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China Fund wants to involve technology scientists more in entrepreneurship

China Fund wants to involve technology scientists more in entrepreneurship
China Fund wants to involve technology scientists more in entrepreneurship

Venture capital, which has been a reliable source of new investment in China for years, is under pressure amid slowing economic growth and tensions between Washington and Beijing. At the same time, however, global competition is raging in technology areas often funded by venture capitalists, such as artificial intelligence.

A new fund in China is taking a creative approach to getting tech-savvy scientists more involved in entrepreneurship by recruiting them as early-stage investors. The fund, known as the iCANX Fund, brings together InnoLink, a Beijing-based investment firm, and Haixia (Alice) Zhang, a professor of integrated circuits at China’s prestigious Peking University, as general partners. Zhang is also the founder of the iCANX Association and the International Contest of Innovation (iCAN), which annually attracts 20,000 participants from more than 20 countries. So far, the new fund has raised about 50 million yuan, or US$100 million, from about 15 scientists.

Scientists are on the cutting edge of technology but tend to focus on abstract ideas, Wang Tianmao, dean of the Zhongguancun Zhiyou Research Institute, said at a press conference on June 26, according to a fund press release. They need to “step out of the lab and explore a new journey of high-tech entrepreneurship,” said Wang, who is a member of the fund’s investment committee and also honorary director of the Robotics Institute at Beihang University in Beijing. “To enable faster applications, they will benefit from getting closer to investment decisions,” he said.

“Sometimes we need to seek the truth and act based on beliefs rather than waiting until all issues are clearly thought through before acting,” Wang said.

The efforts come amid expectations that the changes brought about by AI will shake up global economic competitiveness. Last week, the World Artificial Intelligence Conference was held in China’s commercial capital Shanghai to shed light on the future prospects. Speakers included Baidu CEO Robin Li.

China, which benefited from the performance of social media and healthcare companies, had 16 members on the 2024 Forbes Midas list, one more than last year. However, the country lost the top spot and two investors dropped out of the top 10.

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