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Innovative startups benefit from ties

By REN QI | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-08 07:08
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A smooth relationship with Chinese academics and good diplomatic ties have helped Russian technology startups access professional consultation services and cooperation and expand their market share in China.

Russia and China link up at the annual Open Innovation Forum in Moscow each year to boost the development of Skolkovo Ventures, an investment offshoot of the Skolkovo mega tech project, Russia's version of Silicon Valley, on the outskirts of the city.

Capital and innovation connections between China and Russia have been growing. Skolkovo has opened a Beijing office, formed partnerships with several leading Chinese science parks such as Tsinghua Science Park, and worked with numerous Chinese companies including Alibaba on innovation initiatives.

More collaboration will surely be on the cards, as only about 1.5 percent of Russian venture capital comes from China, according to figures cited by Oleg Remyga, China representative for the Moscow School of Management.

Cashoff is one Russian financial startup that has expanded in the Chinese market. The company offers an app for consumers to earn cash back after purchases, and provides big data services about consumers' shopping habits to its retailer customers.

Established in 2013, the company has attracted 2 million business-to-consumer users worldwide and over 40 business-to-business customers.
It opened its first Asian office in Hong Kong seven months ago.

Cashoff CEO Dmitry Gorkov said the Chinese market has always been attractive for Russian high-tech and financial companies due to the good bilateral relations between the two countries.

He said the frequent visits by the leaders of the two countries to each other and the upgrading of the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia gives his company more policy advantages to run the business in China.

"Our Hong Kong office is just a start, and in the near future we plan to stage more promotion in the mainland, and introduce our products to more Chinese people," Gorkov said.

He has discussed the business environment in China with some Chinese students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong Business School at a conference in Moscow.

The students had deep communication with Cashoff's management team about their understanding of the Chinese high-tech market and financial situation, Gorkov said, and gave him a great deal of advice about expanding his business in China.

Vasily Belov, senior vice-president of innovation development for the Skolkovo Foundation, sees a bright future in Sino-Russian high-tech cooperation.

He said the foundation could extend bilateral cooperation from energy to high-tech sectors, and both sides needed to boost student exchanges or even set up a joint university.

Simon Lee, a senior lecturer in the school of accountancy at CUHK Business School, said more Russian high-tech companies have entered China's financial market.

"As of right now, the two countries are pushing the coordination between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, and due to some policy advantages, such as tax incentives, Russian high-tech ventures will have more potential after entering China," Lee said.

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