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Tech leaders show interest in China

By RENA LI in Toronto | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-06-28 10:32

Global technology leaders and investors who gathered at North America's fastest-growing tech conference showed a great interest in the Chinese market and technical cooperation.

As one of the largest international technology conferences, Collision 2022 (June 20-23) in Toronto brought together more than 35,000 attendees, including 900 speakers, 1,500 startups, 850 investors and 100 unicorn companies in-person after being conducted online for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Andrew Sanden, co-founder and CEO of Intrinsic Innovations, said that China's tech innovation is accelerating, and his clients are eager to resume business as usual with Chinese partners.

"COVID has shown the importance of partner relationships. It is very important to have established business cooperation with China before and after the pandemic," Sanden told China Daily in the event's investor lounge. 

"If you already have a trust relationship in China, then you can still do business," he said. 

As an entrepreneur adviser helping tech startups transit their technologies into business, Sanden's company has partnered with Chinese TusStar, a business incubator that has established more than 150 incubation bases in China.

Sanden said his company is trying to provide consulting services and mentoring programs in Canada and China. The most innovative one he is working with is a Canadian startup company focused on the medical industry.

"It's a very early stage, but it could be a very good opportunity to go to China to develop its business in the healthcare industry," he said.

Despite the diplomatic discord resulting from the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US extradition request over the past few years, business between Canada and China is still being conducted, according to Sanden.

"At the micro level, there's a problem, but on the individual level, there's still business as usual. Entrepreneurs want to build business. They will go where the opportunity is," Sanden added. 

Pietro Goglia, an Italian deputy trade commissioner, told China Daily that China is important to them, and they never stopped cooperating during the pandemic. 

"We work a lot with China; China is so important to us," Goglia said at the Italian delegation booth, one of the 130 national, regional and local trade delegations that attended Collision. 

"We have collaborations with China in the areas of high-tech manufacturing, agricultural products and clean energy," said Goglia. 

Rather than focusing on behemoth tech companies, the conference sought to bring the most promising early-stage startups, according to Katherine Farrell, director of communications for Web Summit, the parent company of Collision.

"We really focus on the next-generation startups that are going to be the future unicorns and who are reshaping the world we live in today," Farrell said.

A number of Chinese-involved startups attended the event to showcase their technologies and connect with potential customers and investors.  

Zhou Haoliang, CEO at Mech Solutions Ltd, a Chinese-led tech startup, said its technology attracted investors at the conference.   

"We provide 3D-printing and AI-powered print failure-detection technology," Zhou said at one of the crowded startup booths. "We have met a German investor who has shown interest to invest in us. We have a great chance to collaborate and build a potential partnership."

Zhang Lei, manger of systems analysis at Netex, another Chinese-led tech startup, said his company has designed an app-controlled hub to manage smart-home and community-living devices. 

"People who visited our booth expressed high interest in our products. I look for investors from around the world to expand our business," he said.

Artificial intelligence was a focus of the event.

Olivia Tong, marketing associate at Qii.AI, said the company found potential customers. "We provide AI-driven, remote digital-inspection software; we are here to promote our products. Actually, a lot of the audiences are interested in AI and virtual reality technology," she said. 

Paddy Cosgrave, the co-founder and CEO of Collision and Web Summit, told the media that China is rapidly developing in the AI space, in quantum computing and in electric vehicles, which could lead to more innovative competition in the world.

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