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China-UK tech corridor is bustling

By Russ Shaw | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-12-06 09:27

With all the political uncertainty around the world, whether in the Brexit-dominated UK or amid China-US trade tensions, politicians are forgetting the importance of collaboration. This is entirely at odds with the global technology industry, which values the transfer of knowledge, talent and funding across borders.

UK tech leaders, and the private sector more broadly, are driving internationalization forward in a way that many government leaders are neglecting.

On Oct 15, the Global Tech Advocates Festival was launched in Shanghai. The summit convened global tech leaders to learn more about the Chinese tech ecosystem and to work together for the betterment of the industry. The visit was another reminder of the vast opportunities for China-UK tech relations.

But if we want to cling to these opportunities, we must look past the geopolitical noise that could hamper the momentum and ensure that Britain remains an attractive destination for Chinese investment. For this, we must plan strategically and position ourselves in a way that ensures both sides will be winners.

First, we must overcome barriers: For many UK entrepreneurs, the Chinese tech ecosystem remains unknown, and vice versa. China remains a complex market to enter with an unfamiliar business model and regulatory landscape for the British entrepreneurs.

Yet there's an opportunity for British entrepreneurs to learn from their Chinese counterparts, though these challenges won't disappear overnight. If the UK wants to overcome them, it must create resources that help businesses understand the Chinese market, its culture and its legislation to build the necessary foundations for successful business trade relations.

Second, we must build on existing momentum. The political context may be accelerating collaboration-the China-UK tech corridor has never been more active-but we cannot rely on this to sustain relations. Globally, China has spent the most on technology, reaching investment of around $234 billion, expected to rise to $844 billion by 2020. And with the escalation of the China-US trade war, we're witnessing a rising opportunity for the UK, as Chinese investors veer from Silicon Valley, targeting burgeoning tech clusters in Europe instead, particularly the UK.

This year alone, the UK has witnessed an influx in Chinese investment-with Chinese investment now accounting for over 10 percent of total foreign direct investment into London.

Finally, we must celebrate collaboration: The tech industry is the most collaborative in the world. An increase in collaboration, whether an exchange of talent, knowledge or capital, can only lead to an increase in mutually beneficial opportunities.

The UK has an abundance of exceptional talent from across the globe. An incredible wealth of creativity and a progressive regulatory system provide the foundation for its burgeoning tech ecosystem.

Meanwhile, in China, there's an almost fathomless amount of capital and scalability that excites the UK entrepreneur. The country is also a pioneer in artificial intelligence and cyber and financial tech, which are also expanding rapidly in the UK.

During my time in China, it was clear that Chinese tech leaders were open for business with the British. Cementing and expanding the China-UK tech corridor, just when our politicians are unable to provide direction, is crucial for an industry that will have a big role to play in sustaining both countries' economies in the coming years.

The author is the founder of Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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