25 February, 2019, the “2nd Innovation Fair and Conference: Baden-Württemberg Minister Delegation Visit” took place yesterday at the Fairmont Hotel in Nanjing. Over 100 delegates from Germany’s southern state, Baden-Württemberg, visited Nanjing as the first stop of their China tour after which they went on to Hangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
As a Jiangsu sister state, Baden-Württemberg delegates were invited to take part in the innovation fair organised by Nanjing Stuttgart Joint Exhibition Ltd. (Messe Nanjing), in cooperation with the European Chamber of Commerce in China Nanjing Chapter. The matchmaking event was intended to promote free and open exchange, in the form of networking for local high tech and automotive businesses with German delegates.
Deputy Secretary of the Party Working Committee of Bowang Ma’anshan High Tech Zone, Zhu Yunting, told The Nanjinger, “We look forward to the cooperation between Ma’anshan Innovation Park and businesses from Baden-Württemberg German; we look forward to finding partnerships here”.
Due to the fact that Baden-Württemberg is home to fast cars and heavy industry, it is important that the Minister of Economic Affairs has come to China. The minister delegation was made up of government, research institutes, associations, enterprises, financial institutions, consulting companies and the media. After arriving at the event, an opening speech was made by the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing, Ms. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut.
Given that the event was structured around matchmaking, the floor was divided into four “pitch making” areas; Echo Tech and Energy, New Energy Vehicles, Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Manufacturing, whereby participants warmly mingled with each other and listened to those giving pitches.
“Today was a very big challenge, it’s the first time we’ve done this at such a large scale, it requires a lot of fine tuning. But it seems to be working nicely, and we’re getting good vibes from the visitors and participants”, Director of Innovation Fair, Oscar Prat van Thiel, told The Nanjinger.
“The most important thing about Innovation Fair is that it’s a wonderful cooperation between Messe Nanjing and the European Chamber of Commerce [in China] (EUCCC). That’s how it all started out. We had our first innovation fair last year in May. It was a test in terms of innovative ways of doing exhibitions and conferences. We tried a new format that composed of a large prominent exhibition and conference and then divided it into technical sub panels, most importantly, in connection between large companies, their R&Ds (Research and Developments) and startups plus the wider innovation ecosystem”, Prat van Thiel went on.
The initiative started through several larger companies that are part of the EUCCC, and although they have some of the best R&D systems they believe innovation can be faster. Companies are now looking beyond their general ecosystem, in order to see that going on outside, not just in terms of startups and research institutes and universities, but also to see what other industries are doing.
EUCCC Nanjing General Manager, You Haiyan, spoke with The Nanjinger; “This is a great event that helps put local businesses and innovative talent in touch with others in the field. We believe these kinds of networking events are really what’s needed at the moment in the world of innovation. Soon we will have a similar event that will be divided into three parts centred around a conference about trade, ecosystems, policies, business, government practices and innovation matchmaking”.
Innovation Week is touted to be one of Nanjing’s most important technological events. Hosted by local government, participants can look forward to a 4-5 hall event with a dozen high level conferences and an attendance of over 5,000 people.
An event that was originally intended to be a warm up for the next Innovation Fair was included as an endorsement for Nanjing’s approaching Innovation Week, and the cooperation between Baden-Württemberg and Jiangsu. “There’s a lot of cross pollination opportunities available”, Prat van Thiel explained. “For example, the gaming industry could be making innovations that might be applicable to the automotive industry and vice versa. So this is a platform that we’re setting up here.”
Jiangsu began its relationship with Baden-Württemberg in 1994. In 2018 it was reported that Germany had a total of 2,021 investment projects in Jiangsu, contributing to US$250m in actual use of foreign investment. Not only has Jiangsu been investing in Baden-Württemberg by acquiring several high-end German brands, with the establishment of Jiangsu’s many innovative parks and home grown talent, the province is now offering a mature investment market in return.