Young Leaders to China: Innovation and Entrepreneurship

35 young entrepreneurs from Australia and the US engage with China’s exciting innovation culture.

On July 2 to 15, the Confucius Institute launched the first ever “Young Leaders to China—Innovation and Entrepreneurship” program, a tour taking 35 young entrepreneurs and start-up founders to China. Participants were nominated by two Confucius Institutes in Australia and three in the US, bringing together a diverse and talented group of individuals with entrepreneurial aspirations.

The Confucius Institute at UNSW received overwhelming interest in the program, reflecting the growing enthusiasm to engage with Chinese markets and the country’s rapidly expanding innovation space.  With over 90 applications submitted, the panel identified the 9 strongest candidates to participate in the program. They joined 26 other young entrepreneurs from across Australia and the US on the two-week trip which took them to Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing. A range of sectors were represented in the group’s start-ups including education, culture, commerce, internet +, science and technology.

Organised in collaboration with Confucius Institute Headquarters, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Hangzhou Normal University, and the University of International Business and Economics (Beijing), participants in the tour had the opportunity to learn from experts in Chinese commerce and meet directly with Chinese entrepreneurs and investors. They visited China’s leading tech companies, venture capital firms and incubators, as well as e-commerce giant Alibaba Headquarters and China’s Silicon Valley, Zhongguancun. Over the two weeks, the group gained insight into topics such as cross-cultural consumer behaviour, the start-up ecosystem in China, and challenges in entrepreneurship.

While in Shanghai, members of the group also participated in the Think Youth Digital Creation, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Contest, hosted by the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission and organised by the USC-SJTU Institute of Cultural and Creative Industry (ICCI). Three of the nine start-up founders nominated by the Confucius Institute at UNSW made it into the semi-finals, selected as the competition’s top 10 projects, with Nabeil Allam taking out 4th place with his start-up The Pelvic Expert.


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