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Startup Nations

Erica Huang, CEO of Techcode Global:
The Global Layout of Incubators for The Bright Future of AI

‘The New Plan of AI development’ issued by China’s State Council in July proposed that the scale of the core industry of AI would exceed 150 billion yuan by the year of 2020, leading to more than 1 trillion yuan of related industries. About the commercialization of AI, 21st Century Business Herald reporter had an exclusive interview with Erica Huang, CEO of Techcode Global.

Erica Huang said, ‘ At present, although lots of AI product technologies have met some commercial demands, there is still a huge space for improvement and available talents as well. ’

According to the latest data, since its establishment 2 years ago, Techcode has built 30 incubators in 22 cities, 7 countries including China, USA, Israel, Germany, South Korea,Finland and Russia. By June of this year, there have been 690 incubated in Techcode, of which 20% are valuated more than 50 million yuan, 11% more than 100 million yuan, and 2% more than 500 million yuan. The total financing of the incubated start-ups have reached 4 trillion yuan, and their total valuation have been estimated at 42.3 trillion yuan. There have been more than 20,000 companies joined Techcode’s membership, 1,325 intellectual properies and more than 4600 jobs created in Techcode.

Reporter: What kind of AI projects, teams or companies are Techcode’s target clients? What applications Scenarios of AI is the most promising one for Techcode?

Erica Huang:Actually we focus on the whole AI industry. We believe that AI is definitely the future, and it will completely change the way we live.

So far AI technology has been developed for 61 years. However, its application only started two years ago and it got incredibly huge potential market. For the application of AI, there are a variety of them such as grant health, ICV, education, UAV, AR and VR, etc.

We choose our potential incubated start-ups based on their experience, and also their business mode, not just on their technology.

Reporter: What do you think about the prospect of the commercialization of AI? What are the main obstacles? How should an incubator help an AI entrepreneur to achieve the commercialization of their technology?

Erica Huang:The main issue we are facing right now is that from its technology to its system development and application , the whole process is not mature enough. We have seen quite a lot of nice projects and products. However, some projects aim to apply their technology into some traditional fields, which means there is certain amount of time needed for the market to accept the new products. What we can do is to provide the services that will help them to put their products into the early market so they can be prepared for the huge market later.

Another problem is that the number of AI application talents is still very limited. There are much more talents are needed who know AI technologies and how to apply the technologies to some traditional industries as well, which is exactly the reason why we started our Techcode Global AI Accelerator Program last year. As the accelerator collects the outstanding projects all round the world, Techcode provides with them the optimal one-on-one mentor services on various aspects including product design, application market launching, policies and financing.

Reporter: How to combine AI development with the regional innovative economy? Has Techcode gotten any experience on that?

Erica Huang:Actually what we are doing is very tough, and is also greatly necessary for the development of China. The development of each region should be specially designed according to its unique local resources. We have started our experiment on the areas which are half-hour away from Beijing, Shanghai, and Shengzhen separately, and we call it the ‘one-hour economic circle’. These places are suitable for the industrial development of AI, because these regions are much cheaper than their nearby first-tier city, and it is easier to get the extra talents from those big cities in these surrounding regions.

Besides, these regions haven’t been exploited yet, therefore, we can help them to do their smart city planning for becoming a better application market in the near future. After three to five years, there will be an AI-leading innovative development mode forming in these places, so the local employment and GDP will be promoted. And that is how Techcode combine AI development and regional economic development.

At present, we are establishing an AI Cluster in Xianghe, a region close to Beijing, and an ICV cluster in Gu’an, along with some other ICV clusters in some regions near Shanghai and Nanjing.

Accelerate The Global Layout

Reporter: We notice that Techcode has been expanding very fast overseas. May I ask why do you put so many efforts abroad?

Erica Huang:We develop our layout overseas as we develop it in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, because these countries and regions have the strongest innovation power, resources and atmosphere. Our main priority industries are AI, Grand Health, and New Energy. To dig these fields deeper, global layout is necessary. In addition, to respond to ‘China Embraces Globalization’ loudly with our action, we think Techcode should also become resourceful platform serving for the cooperation and communication among Chinese and foreign companies.

To help Chinese companies to launch overseas, we have accumulate some experience. Chinese innovative companies are still exploring its way to launch overseas and they can easily find some proper potential partners in the target country on Techcode’s platform.

Reporter: Does Techcode get any plan for investment? Any plan for setting up a fund?

Erica Huang:As a start-up ecosystem operator, we will first gather the optimal VC resources on our platform, the VC resources which are willing to invest in those leading fields. In the past two years, our incubated companies have gotten external financing of 4 trillion yuan, which is highly efficient in the current market.

On the other hand, we are co-building and developing with some regional governments, which hope to set up industry-leading funds, so we may take part in it and hopefully to get it done in 2017.

Reporter: CFLD has been building industrial parks along the ‘One Belt and One Road(OBOR)’ regions. Would Techcode also participate in it?

Erica Huang:We currently introduce a lot of innovation resources from Europe and America to China, and then get them developed to application market in China, and hopefully will introduce their products to the countries of OBOR. CFLD is Techcode’s strategic partner, and it is so far the biggest industrial new town operator. OBOR regions are also one of CFLD’s main areas, so Techcode will also contribute to it.

Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and some ASEAN countries will be the focus of our attention. However, due to the uniqueness of those markets themselves, we still need some time to make our current work more solid before we can start a better communication with them to discuss a new mode of cooperation.