Last month, CAMP CEO Andrea Myles (麦舒岚) headed abroad for Australia Week in China (11-15 April). We had a chat about her trip highlights and why China is leading the charge in global innovation.
Welcome back from your busy stints abroad! First up, what is Australia Week in China?
It started off the back of something called G’day USA, a government-led initiative to tap into a new international market (originally, America) and introduce the best of Australia. Our relationship with China is so rich and it’s been Australia’s largest trading partner for a while. Yet it was only in 2014 Australia decided to make an investment as large as the G'Day USA campaign and started Australia Week in China. Bridge-making between our two nations can only improve the relationship and the government are correct to invest in this heavily.
So what happened and why was it a good investment of your time?
Australia Week in China 2016 had several streams. There were 1000 people in the total delegation, and I was one of 100 in the innovation stream. We met members of the start-up and venture capital communities, and individuals from universities and government across three cities: Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai. Each city has a population of about 20 million or more, so they’re what you could call nation-sized markets. And each is very distinct in its characteristics. Shenzhen is known as the innovation capital of China, Beijing is the political hub, and Shanghai is the finance capital.
What was your take on the culture of innovation in China?
In short you could say the shift is from "Made in China" to "Created and Made in China". Across Sydney we have 29 incubators and accelerators, whereas in one section of Shanghai there are 400! In China there’s so much opportunity for specialisation. Whole cities have focused on one vertical, such as aerospace, the internet of things, or even the production of porcelain.
What were some highlights of your trip?
Meeting fellow Australians who are just as passionate about the China innovation space as I am was fantastic to see. When I first came to China at the turn of the millennium, only 2 per cent of the cars on the road were privately owned. I remember standing on a bridge on the second ring road in Beijing thinking: "imagine if, as China develops, it shirks traditional energy sources and goes green from the get go". Obviously that didn't happen, but it really made my heart smile to see domestically designed and manufactured clean electric cars with engines producing zero pollution. Where China will be by 2050 will surprise many, but not if you have your ear to the ground now.
We heard you brushed shoulders with Australia’s PM, Malcolm Turnbull?
Haha yes! One of the events was a 2000-person lunch with the Prime Minister and his wife Lucy Turnbull. I was one of only 10 delegates selected to meet the PM and help launch the Shanghai Landing Pad.
You’re headed back to China this month. What’s on the agenda?
I’ll be going back to cement the connections made over Australia Week in China and start building opportunities for CAMP 2017. Essentially, CAMP is a matchmaking platform connecting the innovation ecosystems in China and Australia. In the centre of my trip, I’m going to Israel with Lucy Turnbull and a women’s delegation of 35 people. (Read more about the Trade Mission here). I'm counting on having my mind blown, so expect updates!