On Saturday I had the honour of moderating my first panel discussion for iWeekend on the topic of Silicon Valley and Beijing Tech Startup Ecosystem. The event was held at Venture Cinema in SOHO Mordent City in Beijing, a cinema that hosts many panels and networking events for investors and start-ups.  After the panel, the classic movie, “Pirates of Silicon Valley” was screened to show the birth of Apple and Microsoft in the Silicon Valley glory days.

In front of a packed room of around 200 guests, there were four speakers. They included Tyr Chen, CTO and Co-founder of TukeQ, an online social travel organization tool and two time iWeekend team who went on to become incubated in the famous Innovation Works. Another was Edward Liu who is currently the CEO of Beijing Fastweb Technology, a CDN service provider. Edward also has a strong entrepreneurial background with three past start-ups in America. Another was Mikko Puhakka, who is the head of International Relation & Board Member at China Open Source Base. Originally from Finland, Mikko is also an investor and had his biggest success by being an early investor in mySQL which also originated from Finland. Lastly there was Dennis Zhang, an Operating Partner of CDH Investment and former President of Yahoo China.

Since the topic centred on the similarities and differences between Silicon Valley and Beijing I was keen to ask the panel their opinion on how Beijing became a second world hub for tech start-ups. Since Edward started his entrepreneurial career in Silicon Valley and returned to Beijing in 2005, he gave the most insight into this question. He talked about how some of the world-class educational institutions are based in the Silicon Valley, such as Stanford and Berkely. He noted famous companies such as Sun Microsytems which actually stands for Stanford University Network. Likewise, Beijing is home to some of China’s best universities such as Tsinghua, Peking University and Beijing Technology University. These schools are producing the next wave of tech entrepreneurs because they are all congregate in close proximity and have the intelligence to break out on their own and challenge the status quo of joining a big company. Similar insights were given by Calvin Chin, in one of my very first interviews for TechNode.

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Jason Lim

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.