World / US and Canada

Innovators, investors connect

By MAY ZHOU in Houston ( Updated: 2016-05-18 11:34

The leader of a Houston innovation group wants to build a high-level platform of communication and collaboration between the US and China.

Bernard Harris, chairman of the US China Innovation Alliance (UCIA), said on Tuesday that he also wants to help venture capitalists, accelerators and incubators from both countries to work together through the US China Innovation and Investment Summit.

"Most of us involved in innovation and technology know that the East Coast and West Coast in the US are well recognized," Harris said.

"This conference highlights what I call the third coast: the Gulf Coast. There are a lot of innovations in medicine, IT and aerospace. Houston is ripe for investors to come to take a look," he said.

Chinese investors got a close look at various US projects at the first USCIIS in Houston on Monday and Tuesday. About 400 people, including 150 from China, attended the event.

The summit, hosted by UCIA, the China Science and Technology Exchange Center and International Technology Transfer Network, was supported by more than 30 organizations, including the Houston Technology Center and Texas Medical Center.

Harris said that the UCIA intends to make the summit an annual event. It also plans in the next year to do road shows in China highlighting US companies and to host an international business plan competition.

Jin Xiaoming, director general at China's Ministry of Science and Technology, told the conference that the Chinese government has put innovation at the core of the country's development. The government is promoting innovation with policy as well as funding.

"In 2015, the Chinese R&D fund accounts for 2.1 percent of GDP. China ranks No 2 after the US in the world on R&D spending," Jin said.

Chinese Consul General Li Qiangmin said this summit rightly answers the needs of both Chinese and US enterprises.

"Trade and investment between China and the US have grown rapidly in recent years, and a high level and reliable innovation and investment matchmaking platform was much needed," Li said.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner encouraged the Chinese investors to invest more in the city.

"We are always looking for partners. The relationship between Houston and China has been a very good one, but there is a lot of room for additional growth," said Turner.

According to Julie Dai, one of the conference organizers, the summit pre-matched 100 US projects to Chinese companies and investors. During the conference, about 50 US innovative projects were presented to the Chinese delegates during tours to Texas Medical Center and Houston Technology Center as well as during B2B sessions.

Experts from both China and US discussed newest technologies in healthcare, energy and telecommunications, and shared their challenges and successes in cross-border innovation and investment.

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Freya Preimesberger in Houston contributed to this story.

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