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Lacking info sharing system, losing bonuses
By Yang Cheng (China Business Weekly)
Updated: 2004-08-16 15:35

A recent acquisition in Zhongguancun has aroused wide interest.

Vital Images, a US-based NASDAQ-listed company, paid US$18 million to buy HInnovation Inc, a small and medium-sized high-tech enterprise in Zhongguancun Science Park in northwest Beijing.

HInnovation was established by Hu Hui, a returned overseas student, in 2002, with a registered capital US$150,000.

Within two years, the high-tech company's market value increased by 120 times.

What attracted Vital Images was the potential market value of HInnovation's advanced software solutions that allow physicians to use personal computers to access two-dimensional and three-dimensional medical imaging applications securely over the Internet.

Information platform urged

Vital Images will introduce the software solutions to 1,500 hospitals around the world, which is expected to bring annual sales profits of US$180 million.

Vital Images will also benefit from an annual bonus of 25 per cent from the application and service fees of the technology.

Li Jianguang, China representative of US-based International Data Group (IDG), said: "I regretted that we did not know about earlier."

Xia Yingqi, deputy director of the Zhongguancun Science Park, said he felt regretful that such advanced technology was bought by a foreign-listed company.

Hu and his partners once wanted to sell their solutions at the price of 50,000 yuan (US$6,045) to hospitals, but no one offered to buy it. Also they showcased their technology to many domestic investors, but nobody responded.

"It leaves us much to think about China's information flow and information sharing platform for small and medium-sized high-tech enterprises," said Xiong Yan, president of China Beijing Equity Exchange.

Other experts shared the same opinion.

"Many investment platforms for listed companies are in foreign countries rather in China, which is the greatest regret for domestic financing institutions,"said Wang Chaoyong, president of the China Equity Group Inc, a company engaged in domestic venture capital sector.

Many domestic venture capital companies are striving to seek diversified commercial opportunities, but some of them only send relatively inexperienced staff to collect information about new projects.

This leads to the loss of golden commercial opportunities and bottlenecks in the growth of small and medium-sized high-tech enterprises.

Efficient information flow as well as more professional and strategic high-tech agents are the key to a better investment climate, said Shi Dinghuan, secretary-general of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Financing bottleneck

Experts urge to improve the financing environment for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

It is estimated the number of SMEs in China has reached 8.32 million, accounting for 99 per cent of registered enterprises.

However, the current information and financing channels for them cannot keep up with their development, experts said.

According to a recent report from the People's Bank of China (PBOC), investment in the SMEs keeps growing rapidly, but from undiversified sources, which hinders further development.

A recent survey on 2,700 SMEs in Shanghai showed that 68 per cent of the enterprises have difficulty in financing and 47 per cent of bankruptcies are due to lack of money.

The PBOC report also shows that most of the financing channels of the SMEs are from bank loans.

However, in foreign countries, well- developed and diversified channels in capital market including initiative public offering, stake and debt financing, the securities board for start-ups greatly help SMEs.

At present, China is making some improvements in the sector.

Shi said the China Development Bank is expected to allocate some billions of yuan to support SMEs.

Earlier this month, the Guangdong Development Bank started to promote a tailored finance support product to SMEs in 10 cities on a trial basis.

The nation's second board in Shenzhen, launched this May, is also striving to help SMEs enhance their strength.

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