China / Education

Huazhong students ride innovation wave

By Zhao Xinying (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-28 08:20

University provides rich environment of support for brilliant business ideas

Twenty-four-year-old Chen Hao has just set up his own company, with the headquarters located at his alma mater, Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hubei province, which has fostered a lot of students' entrepreneurial ideas and programs.

Now, with more than 5 million users of his mobile phone app in China, Chen believes his dream of business success will finally come true.

Many of his predecessors and alumni have set good examples for him on campus, he said.

At least 11 well-known entrepreneurs in the Internet arena, including Yao Xin, the founder of PPLive, a leading online video software in China, and Zhang Xiaolong, "the father WeChat", a major social networking app, came from Huazhong University.

Such people helped the university, known for its prestigious science and technology education, burnish its reputation for generating talent for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Guo Xingpeng, director of the university's academic affairs division, said it encouraged those two things on campus long before a national campaign for innovation and entrepreneurship among university students was initiated by the government.

"We first launched a special fund to support students' innovative activities in the late 1980s," Guo said. "After that, we opened about 10 courses on innovation and entrepreneurship, including the basic theory of starting a business. In 2005, a committee for guiding students' entrepreneurship was set up at our university."

According to Guo, 70 percent of the students have received or are receiving training on innovation and entrepreneurship, as almost all the schools at the university have established a foundation of such courses.

Now the university has 24 university-level programs, Guo added.

Among those, the DianGroup stands out. Set up in 2002, the group focuses on providing students with guidance and opportunities to practice their skills by taking part in innovation and entrepreneurship projects.

More than 500 students have joined the group in the past 13 years. Among them, about 50 started more than 30 businesses, and two were listed on the Forbes China 30 Under 30 (30 entrepreneurs that are under 30 years old).

"At DianGroup, we try our best to support students' entrepreneurial ideas in aspects such as venues, equipment and human resources - although we don't have much money to offer financial support," said Liu Yu, founder of group, who is also a professor in the university's School of Electronic Information and Communication.

To help students' entrepreneurial ideas emerge and get financial support, the group has successfully bridged several entrepreneurial teams with investors. As a result, Liu acquired a unique title: "Dating agent for entrepreneurship".

Zhong Guohui, CEO of DianGroup, said the group is in fact providing an experiential education on entrepreneurship.

"At DianGroup, students can acquire techniques, set up connections with others and have the primary experience of starting up a business. This will form a good basis for them to run a successful business if they choose to do so after graduation," Zhong said.

Apart from entrepreneurship education, the university also provides some financial support to encourage students to be engaged in innovation and entrepreneurship.

"Each year, the university spends 50 million yuan ($7.7 million) to support students' innovation and entrepreneurship, almost half of which is donated by alumni," Guo said.

Alumni entrepreneurs also play a key role in creating a good environment and atmosphere for innovation and entrepreneurship, he said.

"Many often come to the university to lecture; some work as part-time mentors to guide students in these areas; and some set up enterprises, innovation bases and workshops where students can take part in the projects and receive training," Guo said.

The university is also planning the construction of a 200,000-square-meter innovation building to provide venues and integrated resources for students to realize their entrepreneurial ideas.

"In the past, many ideas and programs came out of our students' dormitories," Guo said. "We hope they can get better spaces, as well as services and support to incubate their ideas and programs."

List of HUST's entrepreneurial programs

Inmotion Technologies Co

It's a high-tech enterprise located in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, that specializes in the research and development of sensor-controlled vehicles. CEO Zhou Wei was born in 1986 and graduated from Huazhong University of Science and Technology with a master's degree in machine design and building. Zhou was champion of the 2007 RoboCup China competition, an annual international robotics competition. He has focused on his business, developing products that make life "efficient and intelligent". It is now worth hundreds of millions of yuan.

Husor Ecommerce Co

A leading website in China that provides shopping information on off-price goods for young women. Co-founder and CEO Zhang Lianglun graduated from the School of Electronic Information and Communication of HUST in 2009. He was nominated by Forbes China as one of the "30 Under 30" (30 entrepreneurs under 30 years old) in 2013.

Orange Bro and his Internet Plus orange

Wang Liping graduated from the HUST School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 2014. He gained the affectionate nickname of "Orange Bro" on campus because since 2011 he has taken advantage of the Internet to greatly improve the sales of oranges in his hometown in Jiangxi province, which grows very good oranges but had poor sales because of a lack of marketing.


A mobile phone app developed by a team led by Guo Lie, a student born in 1989. Guo graduated from the HUST School of Mechanical Science & Engineering in 2011. MYOTee is an app through which everyone can draw an interesting self-portrait with simple tools and skills. People can use the self-portrait on their social networking sites. The app went viral among mobile phone users and received A-round financing of tens of millions of yuan after it was released in June 2014.


A mobile phone app developed in early 2014 by a group of HUST students. It enables couples separated in different places to note meaningful moments, events and anniversaries in their relationship. The app has gained popularity among couples for helping to maintain distant love. Before launching the app, the group of HUST students set up a company near their alma mater. The company has obtained at least two rounds of financing so far.

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