Zhangjiang hunts for next Chinese unicorns

Updated:2017-09-29 (chinadaily.com.cn)

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The fifth 895 Entrepreneurship Camp launched by Shanghai's Zhangjiang High Tech Park closes on Sept 20. [Photo/Pudong Times]

Shanghai's Zhangjiang High Tech Park hopes that it has uncovered a new batch of Chinese unicorn start-ups, after the park's celebrated 895 Entrepreneurship Camp came to a close on Sept 20.

Local officials pointed out at the camp's closing ceremony that Zhangjiang is already home to several unicorn companies—former start-ups that now have a market value over $1 billion—including internet finance company ppdai.com, online language training platform Hujiang, and Tencent publishing subsidiary China Literature.

The officials will be hoping that the latest clutch of projects unearthed by the 895 camp will be able to rise to such great heights.

The camp started its application process in May, and eventually selected just 32 projects from 300 entries to take part in the event.

After several rounds of competition, including attending roadshows and answering the hard-hitting questions of investors, an intelligent driving project won the "Star of Entrepreneurship" award, while a design for a bionic limb received the "Light of Entrepreneurship" title.

Seven of the projects also received funding from investors, while others got unsecured credit from banks and enjoyed partner training services.

Zhang Shenliang, founder of the bionic limb project, considered the partner training service to be very helpful. He said that the service had helped him lay a solid foundation for the future operation and industrialization of the project.

Zhangjiang authorities also announced the official launch of the "895 Growth Camp" at the closing ceremony, an upgraded version of the entrepreneurship camp that will provide start-ups with better services in a bid to help them mature into unicorn enterprises.

Start-ups at the new camp will receive support in a huge range of areas, from preferential policies and legal advice to financial and technological support.

According to Ge Peijian, general manager of Zhangjiang High Tech Park, Zhangjiang's efforts to nurture unicorn enterprises are expected to contribute to Shanghai's goal of becoming a scientific and technological innovation center with global influence.

Zhangjiang already has an impressive record of incubating successful businesses. As of the end of August, the park has invested 4 billion yuan ($607 million) in 105 tech start-ups in fields including integrated circuits, information technology and biomedical equipment.

Of these 105 start-ups, 28 of them have gone on to become listed companies, with a further 11 planning to launch IPOs in the near future.

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Zhangjiang companies at CSITF 2017A number of the latest advanced technologies and products displayed by Zhangjiang companies at the recent China (Shanghai) International Technology Fair held last month attracted public attention.