At the Holland Innovation Network part of our work is to explore opportunities for Dutch innovation and tech driven companies abroad. As mentioned in a previous article from our officer Bart van Hezewijk, there are many opportunities for foreign startups and scale-ups in China.

To help Dutch startups enter China we organized the first Shanghai bootcamp for Dutch startups from June 10 – 15. Our goal was to inform the Dutch founders and entrepreneurs about doing business in China, which specific challenges and obstacles you will encounter when expanding to China, and how to find solutions to overcome these obstacles and build a successful business here. We sincerely hope to see Crobox’ Rodger Buyvoets, Dashmote’s Dennis Tan, Stefan Tan, and Sven Verleun, LegalThings’s Martijn Broersma, Roader’s Sjoerd Pitstra, and Solf’s Julien Reincke in China again soon and help them grow their business here.

With amazing support of our many great partners for this bootcamp we have been able to inform the participants about ways to deal with operational challenges, how to connect to the right people, networks, and platforms in Shanghai, and how to start building and growing the business here.

We kicked off our bootcamp program with a dinner on Sunday where Reinout van Malenstein of HFG Law & IP Practice gave a very insightful keynote and useful tips about protecting your IP in China.

On Monday PwC hosted our delegation at their Innovation Centre in Shanghai. Ivy Kuo, Reem Althawadi, and Pan Sun shared more details about the 3-month Path to Profit programme for innovation-driven SMEs and PwC Shanghai’s Deal Source Platform, both very interesting opportunities for the participating startups. Shanghai Municipal government actively supports startups (mass entrepreneurship) and innovation, and has specific policies beneficial for foreign entrepreneurs, as explained by Celina Huang of Shanghai Technology Innovation Center. Tiao Kien Ng of Brunel shared their experience of supporting European high-tech companies growing their business in China and provided practical information on relevant topics such as company registration, visa and working permits, and HR and recruitment. Last but not least Lucas Rondez, seasoned foreign entrepreneur in China and founder of niHUB innovation center in Hanghzou, provided the Dutch startups with tips and tricks for pitching to Chinese investors.

WeWork Community Manager Nicole Shen showed us around at their amazing location Yunnan Lu; how many office buildings have a basketball court on the rooftop with a view on Shanghai Tower? Our roundtable discussion with Dutch entrepreneurs in Shanghai provided valuable insights on how to deal with the cultural differences between China and the Netherlands, and how to localize and adapt to the Chinese market and consumers. Thank you for your valuable contributions Luuk Eliens, Luuk Strijbosch, Shin Gern Sam, and Thomas Knoop!

In the evening we co-organized “Taste the Future: Could insects be a sustainable protein alternative?” with Bits x Bites and Green Initiatives at Naked Hub Nanjing Lu. Keynote speaker Prof. Arnold van Huis and panelists Jacky Wu and Federico Duarte shared their views on how to create a more sustainable future of food by eating insects.

Tuesday morning Jean Liu gave us a tour at local incubator and accelerator XNode who work with their Dutch partner HighTechXL on startup/scale-up acceleration and corporate innovation programs. Jasper Gill and Ana Terra shared some of the impressive achievements of these programs before the participating startups joined the mentor sessions with XNode’s startup founders and partners.

At Kungfu Startups, a cooperation between Microsoft China and Zhangjiang High Tech Park, the Dutch startups all pitched for Chinese investors and made some useful connections. A big thank you to Gloria Xu and Anna Didenko for setting up this great event! Please read Anna’s article to know more about the Dutch startups and their experience at Kungfu Startups! We ended the second day of our bootcamp with a networking reception at the Consul-General’s residence.

From Wednesday to Friday two big events took place in Shanghai: CES Asia and the Global AI+ New Business Summit. Ultimaker and Roader showcased their newest products at their booths in the CES Asia Startup Park’s (modest) Holland Pavilion. The bootcamp participants attended a meetup with Chinese corporates at the AI Summit where Prof. Maarten de Rijke, Director of the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence, was one of the keynote speakers. At CES Asia all Dutch startups pitched at the Startup Park Stage and Prof. De Rijke also gave a presentation in the conference session ‘AI Innovations in Healthcare’.

We evaluated our first Shanghai bootcamp during a dinner at ‘100 Century Avenue’ on the 91st floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center, looking back at an interesting, inspiring, and useful week for all participants. Finally, the Dutch startups invited potential business partners they met during the week to join our closing networking drinks with a view.

To watch the (less than 3 minutes but still pretty cool) after-movie of our first Shanghai bootcamp, please click here 😉

At Holland Innovation Network China, we are here to help you understand China better and connect you to the right people. Are you a Dutch startup or scale-up and interested to know more about the opportunities in China, do not hesitate to reach out.

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