The Zhejiang Province has a long tradition of entrepreneurship in China. In recent years its capital; the city of Hangzhou has established itself as a hotbed for e-commerce and entrepreneurship, with a strong focus on innovation and new technology. As the country’s richest province with an annual real growth of 8% and the highest disposable income of any province in China, Hangzhou is home to 3.4 times as many successful entrepreneurs as Shanghai. The province’s economic model, now referred to as the “Zhejiang model”, is based on prioritising and encouraging entrepreneurship in China and a long history of private sector lending, with the “Zhejiang spirit” becoming something of a legend. So what makes the city of Hangzhou so entrepreneurial?
Financial investment and incubators to support entrepreneurship in China
According to Medium.com, 51 entrepreneurship incubators throughout Hangzhou support new startups with business training, legal consultation, registration services and tax reductions. The government recently launched “Hangzhou Talent Deal 27” to support aspiring startups with substantial finance support, providing college students and recent graduates with guaranteed loans. This is in a bid to develop entrepreneurship in China in order to provide a more sustainable future away from the country’s reliance on a cheap labor market. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, nearly 25% of the Chinese adult population are entrepreneurs, twice as many as in the U.S.
Birthplace of leading Chinese entrepreneurs like Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba
Hangzhou is the birthplace of successful Chinese startups Alibaba, the Internet-based ecommerce giant, Wahaha, the leader in China’s beverage sector and automotive manufacturing company Geely, who bought out Volvo in 2010. Jack Ma, creator of Alibaba and the 18th richest man in the world now has an estimated net worth of $29.7 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with Alibaba now serving over 79 million members from more than 240 countries.
Alibaba’s headquarters are still based in Hangzhou, now a 150,000m² modern campus that employs over 22,000 people in the region. Ma, along with other successful entrepreneurs from the province continue to support the region’s growing entrepreneurial infrastructure. Ma has recently become the President of a new school for business startups in Hangzhou to share his experience with budding entrepreneurs and offer entrepreneurship education accessible to all, in order to further develop entrepreneurship in China.
Strong education infrastructure to develop entrepreneurship in China
The Zhejiang Province features a rich infrastructure of higher education universities, most notably, Zhejiang University, one of the oldest institutions of university education in China. The University is a member of the C9 league of Elite Universities (the equivalent of the US Ivy League) and is ranked among the top 5 providers of university education in China and within the top 100 in the world.
Zhejiang University’s School of Management is known for its research and business education in entrepreneurship and innovation. The school has a reputation in China for a strong entrepreneurial spirit, with statistics showing that Zhejiang University has the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity in China. According to Medium.com, Zhejiang University’s Science & Technology Park, the school-sponsored business incubator has provided hundreds of students and affiliates with business training, cooperation opportunities and affordable working spaces.
Students of the Global Entrepreneurship Program spend their second semester studying at Zhejiang University, focusing their entrepreneurship studies on family business which dominates this world region, as well as complete an In-Company Business Project for a Chinese organisation to develop their experience in Asian business issues and working culture.
Discover the program syllabus.
Host of world-leading events to promote entrepreneurship in China
The World Entrepreneurship Forum, a world-leading entrepreneurship think tank that brings together a global network of over 250 entrepreneurs, NGO leaders, politicians and experts from 70 countries will host its 8th annual event in Hangzhou in October 2015. Zhejiang University is a partner of the annual event, founded in 2008 by EMLYON Business School and later joined by OnlyLyon, Nanyang Technological University and Action Community for Entrepreneurship. Many leading Chinese entrepreneurs attend the event each year in order to develop the ecosystem of entrepreneurship in China.
Students of the Global Entrepreneurship Program also organised a Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum in Hangzhou during their semester in China in 2014. Zhejiang University welcomed over 300 participants including young entrepreneurs, students and university professors to a pitch competition and were sponsored by Hangzhou Junior Talent Work Station, one of Zhejiang University’s partner incubators. Participants also benefited from networking sessions with investors who came to the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum as they were interested in learning more about these entrepreneurial ventures.
Plus, the 2014-2015 cohort organised Startup Weekend Hangzhou in March 2015, with a team from the Global Entrepreneurship Program taking home first prize with their idea SPORTAKUS!