Liu said. The convenience after the city cut the red tapes also helped the company greatly.

'Dream Town' has also introduced incubators for startups which provide supports on financing and legal issues so the entrepreneurs can focus on their core businesses, Liu said.

"Life is made easier here too," said Liu. "The town has accommodation called 'You+ youth entrepreneur apartments' and has outsourced the property management system to a company that made everything smart and convenient. We also have a card that can buy items and services everywhere in the town."

Tang Tao, vice minister of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said earlier this year that the government will improve measures to attract Chinese overseas talent to return home.

China launched its "Thousand Talents" recruitment program for global experts in 2008.

Statistics shows that in Future Technology Park, there are 30,000 startup talents, 1,870 of which are overseas returnees. The city has planned to be a well-known center for startup and innovation by 2020.

LinkedIn's latest survey shows that returnees were encouraged by the good momentum of Chinese economy and the country's talent policy.

Up to now, China has 321 industrial parks for overseas returnees. Last year, returnees participated in 19,000 research and development projects.

"The wave is likely to continue in the coming years as there is still ample room for improvement," said Zhou Shiping, an official with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

Hangzhou founded a Returnees Entrepreneurship Association in July this year to better serve overseas returnees. Xie Shuangcheng, deputy major of Hangzhou expects that the young returnees can contribute to Hangzhou's 'going global' and also attract the world's attention to the city.

Wang Jinbao, an advisor in Returnees Entrepreneurship Institute, said that the transition from "made in China" to "Created in China" in the major trend and innovation is the key. "As an early returnee, I can use my experience to instruct the younger returnees and enhance their confidence in starting up businesses."

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