By Frans-Emmanuel Bengtsson, Junior Project Manager and HEC Lausanne Ambassador
2019 is a very interesting and passionate year for the overall innovation ecosystem in China. Amongst the impactful activities was the return of Venture Leaders to China, with its pitching roadshow and taking part in several high-level events across 6 megacities in China!
Venture Leaders China is a unique 10-day business development program to explore the Chinese market potential for high growth Swiss startups. It is an exclusive opportunity to be part of a top entrepreneurial team, accelerate ones’ business growth and showcase Switzerland as a leading country for innovation. Every year, 10 carefully selected high-tech entrepreneurs get a unique chance to give their technology and business a commercial boost, thanks to Venture Leaders.
For the sixth consecutive year, swissnex China was proud to be accompanying a high-quality delegation of top Swiss startups in China for a roadshow that span 10 days and 6 cities. Venture Leaders China 2019 took place from June 25th to July 5th and included business workshops, investors meetings and public events in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Changzhou, Dalian and Beijing. The roadshow offered the startups unparalleled exposure and insight into the Chinese market, along with learning about business opportunities, how corporate affairs work, pitching to investors and getting insights from experts.
The delegation was led by Jordi Montserrat, co-founder and managing partner at Venturelab and Felix Moesner, CEO at swissnex China and was composed of the following startup champions: Daniel Sztutwojner, Beekeeper | Peter Ruff, Exploris AG | Samir Bouabdallah, Flybotix | Dominik Trost, holo|one | Simon Bachmann, IDUN Technologies AG | Yannik Kopp, LORIOT | Marco Pisano, Lymphatica Medtech | Dorina Thiess, Piavita | Alexis Steinmann, Tomplay | Maurizio Migliore, Touchless Automation. In addition, the team could count on Simin Yang and Frans-E. Bengtsson, both from swissnex China, for the organization and the coordination of the trip and events.
Hong Kong 06-25-2019
The Venture Leaders’ 10 day’s journey started off as intensive and dynamic as expected. Freshly arrived from Zurich, the 10 startups kicked off their intense pitching roadshow as soon as they set foot in Hong Kong. The 2019 Swiss Innovation Night taking place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center offered great networking opportunities and paved the way for the many upcoming events.
Once the networking event was over, it was time for the entire team to jump into the bus towards the next adventure: destination Shenzhen!
For many of the Venture Leaders, it was their first time waking up in mainland China. This brought even more excitement among the team as they were really looking forward for the upcoming program. During the morning, our startup champions were warmly welcomed at Colibri Technologies (technology-oriented automation company providing simple solutions for R&D) and at DJI (drone manufacturers). They got the great privilege to meet Colibri CTO Dr Liu Shaoming which appeared to be an EPFL alumus! Switzerland is really everywhere!
The entire team gained great insights from the people they met at Colibri and DJI. After their morning visit to Colibri and DJI, our National Startup team jumped straight into their first pitch in mainland China at the magnificent Shenzhen Stock Exchange building, gaining access to the network of local industry experts and investors.
The pitching event at the Shenzhen Stock Exchange was very appreciated from the startups as it was the first time that some had the chance to confront themselves to Chinese investors. Moreover, the networking session was very fruitful and great connections were made! Next stop: Shanghai!
On the 3rd day of the roadshow, our 10 top Swiss startups were joined by 170+ registered investors and industry leaders in Shanghai: the "Capital of capital" for the Swiss Startup Pitching Night. The dynamic Q&A interaction and networking clearly demonstrated the rich startup funding opportunities in China's wealthiest city!
As Simon Bachmann, CEO of IDUN Technologies puts it: “We arrived at the venue tired since we had just landed from Shenzhen. However, as soon as we saw the venue, the mood lightened up. The scenery on the stage was amazing and the audience was packed of interested listeners. I particularly liked the couch and how we were all sitting on the stage. This gave the whole event a very relaxed mood. These two events where my highlights but we had many more promising stops on our incredibly packed journey through China.”
The day started off with the visit of Rieder, a Swiss company producing manufacturing machine for all kinds of businesses. It was very interesting to understand how this Swiss firm established themselves in China and how they perceived the future in this particular market.
Later that day, we had the immense chance to take part into the Swiss Innovation Day, organized by the Changzhou National High-Tech Development Zone CZND. It gave the opportunity to the Venture Leaders to pitch in front of investors & industry experts. Furthermore, next to the Venture Leaders pitching highlight, Consul General Olivier Zehnder & Vice-Mayor Chen Zhengchun gave their addresses, which was followed by a panel on innovation-driven smart manufacturing. Thank you to Jay Jiang and Ryan Zhang from CZND! Next stop: back to Shanghai!
We are now back in Shanghai for a morning workshop session where our Venture Leaders team joined industry leaders at Rouse Consulting for a deep dive into some essential topics such as IP & trademark and how to attract venture capital in China. Many thanks to Melvin (Yuan) MEI, Nigel Wong, Haifeng Wang, Ruixing Zhu and Ren Zhanbing for sharing their valuable insights!
The team enjoyed an activity-free afternoon where many individual meetings with investors were scheduled, resulting from very fruitful pitching sessions previously held. Next stop on the list: World Economic Forum in Dalian!
Dalian 06-30-2019 / 07-01-2019 / 07-02-2019 / 07-03-2019
After days of intense pitching, networking, coaching as well as signing deals while roadshowing in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Changzhou, our National Startup Team arrived in Dalian for the World Economic Forum's global meeting on innovation, science and technology!
Our Venture Leaders spent 3 intense but fruitful days at the World Economic Forum of the New Champions and enjoyed meeting other leaders from everywhere in the world. Great business leads and great networking!
On the final evening in Dalian, the Venture Leaders pitched at the Swiss Incubator event during the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions. We had the great pleasure to welcome the Swiss Ambassador Bernardino Regazzoni, who gave the opening address, which was followed by Olivier Schwab, WEF’s Managing Director & Jordi Montserrat, Managing Partner of Venturelab.
This 5th pitching session was the second competition of the Venture Leaders China tour, following the one that saw Toucheless Automation win in Shanghai. The winner elected by the crowd was Dorina Thiess with Piavita. Congratulations!
Next and final destination: Beijing!
Beijing 07-04-2019 / 07-05-2019
On the final day, our 10 amazing startups pulled an incredible feat of 3 pitches in 1 day!
Pitch #1 at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business to CKGSB's Chuang investors network.
Pitch #2 at Plug and Play China to investors from Beijing’s dynamic innovation ecosystem.
Pitch #3 at Swiss Ambassador Bernardino Regazzoni’s invitation. This 8th pitch & grande finale of the 10-day-roadshow was held at the Embassy of Switzerland in the People's Republic of China where Alexis Steinmann, Tomplay won the coveted Swiss Embassy Award – Congrats!
The roadshow ended in the best manner it could possibly have. After a very powerful networking session at the embassy, the Venture Leaders discovered Beijing by night, enjoying a well deserve taste of baijiu before heading towards new horizons. As a matter of fact, some Venture Leaders even extended their stay here in China to meet investors they had previously connected with during the pitching events.
We would like to express our deep gratitude for the strong support of all our partners, especially to Jordi Montserrat and his team from Venturelab who produced extraordinary work with the startups, co-organizing the roadshow with swissnex China. A huge thanks to the Swiss Ambassador in China, Ambassador Regazzoni and his amazing team, our Embassy colleagues Nektarios Palaskas, Jonas Thürig, Chenchen Liu, Yijun William Wu and Tobias Werder for the stellar work they did in organizing pitching events and business meetings, to Andreas Rufer and Winnie from the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong, to Zhen Xiao and Kuno Gschwend from the Swiss Centers China and to all the other supporting partners that made this journey happen, such as digitalswitzerland, Canton de Vaud, VISCHER, Canton of Zurich, EPF Lausanne, ETH Zurich, Gebert Rüf Stiftung and the Changzhou national high-tech district. A huge thanks also goes to the company that kindly received us, Colibri and DJI, and to the speakers Melvin Mei, Nigel Wong, Haifeng Wang, Ruixing Zhu and Ren Zhanbing for sharing their valuable insights during our workshop at Rouse in Shanghai and to all the other key people who shared their experience and expertise of the Chinese market with our startups.
A big thank you to all of you who made this possible!
Vielen Danke & see you next year!