ACE Beijing, the first overseas chapter of the Action Community for Entrepreneurship, has welcomed its first batch of 14 Singapore start-ups interested in venturing into China, four months after its launch.

The Singaporean entrepreneurs brought with them ideas ranging from online car rental to digital image recognition. Besides hearing from experienced entrepreneurs at the ACE BlueSky Conference @ Beijing, the rookies also got to sharpen their selling skills at the event, pitching their business plans to a panel of judges. And building connections was what they did at the conference, which was also attended by guests like Mr Mo Weigang, who’s in charge of entrepreneurship for the Communist Youth League in Beijing.

Veteran Singaporean entrepreneurs and businessmen like Mr Douglas Foo of the Sakae Sushi chain and Mr Bennett Neo, regional director of Asia Pacific Breweries as well as China-based investors like Mr Jui Tan, partner of BlueRun Ventures were also present at the event to give their advice.

As Professor Wong Poh Kam, director of NUS Entrepreneurship Centre and an active angel investor in Silicon Valley and Asia, said during a panel discussion at the conference, emerging markets like China and India are where the greatest growth potential lies. “I’d rather invest in entrepreneurs who can identify unique problems and solutions in emerging markets, who can then push it to other emerging markets,” he said. Rather than just taking an idea from Silicon Valley and replicating it elsewhere, there’s a greater chance of getting a winner if someone comes up with an unique idea in an emerging market instead, he added.

Besides providing a network of mentors, ACE Beijing also can help start-ups from Singapore find a place to work in Beijing. It has secured an incubation space in Zhongguancun, China’s answer to Silicon Valley, to provide a landing pad with facilities and business services. The National University of Singapore (NUS) Enterprise Incubator is also co-funding this and providing mentors.

 The piece was contributed by Jason Lin, the Co-Founder at SpeakingMax.cn, an English learning website based in Beijing, China. He also sits on the Communications Committee of ACE Beijing Chapter.