What a wonderful festival week! Over 1200 visitors attended our 3 days of networking, panel discussions and showcases.
On the 15th of June alone, we welcomed over 800 audience members, Chinese delegates and experts from academia, the government and the tech industry to share their insights on all things Industry 4.0 aka MedTech, GreenTech, FinTech, Blockchain and AI, in enlightening keynote speeches and inspiring panel discussions! The tech expert panel discussion led by the charismatic C4DR CEO Eric Van der Kleij veered as far as proposing the idea that we might be able to marry a robot in 20 years' time!
Founder of Tech London Advocates Russ Shaw shared in his opening remarks, stating how delighted he was for Cocoon to be a vital part of London Tech Week, which itself had grown immensely since its its launch 6 years ago. The audience enjoyed further warm welcomes from delegates Sunan Jiang (Chinese Embassy), Tony Dong (SEES), Jeff Cao (London & Partners) and Zhenquan Cao (Shanghai Hi-Tech Industrial Parks) before launching into our first session of the day!
We've summarised some of the highlights of the panel discussions, keynotes and announcements below...
Session 1: Investment Opportunities under Industry 4.0 & Made in China 2025
According the our panel discussion, China and Britain offer the ideal platform to collaborate and the demand for talented UK tech startups is high in China, a nation that has wholeheartedly embraced tech and is very keen to foster the newest ideas. Interestingly trade associations for angel investors have long been common practice in China, according to Jenny Tooth OBE (CEO at UK Business Angels Association), which shows China's desire to fund startups with the necessary potential and suitability to succeed in its fast-growing tech market.
Panelists included Dr. Langen Shu (GCL Finance Group Holdings), Shibing Xia (Golden Sunflower Capital Management), Jenny Tooth OBE (UK Business Angels Association) and Puneet Raj Bhatia (Funding London).
left to right: John Zai (CEO Cocoon Networks), Dr. Langen Shu (GM GCL Finance Group Holdings), Jenny Tooth OBE (CEO UK BUsiness Angels Association), Puneet R. Bathia (Fund Manager at Funding London)
Session 2: Innovation in MedTech
Our expert panel discussed how innovations in the MedTech field play a huge role in China's economic restructuring, especially with the China 2025 plan.
The MedTech industry is undoubtedly one of the key sectors expected to be at the forefront of achieving strategic technological breakthroughs in the upcoming years. Great revolutionary potential lies in research and development of devices such as new imaging equipment, medical robots and the field of of biological 3D printing. Due to factors such as an aging population and higher personal consumption, China's national economic strategy will continue to see the MedTech industry thrive, and according to China medical pharmaceutical material association data, China’s medical equipment market has grown rapidly from just RMB14.5 billion in 2004 to RMB255 billion in 2014.
Led by Editor-in-Chief of Medtech Insight Tina Tan, the expert panel of Jingwei Lou (Biotecan Biology), Shibing Xia (Golden Sunflower Capital Management) and Neil White (Medopad) discussed the opportunities in this new market landscape which is expected to continue to grow rapidly, exceeding RMB300 billion this year through the leveraging effect of the ‘Made in China 2025’ plan.
Throughout the festival Cocoon Networks were proud to announce 5 new strategic partnerships, thereby marking new milestones in Sino-British relations and truly global collaboration here at Cocoon Networks. These new partnerships will focus on fostering entrepreneurship and the bringing together of talent and resources on the Sino - British plane and were celebrated via traditionally Chinese unveiling and signing ceremonies:
‘‘Zhangjiang Cocoon London Science & Technology Innovation Park’’ Unveiling Ceremony
Left to right: Weiguo Wang (Chairman of Cocoon Networks), Zhenquan Cao (Executive Vice Chairman of Administration Commission of Shanghai Hi-Tech Industrial Parks), Sunan Jiang (Minister Counsellor for Science and Technology at Chinese Embassy UK), Russ Shaw (Founder of Tech London Advocates)
‘‘Zhangjiang Talent Cultivation and Exchange Platform’’ Unveiling Ceremony
Left to right: Jeff Cao, Head of Asia Pacific at London & Partners; Zhenquan Cao, Executive Vice Chairman of Administration Commission, Shanghai Hi-Tech Industrial Parks
Strategic cooperation agreement between Cocoon Networks and ARM Innovation Ecosystem Accelerator
Cocoon Networks has partnered with Innovation Ecosystem Accelerator ARM.
The ARM Innovation Ecosystem Accelerator has been established to help early stage companies to go to market quickly and pools resources from the world’s biggest tech systems.
By joining forces, ARM Innovation Ecosystem Accelerator and Cocoon Networks hope to create a culture of openness and innovation through mentorship schemes and tailored workshops. A joint project team will focus on aiding highly promising early stage ventures to enter the Chinese market, as well as gain access to vital resources through a highly interconnected ecosystem. Together with ARM we believe that through convening the newest entrepreneurial talent and the key players of Industry 4.0, we can establish the baseline for the best technology and investment transfer possible between the UK and China.
Left to right: John Blythe (Senior Partner at Foster and Partners), Mark Hedley (Director of ICT & E-commerce sector of CBBC), Lady Xuelin Bates (Vice Chairman & Secretary General of UK Chinese Business Association and Chairman of Zhejiang UK Business Association), John Zai (CEO at Cocoon Networks London), Kayu Chen (CEO of EFC)
Cocoon Networks and EFC (Europe America Financial City) launched their G5 World Inno-Venture Networks programme: a global platform to foster startups and enable early investment
The EFC (Euro America Financial City) was originally launched by Jiangong Real Estate Group as a comprehensive development complex claiming a GFA of 100 million sq metres.
Signing Ceremony: Kayu Chen (CEO of EFC) and John Zai (CEO of Cocoon Networks) sign the strategic partnership between GCL Finance (Group) Holdings and Cocoon Networks
Furthermore, Founder and CEO of C4DR and FinTech & Blockchain Advisor to the Department for International Trade, formerly Founder and CEO of Level39 and Tech City Initiatives Eric Van der Kleij granted the 'Global Innovation Centre Reward' to EFC. We celebrated these delightful news during the EFC (Euro America Financial City) Networking Lunch.
Session 3: Industry 4.0 Innovation Landscape and 'Paying for your meal with a surgically implanted chip? No problem!'
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, Professor G. Q. Max Lu, discussed the main tech research foci at the University of Surrey and emphasised how the Industry 4.0 is attracting the best talent from all over the world to innovate, driving this sector.
We then launched straight into the exciting new field of FinTech and Blockchain, a session led by Eric Van der Kleij, CEO of newly launched at innovation hub C4DR here at our Cocoon Networks premises. He firstly shared with us the great idea behind C4DR, which is making the digital revolution more tangible and embracing it in the most beneficial way for our daily lives.
Based within a custom-built hub inside the Cocoon Networks Innovation Centre, C4DR will partner and co-invest with leading corporate organisations looking to build new solutions using 4IR technologies, and invest in promising startups spanning artificial intelligence, internet of things, blockchain and robotics, all within a specialised environment.
Fintech & Blockchain Panel
left to right: Kirk Wilson (Executive Director CBBC), Guido Branca, CEO at BABB, Peter Hoffman (Senior Manager at Swisscom), Genevieve Leveille (Founder & CEO at AgriLedger), and Eric Van der Kleij (CEO at C4DR, Advisor to the Department for International Trade)
Eric, also FinTech and Blockchain Advisor to the Department for International Trade, subsequently led a wonderfully engaging panel on the future and perception of Blockchain and Fintech in China and the UK, whereby the discussion identified demand for Fintech advancements in China as very high and Blockchain being in need of a image makeover. C4DR has officially launched the first test of a surgically implanted chip that will enable a person to pay, use the tube etc. with simply this one chip that stores all data. In the future this might make credit cards and other data storage means totally obsolute.
Eric asked the audience in his keynote who would be willing to join the test persons and have a chip implanted, which elicited slightly nervous laughter but also a few brave hands up, which Eric applauded for their progressiveness!
Session 5: The future of AI or: 'Will we be able to marry a robot in 20 years' time?'
For our final session we investigated undoubtedly one of the most exciting fields in tech at present - Artificial Intelligence!
We were firstly taken on a ride through time with Dr. Marily Nika (award-winning Engineering Programme Manager at Google Home), who brought us all the way back to the sixties when the future first imagined in shows like the 'Jetsons' cartoon (1962) and films like Star Wars (1977) and Her (2013), i.e. talking to machines and using portable phones, seemed completely utopian and unreal, and is now every day practice for us (Hello Alexa!). We learnt further about the way AI machines over time learn to distinguish between images (cat vs. dog) by reinforcement and repetition of data, very similar to how humans learn.
for instance translate street signs simply and Dr. Nika's enthusiasm of the possibilities lurking just beneath the surface of our near future was so infectuous, we couldn't help but be excited!
Dr. Nika left us with the slightly scary but also very intriguing likelihood of machines outsmarting us in the not very distant future, if tech inventions keep advancing at the current pace, which offers great positives but also poses the large question of what that means for the workforce and redudancy of human labour in many industries.
Our second AI expert to share his outlook on the future was robotic startup Emotech's CEO Hongbin Zhuang. Emotech is a London-based artificial intelligence start-up responsibe for creating the smart home robot Olly. Awards include 4 CES 2017 Innovation Awards and a selection as one of the Top 14 European start-up teams by Tech Crunch.
Hongbin made a point of AI needing to move from 'passive' to 'active' interaction with the user and developing a real personality, something that his team at Emotech have made their goal for Olly (Olly over time picks up on his owners' cues and develops his character accordingly) and the importance of an interface and expressions that are relatable. Hongbin drew the link to the likability of cartoon and Disney animated characters due to the 'likable', 'cute' proportions of their features and believes robots will have to tick these boxes to appeal to the general public. He sees failing to create a likeable character as the reason why 'smart' assistants in phones haven't won over the market in a storm. ("Who likes talking to a brick?").
We then took this ideas further in a dynamic panel discussion on How to apply AI in Practice led by AI pragmatist and Founder of 2 Startups David White and joined by a roster of researchers and scientists at the forefront of their respective fields: Ahmed Baladi (Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher), Joel Hughes (Indigogo), Zbigniew Bogdan Wojna (TensorFlight Inc.), Wei Cui (Shanghai Yixue Education) and Jan Medvesek (Emotech).
left to right: David White, Ahmed Baladi (Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher), Zbiegniew Bogan Wojna (TensorFlight Inc.), Joel Hughes (Indigogo), Jan Medvesek (Emotech), Wei Cui (Shanghai Yixue Education)
Another highlight of our day were the showcases by highly promising startups who pitched their ideas to our audience of 20+ delegates and investors from China and the UK, including C-suite members of global investment companies Golden Sunflower Capital Management and GCL Finance (Group) Holdings, the UK Business Angels Association and Funding London, CBBC, London and Partners and many more supporting SMEs to access the Chinese market and acquire the resources needed for fast growth.
During the EFC Networking Lunch our audience members mingled and exchanged ideas (and business cards) aplenty!
The four startups selected to exhibit and pitch their ideas during the festival were open-source machine learning deployment platform Seldon, material innovator ilika, Digital Asset Exchange platform BlockEx, and NeuDrive.
Create@ Alibaba Cloud Global Startup Contest
A second highlight of our festival was our global startup contest held in conjunction with China's largest cloud provider Alibaba Cloud. 10 contestants competed for a chance to attend the world final in China, gain 50.000 USD worth of Alibaba Cloud resources, first-class access to investors and free work space at our Cocoon London headquarters in London CBD.
The lucky winner, startup Modo will now be presenting his idea at the world final in China! Modo is a single visual service that solves digital clutter by locating, managing and working (viewing, sharing, editing, etc) information in the cloud. Modo will serve as your window into one's digital life - be it documents, video, photos from any cloud and email service across all devices.
Cocoon Networks is very proud to have hosted one of the largest Sino-British events of the year. Our delegates, speakers and industry experts travelled from China, the US, all over Europe and the rest of the world to join this celebration of community and an exciting future in tech. We were humbled by the attendance of such sought-after speakers, CEOs of global companies as well as the newest talent from the likes of Google and from award-winning startups such as Emotech.
Not only did the festival allow us to celebrate China-UK connections, we were proud to share the launch of new strategic global partnerships that hope to shape the industry for many years to come.
Overall, there was a great consensus of community and a shared excitement to embrace all the wonderful and potentially scary inventions (robots that will outsmart us soon?) and find a way to actively engage with the digital world and be a part of the 4th revolution happening right now. Everyone ended this truly buzzing day with a (or several) well-deserved glass (es) of wine!
As leading partner of London Tech Week, Cocoon Networks is built on the ethos of ‘Create – Connect – Collaborate’. As a company we feel very much at one with the pulse of this tech hub city and care deeply about continuing to make those great connections between the best and newest UK talent and the Chinese market. We feel that startups are very welcome in China and Chinese investors were welcome here.
We encourage everyone who has attended to stay in touch and look forward to our next festival as well as all our other events and future collaborations! Stay Tuned!
Interested in becoming a Cocooner and join our community of startups and tech enthusiasts? Get in touch!