In recent times, Chinese innovative technical developments have attracted admirers around the globe. How are Chinese businesses able to innovative at such a high speed? And what strategies do Chinese businesses follow for continuous technical developments?
Bessie Lee, founder and CEO of Withinlink, shares her insights on the innovative technical landscape in China.
Lee has worked for more than 29 years in the media communications industry in Greater China. Her company, Withinlink, is a China-based investor and a start-up incubator specializing in marketing technology for communication, media and advertising industries in China.
Talking about how China embraced the “trial and error” spirit to kickstart its innovative journey 40 years ago, Lee shared her views about the growth of the Chinese economy over the years. Chinese government innovative policies and societal changes have proven to be catalysts for innovation speed in various fields such as technology, retail, infrastructure and social media.
“It is important to allow businesses to explore different options, take risks, accept failures as learnings and keep moving forward.”
– Bessie Lee
The Chinese government has always implemented policies which geared its economy towards growth by creating innovative solutions. China has become the second largest economy in the world in only 30 years and has already managed to lift 500 million people out of poverty, as per WHO standards with 200 million still to go by 2030.
“The nation has provided economy of scale, labour and longer product life cycle for the commercial sector,'' Lee says.
The technology sector in China has witnessed the fastest growth over the decades.
The country has already moved on from “pay by phone” to “pay via face” solutions and is also working on use cases based on AI technology.
According to joint research done by the World Bank and China’s state council of development research centre, China has many advantages to stay innovative as compared to its counterparts in the west such as - spending urban middle class, pro-entrepreneurial environment, rising service sector, high R&D spending, wide range of manufacturing skill set, large science and engineering talent pool.
“Innovation is more than just a slogan in China, it’s a verb,” Lee says.
How can Norwegian and Chinese businesses learn from each other?
China, even being a massive country with more than 1.4 billion people, has managed to catch up with the latest technology trends to create a commercially friendly environment so that all the new technologies are successfully deployed and embraced by the consumers.
“But how do you rise to become a high-income country in a very short amount of time with only five million people. There must be so many things that Norway is doing right and China can learn from it,” Lee says.
"China can try to implement Norway’s methods of technology deployment and innovation speed at the city or province level, as many cities in China have the same population as Norway", Lee suggests.
She also discuss the effect of social media on innovation speed around the world using WeChat example.
“I think WeChat story is fascinating as they are still ahead in their vision when compared to other social media platforms like Facebook. A lot of social media platforms in the world are trying to study what Tencent has done with WeChat.”
WeChat started off as an instant messaging social media but now they have evolved into a super app that bundles the everyday needs of the users.
“The mentality of trying out new things has always influenced innovation speed.” – Bessie Lee
New entrepreneurs should consider China’s journey as a case study and learn from its "trial and error"-spirit which has guided China for last so many years, Lee says. Many countries or businesses are still not willing to take that kind of risk. It is important to take risks in order to establish a business in this continuously changing technical landscape.
“Launch an idea even if it is 70% complete, don’t wait to reach 100%. Use consumers’ feedback to innovate further. If you wait to be at 100%, you will become outdated and your consumers would have already moved on to the next best solution.”
Tune in to the Future Forecast episode where Bessie Lee goes more in-depth on the secrets behind China's speed of innovation:
Want to hear more from Bessie Lee? Click here to watch her presentation at Oslo Business Forum.