In the latest addition to its Startup China series, the University of New South Wales is aiming to introduce Chengdu, a leading ‘second tier’ Chinese city home to 14 million people, to the Australian innovation community.

Chengdu Innovate will take place on the 7th of July in Sydney, where three winners from six finalists will be selected to go on a trade tour to Chengdu. The event will also feature an expert panel to discuss innovation opportunities in Chengdu and tips on doing business in China.

The initiative received a grant from the Australia-China Council DFAT and on-the-ground logistical assistance from the Australian Consulate and Austrade in Chengdu.

“Many entrepreneurs interested in the China market are only familiar with first tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai. But there are actually many opportunities and benefits of engaging with emerging second tier cities like Chengdu, especially as the first tiers get saturated,” said Joshua Flannery, the manager of UNSW’s entrepreneur development program.

“We wanted to bring together ecosystems that previously hadn’t collaborated much and encourage bilateral trade that covers new ground.”

Chengdu Innovate is jointly run by China Ambition, whose CEO Melissa Ran was born in Chengdu.

Ran said she is especially excited to share the stories of panelist entrepreneurs who are ‘overseas returnees’ to China.

“These talented entrepreneurs were educated outside of China. They could go anywhere but they chose to grow their ventures in a second tier city like Chengdu because they see opportunities unavailable elsewhere,” she said.

Chengdu is the economic centre of Western China, a region whose economic development is currently the focus for the Chinese government. As of June 2015, 265 of the Fortune Global 500 companies have offices in Chengdu, while startups are also seeing its potential: the city is Uber’s number one city globally for average daily rides completed and is the only city outside of the US it has ever chosen to pilot its global new commuter services.

Chengdu’s information security industry is also the largest in China representing one third of the entire industry nationally.

Featured panelists at the event include a representative from Chengdu government’s technology committee, the head of Chengdu’s Software Industry Association; Gang Lu, the founder of Technode & TechCrunch China, China’s largest English language tech media; Mike Li, serial entrepreneur and founder of Walnut coworking space in Chengdu; and Jemma Xu from Tripalocal. Xu was interviewed by Malcolm Turnbull on his trade mission to China earlier in the year.

The focus on China is a strong one for UNSW, which earlier this year partnered with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology that will see the building of a $100 million innovation precinct at the university’s Sydney campus.

The partnership is part of the Chinese Torch program, which has created 150 innovation precincts around China since 1988. Bringing businesses, universities, and research organisations together in hubs to drive innovation, these precincts now generate seven percent of China’s GDP, 10 percent of industrial output, and 16 percent of export value.

Interested entrepreneurs and innovators can register for the event here.

Image: Chengdu. Source: Supplied.

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