2017 has been a very prosperous and eventful year here at Cocoon Networks! The year is nearing its end and we thought it the perfect time to reflect on our Cocoon Networks journey over the past twelve months.
We ambitiously launched Cocoon Networks London as one of Europe’s largest Sino-British networking platforms only in December 2016. And how far we’ve come in a little over a year!
Cocoon Networks is Europe’s first Chinese-funded cross-border platform specialised in Co-working Space Management, Financial Services Provision and Entrepreneurial Community Building. In our quest to connect British start-ups and SMEs with the Chinese market and with China's capital and foster cross-cultural collaboration we have reached some fantastic milestones and our co-working space in London CBD is buzzing with some of London’s most promising start-ups.
Once an 70.000 sq ft. abandoned office building, 4 Christopher Street, our Cocoon Networks London headquarters, have truly been transformed into a hub of innovation, creativity and extraordinary connectedness with offices over 5 floors, meeting rooms, event space and a spacious open rooftop. And we’re only just getting started…
Below is a collection of our 2017 highlights:
China-UK Hi! Technology Festival
In June 2017 we hosted the 2nd edition of our 3-day China-UK Hi! Technology Festival, a key element of this year’s London Tech Week. Over the course of three days we connected over 1200 tech professionals, entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers from China and the UK to form new business relationships
Deemed London's largest Sino-British event of the year, the China-UK Hi! Technology Festival saw keynote speeches, panel discussions, Q&As, workshops and networking opportunities with a cadre of highly accomplished representatives from industry, government and academia. Discussions centred on the innovation and investment opportunities between China and the UK in Industry 4.0’s emerging smart technologies, such as Fintech & Blockchain, AI, Smart Device, and Greentech. Keynote speakers included Eric Van der Kleij (C4DR & The Department for International Trade; also Founder of Level39 and Tech City initiatives), Dr. Langen Shu and Shibing Xia (GCL Finance Group Holdings), John Liu (ChinaEquity Group), Russ Shaw (Tech London Advocates), Jeff Cao (London & Partners), Sunan Jiang (Chinese Embassy UK), Dr Marily Nika (Google Home) and Hongbin Zhuang (Emotech).Topics covered investment opportunities under Industry 4.0 & Made in China 2025, MedTech, FinTech, Blockchain, AI and Accessing the Chinese market.
London Tech Week
We hosted the China-UK Hi! Technology Festival during the most exciting week of the year for the tech sector - London Tech Week! As we were leading partners of the 2017 London Tech Week, which ran under the fitting theme of #LondonisOpen, we threw ourselves in the deep end and experienced as many fantastic keynote speeches and talent showcases as possible, and even met some of the latest robots on the market!
In May and together with the award-winning robotics start-up Emotech we launched Meet AI, a monthly knowledge sharing platform for our London-based AI community. We have hosted 5 sessions thus far in our Cocoon Networks event space and witnessed keynote speeches from outstanding researchers of Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Jibo, Emotech, the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, ETH Zurich, and Imperial College London. Meet AI has also caught media attention recently and has been featured in the FT China. For the final session of the year, attendees even got to meet a special guest, the robot Olly.
Topics addressed by our expert speakers and researchers in 2017 included TTS; Machine & Reinforcement Learning; AI, Art and Animation, AI and Crowdfunding and many more.
You can read more about the sessions in our archive:
Meet AI 3
Meet AI 4
Meet AI 5
We will continue the series in 2018 and are excited to keep expanding this exciting AI community in Europe's tech hub London!
Partnership with C4DR
UK tech pioneer Eric Van der Kleij launched his newest venture C4DR ‘Centre for Digital Revolution’ in our Cocoon Networks headquarters in May. C4DR is a a multi-city business development hub comprising a built-in international corporate foundry, a series of start-up challenge programmes targeting key industry verticals, and an in-house 4IR think tank. C4DR is a series of new, international ‘digital foundry and insight centres’ harnessing the key technologies of the modern industrial revolution, as opportunity for business and a force for good in society. C4DR will help corporates and start-ups figure out how to take advantage of new technologies and is planning to establish custom centres in five countries over the next three years.
Eric Van der Kleji, Founder and CEO at C4DR:”Cocoon Networks as our partner are as determined as we are to help crack the code on how European and UK companies can more satisfactorily expand to China. There are two or three unicorns a year that come out of Europe. But if we had real access to the Chinese market it could double that”
John Zai, Founder and CEO at Cocoon Networks: “It is fantastic to have C4DR landing at Cocoon Networks London. I believe it will further enhance the quality of our service to provide start-ups with access to a much larger market and help them propel their business to China”
During 2017 we established further strategic partnerships with Golden Concord Holdings Limited, Jiangong Real Estate, China International Marine Containers (Group) Ltd. (CIMC), ARM Accelerator. We also partnered with London Tech Week and hosted the annual Hackaton in our event space.
Create@Alibaba Cloud Global Start-up Contest (CACSC)
The Create@Alibaba Cloud global startup contest is a highly competitive annual competition for entrepreneurs organised by Alibaba Cloud, China’s largest public Cloud.
We thoroughly enjoyed hosting the regional UK station and congratulated the winner, MODO Systems Ltd., who competed with finalists from the UK, US, France, Germany, China, and the Middle East at the world final in China in October 2017.
The 2017 global winner, HistoWiz, a New York-based biotech startup that automates histology presented its winning business idea to the Zhangijang Hi-Tech Park in Shanghai. The contest offered not only global exposure, but also future cloud infrastructure support programs including up to $216,000 in cloud resource credits. Read more here
China-UK Entrepreneurship Competition
We hosted the 10th edition of the China-UK Entrepreneurship Competition as part of the “Belt & Road Forum in Technology”, which discussed China’s Belt & Road Initiative, the revitalisation of China’s ancient Silk Road to enhance 21st century connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. The China-UK Entrepreneurship Competition was developed in 2008 by Lancaster University and the China Innovation and Development Association. It is supported by both the British Council and by Hanban’s Confucius Institute Programme and has become a central event of the vibrant Sino-British tech scene. Today the university partners include Lancaster, UAE, Edinburgh and Northumbria.
The proud winner of the 10th competition was LoMaRe, an Imperial College London spinout focused on developing revolutionary technology concepts based on the latest advancements in thin-film technology.
Global Marine Innovation Entrepreneurship Competition
In October we hosted the UK station of the 2017 Global International Marine Innovation Entrepreneurship Competition in our Cocoon Networks event space, co-sponsored by MIT, COCOSPACE and the Qingdao International Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology. The competition uncovered the most promising companies in the marine and deep tech industries globally. The UK winner, CAMBUOY, is a team of three entrepreneurs from the University of Cambridge and from Ensta Paris Tech, who designed a smart and low-cost digital ocean monitoring system.
At the finals on November 6th, the innovation and entrepreneurial project of Shandong University, "the first two-step truss hydraulic bolt type lifting device for self-elevating marine service platform" won the award together with 5 other teams from Germany, Britain, Canada and Shanghai. The winners received 500,000 RMB each and start-up counselling from Shandong University. The runner-up, Thornhill Medical, received 300,000 RMB and start-up support services as well.
Tech Shanghai Advocates Launch by John Zai
2017 also marked the historic launch of Tech Shanghai Advocates, the first China-based branch of Global Tech Advocates, which will connect Chinese entrepreneurs to the existing international network and provide access to a global community of entrepreneurs, investors and tech enthusiasts aspiring to the highest level of cross-cultural innovation.
The Tech Advocates network is a private sector-led coalition of thousands of tech experts, investors and government officials from seven regions of the world, who come together to facilitate open debate, knowledge sharing and global cooperation. TSA is now the very first landing point in China and will connect Chinese tech leaders to the remaining global network, encouraging greater collaboration and innovation across the international marketplace.
John Zai's appearances and awards:
John Zai, our Founder and CEO, is an expert on China-UK business relationships, award-winning investor and has become an advocate for connecting the brightest talent in the UK and China. Over the course of 2017, apart from founding TSA,, John also collected a series of awards and spoke at a wide range of events:
Global Tech Advocates’ Tech World Tour:
The Tech London Advocates’ Tech World Tour was a grand event held at Here East, which convened over 800 tech leaders from all over the world to celebrate the official launch of the Global Tech Advocates Network founded by tech pioneer Russ Shaw. As the Founder of Tech Shanghai Advocates and thus a Global Tech Advocates leader, John Zai shared his insights into the relevance of connecting the UK’s talent to the Chinese market and resources and vice versa.
5th CBBC China Outbound Conference
Organised by CBBC and CCPIT and supported by the British Consulate General Guangzhou, British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, British Chamber of Commerce in Guangdong and several leading Chinese investment institutions, the 5th CBBC China Outbuond Conference highlighted the fantastic trade and cooperation opportunities between China and the UK.
Asian Stars in UK Tech
As a pledge for diversity and inclusion in Britain, we were proud to witness think tank DiversityUK's '100 Asian Stars in UK Tech' event to honour and showcase the wealth of Asian talent in the UK tech scene. Honorees included startup founders, social entrepreneurs, technologists, venture capital and angel investors to policy makers and game changers.
John Zai was delighted to serve on the judging panel after having himself been honoured as one of the 'Top 5 Investors' of 2016 for his successful Sino-British startup ecosystem. The initiative celebrates diversity in the digital sector with a focus on disruptive technologies.
China-Britain AI Summit
Organised by the China-Britain Business Fusion (CBBF), a multidisciplinary and multi-industry consultancy firm assisting British and Chinese companies with their respective market-entry plans, and held at the Institution for Engineering and Technology, this Sino-British AI summit investigated the Chinese and British AI landscape from a variety of angles. It further uncovered the access points for UK technology in the Belt & Road initiative and aided in forging global partnerships. The event was attended by representatives from leading Chinese investment firms, AI startups, university researchers and the Chinese embassy.
Our Cocoon Networks Founder and CEO John Zai delivered a keynote speech and participated in the first panel discussion of the day titled 'Illuminating the Chinese & UK AI landscape' together with senior representatives from King's College London, IBM, Watson Health, ASME and Zige Robotics.
UK Angel Investment Awards Gala
The UK Angel Investment Awards Gala is an annual event celebrating the high growth and success of the UK's angel and early stage investment ecosystem. Now in its 12th year, the award ceremony was brought into being by the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA), the national trade association representing angel and early-stage investment in the UK which shines the spotlight on the fastest growing brands and supporting forces behind them, i.e. the founders, angels, crowdfund and early stage VC investors responsible for their success. John Zai was delighted to present this year's Exit of the Year Award to winner ByBox, a leading technology company specialising in supply chain solutions, tech services deployment and repair, and Click & Collect lockers.