The 9th China (Guangzhou) Annual Investment Conference and 2023 Forbes China Venture Capital Forum Baiyun District Session Concluded Successfully

April 25 23:16 2023

On April 18, the 9th China (Guangzhou) Annual Investment Conference and 2023 Forbes China Venture Capital Forum Baiyun District Session was held in Pearl River Hall at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Convention Center. With the theme of “Investing in Baiyun District to Win in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area,” the forum brought together guests from renowned companies, including investment and high-tech firms who discussed new trends driving economic growth and technological advancement, as well as new directions for entrepreneurship and investment.

Hosted by the Guangzhou municipal government, the event started with a plenary session in the morning attended by Guangzhou Municipal Party Committee Secretary Lin Keqing, Guangzhou Municipal People’s Congress Standing Committee Director Wang Yanshi, and Guangzhou Municipal Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairman Li Yiwei. Guangzhou Mayor and Municipal Party Committee Deputy Secretary Guo Yonghang delivered a keynote speech, with Vice Mayor Jiang Zhitao serving as moderator. Other participants included senior executives from Forbes China Group alongside a roster of top management executives from leading multinational firms and investment companies. 

“Guangzhou, an important international trade center and a comprehensive transportation hub in China, has incorporated openness and international cooperation into its DNA. Of note, the two elements have become the main drivers of the sustainable growth of the city,” said Zhang Qinglian, president of Forbes China Group, in his speech. “As one of the most vibrant and forward-thinking cities in China, Guangzhou has also taken the lead in the country in enticing investment. Given this scenario, Forbes China Group, an international company that integrates media and communities, is proud to co-organize the 2023 Forbes China Venture Capital Forum with the Guangzhou Municipal Commerce Bureau at which we discussed new directions for entrepreneurship and investment with representatives from all walks of life.”

Forbes China Group President Zhang Qinglian

During the event, Forbes China Managing Editor Chen Fengfeng elaborated on the 2022 Forbes China Venture Capitalist 100 list. “Forbes China has released the list for the 16th consecutive year,” stated Ms. Chen. “With a focus on investment companies that bet on startups at an early stage as well as entrepreneurs who are willing to take the plunge, the list aims to identify and recognize outstanding investors who participate in Series A or angel financing of startups. When looking at IPOs in the mainland Chinese and Hong Kong stock markets, Forbes China also found that Guangzhou was home to an additional 20 companies that went public in 2022, serving as a clear demonstration of the city’s appeal to entrepreneurs.”

Forbes China Managing Editor Chen Fengfeng

The Chinese market is continuously opening up expansive opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship. “The market is enormous with appeal to both international brands and domestic innovative firms invested by Qiming Venture Partners,” explained Duane Kuang, Founding Managing Partner at Qiming Venture Partners. “Made-in-China products (including consumer goods and emerging high-tech products) and services have been favorably received by consumers in emerging markets, most notably in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. As a result, to leverage the unprecedented opportunities presented by the market, an increasing number of investors are investing in and helping China-based companies expand globally and export products to international markets. In addition, technological advancement continues to open up new investment opportunities while creating new investment areas and consumer scenarios. Generative artificial intelligence (AI), for example, received widespread attention as soon as it emerged, marking our entry into the next stage of the technological revolution. With a strong entrepreneurial spirit which is especially important for the venture capital sector, Chinese entrepreneurs are working hard to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams while, at the same time, benefiting the wider society.”

Qiming Venture Partners Founding Managing Partner Duane Kuang

The event formally kicked off in the afternoon following the plenary session.

“In line with Guangzhou’s quality-driven development strategy, Baiyun District has been working to build four major hubs over the past few years by rezoning into one park, two towns, three larger administrative areas and four smaller administrative ones. To date, several major projects have been completed in the district, including Guangzhou Private Science and Technology Park, Baiyun New Town, Baiyun Lake Digital Sci-Tech City, along with six 100 billion-yuan and six 10 billion-yuan modern industry clusters collectively worth over 55 billion yuan. At the same time, as one of the most vibrant and promising districts in Guangzhou, Baiyun District has also created a premium business-friendly urban zone to help the district’s established firms grow stronger. Currently, the district is the second largest in the city in terms of the number of market entities (over 530,000) and the third largest when counting the number of large-scale companies (5,000).” He then extended a heart-felt invitation to entrepreneurs to invest in Baiyun District so as to leverage the new opportunities presented by the city’s quality-focused strategy, with the aim of adding momentum to the Chinese path to modernization.”

Baiyun District Governor Pan Zhijun

The event also witnessed the inauguration and signing ceremony of the Guangzhou Baiyun District Industrial Investment Promotion Association.

The inauguration ceremony of the Guangzhou Baiyun District Industrial Investment Promotion Association

The ceremony was followed by speeches that several guests delivered on multiple topics, including digital transformation, green, low-carbon strategies and innovation in healthcare. Dan Brindle, President of Novartis Group (China), pointed out that the company is excited by the opportunity to participate in and witness the development of the Chinese healthcare Industry, as the country is the world’s second largest and fastest growing pharmaceutical market. He stressed that Novartis plans to widen the scope of its R&D of drugs for major diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, in an effort to reduce social and healthcare costs in addition to benefiting Chinese patients by expanding access to essential medicines.

Novartis Group (China) President Dan Brindle

Roundtable sessions took place following the presentations. Presided by Forbes China Executive Editor Li Zhaoqi, the first roundtable discussion themed “The Explosion of Generative AI Singularity” was attended by a number of high-level executives, among them Alpha Startup Fund Founding Partner Richard Xu, Shunwei Capital Partner Cheng Tian, Cloudwalk Co-Founder Yao Zhiqiang, and iFLYTEK South China AI Research Institute Executive Director Zhou Guohua.

Roundtable Discussion: The Explosion of Generative AI Singularity

“With the explosion of the generative AI (AIGC) singularity, China’s AI application market is on track to open up three highly interesting investment opportunities: developing large language models, an area that has to date proven quite challenging; developing premium products domestically and then exporting these products out of China; and creating innovative applications through a combination of foundation models with vertical applications,” indicated Alpha Startup Fund Founding Partner Richard Xu. He suggested that Chinese investors should identify products that can embed the latest AI technologies into enterprise-grade and lifestyle applications.

Alpha Startup Fund Founding Partner Richard Xu

“Driven by the new wave of AI innovation, the AI sector has truly exploded compared to a decade ago, with this latest breakthrough that has been achieved in automated text generation,” stated Shunwei Capital Partner Cheng Tian. “This trend presents an unprecedented opportunity for enhancing productivity and is expected to have a profound impact on the way we work, the next stage of industry development, organizational structures for companies and, by extension, the greater society in general.”

Shunwei Capital Partner Cheng Tian

Cloudwalk Co-Founder Yao Zhiqiang said, with AI disrupting the world, every company has to reposition and launch innovative offerings in areas where they excel. He offered that the world must still be guided by humans, everyone must face up to the fact that we will be working in an environment characterized by digital transformation of the physical world, knowledge push and execution by intelligent tools.

Cloudwalk Co-Founder Yao Zhiqiang

“AI will change the way in which content is generated and distributed while facilitating the further iteration of human-computer interaction, driving the next stage of growth of the Internet of Everything,” explained iFLYTEK South China AI Research Institute Executive Director Zhou Guohua. “AI is also accelerating the development of AI for Science by advancing scientific research and by making educational and medical resources more accessible.”

iFLYTEK South China AI Research Institute Executive Director Zhou Guohua

Moderated by Forbes China Managing Editor Ms. Chen, the second roundtable discussion themed “New Trillion-yuan Opportunities Presented by Key and Core Technologies” was attended by Lenovo Group Vice President and Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group Partner Wang Guangxi, Vertex Ventures Managing Partner Xia Zhijin, Lightspeed China Partners Partner Cai Wei and Ondine Capital Founder Xu Lejia.

Roundtable Discussion: New Trillion-yuan Opportunities Presented by Key and Core Technologies

“Smart manufacturing, a segment of the market for key and core technologies, is on track to facilitate growth in the computing and renewable energy sectors over the next decade and beyond,” indicated Lenovo Group Vice President Wang Guangxi. “On one hand, the continuous evolution of artificial intelligence in manufacturing requires a large amount of computing power to support it; on the other hand, sustainable energy sources such as photovoltaics, lithium batteries, hydrogen energy, and nuclear power are essentially produced through manufacturing methods, so intelligent manufacturing has considerable investment value.”

Lenovo Group Vice President and Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group Partner Wang Guangxi

“The market for key and core technologies needs investors who can design visionary and pragmatic investment strategies,” stated Vertex Ventures Managing Partner Xia Zhijin. “With the continuous rise in labor costs following our entry into the next stage of economic growth, companies in all sectors are required to reduce costs and increase efficiency through innovations in technology, including robotics and automation.” He added that he plans to keep a close watch on this major trend.

Vertex Ventures Managing Partner Xia Zhijin

Lightspeed China Partners Partner Cai Wei shared his own investment experience, pointing out that the trillion-yuan opportunities couldn’t have occurred without three conditions: a dramatic change to market demand; a strong industry chain that can support the demand, and new technologies that can be integrated into the process. Furthermore, he suggested that huge potential and promising prospects are foreseen for the energy storage market.

Lightspeed China Partners Partner Cai Wei

Ondine Capital Founder Xu Lejia said he focuses more on the common needs across various verticals for semiconductors (Both the AI and energy storage markets, for example, require chips) and new materials. “As resources are increasingly directed towards key and core technologies, the segment is receiving a lot of attention while, at the same time, attracting a growing number of talented individuals, presenting attractive investment opportunities,” he added.

Ondine Capital Founder Xu Lejia

Chaired by ATLATL Executive President and Dart Points Life Sciences Fund Partner Zhou Kai, the third roundtable discussion themed “New Growth Engines of the Biopharmaceutical Industry” was attended by C-Bridge Capital Co-Founder, Growth Fund Head and Managing Director Jiang Mengjiao, Roche Accelerator China Head Dr. Tang Qiusong and FreeS Fund Partner Rui Ma.

Roundtable Discussion: New Growth Engines of the Biopharmaceutical Industry

ATLATL Executive President Zhou Kai pointed out that, through the engagement in research and development, the industry gradually came to the realization that, not only does the life science industry have great innovation opportunities, but the innovation process itself can be leveraged. The forum focused on the key aspects of the new round of innovation in industry and important elements that need to be reshaped in the innovation process. The discussion invited top executives from VC firms and multinational pharmaceutical companies who engaged in a series of discussions with the participation of pioneering innovation platform ATLATL.

Jiang Mengjiao made the point that the Chinese biopharmaceuticals sector is well-positioned for innovation thanks to its complete industry chain and access to all the needed resources, including capital, talent, basic research, clinical studies and contract research organizations (CROs). “Nevertheless, unlike imitation, innovation does not guarantee success. As a result, it is necessary for investors to take a comprehensive approach to analyzing risks associated with general partners, portfolios and pipelines so as to avoid a zero-sum situation,” she added.

C-Bridge Capital Co-Founder, Growth Fund Head and Managing Director Jiang Mengjiao

“Multinational pharmaceutical companies have supported Chinese startups by giving them the headroom to focus on disruptive innovation and clinical validation by providing them with the infrastructure, capital and services they need,” said Roche Accelerator China Head Tang Qiusong. “Innovation may fail but it’s a very rewarding investment if it proves successful. With the help of accelerators, Chinese startups can continue their commitment to innovation so as to make a positive change to the world.”

Roche Accelerator China Head Dr. Tang Qiusong

“In terms of driving innovation, Chinese companies can learn from their US peers rather than simply copying their strategies,” noted FreeS Fund Partner Rui Ma. “In the US, pipelines are often expanded along with Products, while in China, it is more important to accumulate experience in technology rather than simply focusing on expanding pipelines. Chinese startups that lack experience in technology require significant financial support and cannot create a successful business simply by increasing pipelines.”

FreeS Fund Partner Rui Ma

The forum ended with the conclusion of the three roundtable discussions. Nevertheless, the views and insights the participants shared at the event are bound to continue inspiring new ideas. In addition to offering a key opportunity for investors worldwide to understand both the Greater Bay Area and Guangzhou, the annual investment conference has become an important platform through which Guangzhou continues to embrace openness, expose new opportunities to the world, and work with global business leaders towards shared goals. As part of the 9th Guangzhou Annual Investment Conference, the forum not only provided a communication and demonstration platform for investors and innovative companies, but also laid a solid foundation for Guangzhou to further improve its business environment and advance industrial transformation.

This year marks the 20th year since Forbes first established a presence in China. Over the past two decades, Forbes China, remaining faithful to its vision of “Roots in China, Connecting with the World” and its ongoing commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation, has been contributing to China’s economic and social development by upholding the pursuit of professionalism, impartiality, innovation and progressiveness. Forbes China Group looks forward to continuing its work in concert with top management executives across a wide range of sectors, with the aim of helping the economies of Guangzhou province and, by extension, the whole of China, be transformed into ones driven by quality development.

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