In the U.S. and China, start-ups are considered among the most innovative, dynamic and energetic sectors in any economy.
CGTN’s Ge Yunfei recently visited the most startup-vibrant regions, the Bay Areas in the States, and in China.
Shenzhen in southern China’s Greater Bay Area is considered the country’s Silicon Valley. In the city, a group of young people are kicking off an engineering competition called Makerathon, a combination of the words, makers and marathon.
The contestants will test their wits and endurance to build a robot in the next 24 hours without sleep.
“Human evolution is driven by creativity. And what we’re doing is to help more people explore their potential to create,” Jasen Wang, Makeblock founder & CEO said.
The competition is an annual event organized by a startup called Makeblock, a global leader in robotics and education. The company’s founder, Jasen Wang, has some questions for his U.S. counterparts.
“The question that I’d like to ask about the U.S. startups are, ‘what are hottest start-up areas right now in the U.S.? And what are the new generation of entrepreneurs thinking at the moment?’ ”
Within a mile of the Soma District in San Francisco, there are lots of unicorns like Uber, Lyft, and Dropbox. And downstairs in the incubator, dozens of companies are striving to be one of them.
The incubator is called OnePieceWork. Ranging from artificial intelligence to big data, over 200 companies are now registered. It was founded by Guo Wei, a Silicon Valley-based angel investor. He’s financed over 300 startups across China and the U.S. Guo listed four of the most popular areas in the U.S. for startups.
“Software to business, biotech, space tech, and blockchain. And the U.S. startups tend to more focus on one certain industry or certain product,” said Guo Wei, OnePieceWork venture capitalist.
Apparently, startups in China and the U.S. have already reached some consensus at least on one technology, blockchain, though Jasen Wang is skeptical.
“Now the P2P financing, internet finance and the blockchain are definitely the hottest in China. But I think many of those startups are just doing usury. Of course it can make quick money, but it’s not valuable to the society,” said Wang.
Though Silicon Valley has a booming business in space tech and biotech, most of the start-ups here are still somewhat soft when compared to their Chinese counterparts.
“Smart software is going down here in the Silicon Valley. The cost of building hardware is so expensive that I don’t think the startups in the U.S. have the opportunity to do that,” said Wei.
China, on the other hand, has been the world’s factory for decades. Making hardware is exactly what the Chinese companies are good at.
“China’s supply chain brings a special advantage in the field that requires combination of software and hardware. In terms of making hardware products, we’re much more competitive than overseas players,” said Wang.
But it seems in both countries, startups are facing some of the same problems. When tech companies cluster in hubs like Silicon Valley, it drives up the cost of living.
“The Silicon Valley becomes centralized. Young people, they are not able to afford the living cost here. The environment is slowly getting worse. And too much capital here creates a startup bubble,” said Wei.
“I think the world is facing the same situation. Big companies like Alibaba and Tencent are growing bigger and bigger, even with an annual growth rate of 30 to 40 percent. That, in fact, leaves a smaller market for the start-ups. I don’t see any solution to this problem,” said Wang.
Back in Shenzhen, a small, unmanned robotic kitchen is one of the winners. Out of cauldrons of competition and creativity may come the next billion-dollar idea.