Have you heard of the Chinese phrase “above there is Heaven, below there are Suzhou and Hangzhou”? It is to describe the breathtaking beauty of the two nearby cities nestled in East China.
One of the most iconic cities in China, Hangzhou is not only rich in history and nature but also very young and digital-minded. It hosts a flock of Chinese homegrown tech giants such Alibaba and its financial spin-off Ant Financial, Hikvision, Dahua Technology, as well as numerous multinationals’ Chinese branches or innovation centres, such as Nokia’s AI 5G Lab, set up in Hangzhou in cooperation with China Mobile to shape future 5G and cloud products.
The city has been striving to build China’s top digital economy there and stands as one of China’s smartest cities. Curious about how Europe’s digitalisation and smart cities perform, Hangzhouers invited ChinaEU to present at the “Hangzhou Qiantang Smart City – Digital Economy Development Forum”, a sub-forum of the 2019 National Mass Innovation and Entrepreneurship Week earlier in June, of which Chinese Premier Li Keqiang addressed the opening ceremony.
Europe does not have its own tech giants like the U.S. GAFAM, namely Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, or China’s titans such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu. So, where is Europe in the digitalisation from a global perspective and how should Europe and China jointly work in this area?
Claudia Vernotti, director of ChinaEU, took great pleasure in accepting Hangzhou invitation. She told the forum that, until now, the lack of EU champions has not prevented the EU countries to be among the most advanced digital economies in the world, quoting the European Commission’s fresh report on the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) as well as figures of smart cities, AI, big data and cloud computing.
At the opening ceremony of the 4th Qiantang Star Entrepreneurial Innovation Competition, Claudia Vernotti cited individual cases of European start-up businesses to illustrate the dynamic European ecosystem of digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
Chinese funds were active at the event, among which was Cybernaut Investment Group, one of China’s most influential investment institutions. Cybernaut’s investment focuses on digital areas such as new generation of infrastructure including cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, “internet plus” industries, as well as the regional ecosystem of mass entrepreneurship and development of urban international facilities. At its branch office in Hangzhou, Cybernaut team held talks with ChinaEU on how to enhance China-Europe cooperation on digital economy.
Events in the Hangzhou Entrepreneurship Week became an occasion for European and Chinese tech companies to engage with each other, showcase latest applications as well as seek business cooperation. For instance, companies presented their ideas or products based on 5G and AI technologies to lure investors at the SCMC Accelerator – powered by Coca-Cola – and Nokia 5G innovation incubation camp, at niHUB Innovation Center, an extremely active incubator and training center specialising in bridging start-ups, tech and innovation from the West.