Huawei, the world leader in telecom network equipment and smartphone maker, has unparalleled technical breadth and has refined its models both in China and the developing world to the point where it now also dominates in some Western markets.
Tencent, whose WeChat is the ace in the Chinese social media race, with 1.09 billion active users, has surpasses Facebook to become one of the most valuable companies in the world. Tencent Holdings Ltd. has reached the top five on the list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies for 2018.
DJI is the world’s top drone maker, with great ambition to transport supplies to islands and producing high and low-end market winners.
Nowadays, many Westerners still insist Chinese products are cheap and low-quality copies. Such perceptions may present a portion of China’s market. But Shenzhen, as one of the most open cities in China, has more than its share of world-class companies that are rising in rankings on size, growth, and most significantly, innovation. There is a saying in China: to see the country’s past, go to Beijing; for the present, to Shanghai; and for the future, to Shenzhen. Shenzhen is a very young and futurist metropolis. All the firms mentioned above and many others born in Shenzhen have succeeded by applying a mix of world-class management and technology. They also operate to the world-class standard. Actually the big domestic market and ecosystem has led to the dynamic drive for innovation. Many innovative firms don’t have to look for international markets because there is so much room to grow in China.
In addition, the Shenzhen city government has made impressive investment in key sectors. Clean energy, electric cars, clean energy, batteries, aviation, robotics, genomics, space, security — these and others have been targeted as part of the country’s policy on industrial upgrade, indicating the government’s priorities and where firms are likely to make big acquisitions.
Serious efforts and plans are on the way to achieve the innovative goal of Shenzhen. Chinese firms are continuing to innovate and seize the promising chances of the city’s development, and Western companies in China have a chance too to keep up with them.
By catching with up the innovative speed of Shenzhen, the West can learn much about scaling up and operating in fast-moving markets, applying the experience to the emerging economies such as Africa and South Asia.
Take a closer look at Shenzhen, and you can see money, an educated and ambitious workforce, a can-do spirit, impressive companies, and a dogged spirit to achieve. When I had dinner in a Hunan food stall in Shenzhen, people next to me chatted loudly about BAT, startups, and angel investment. The last time I saw this scene was in San Jose. You can imagine and you can make in Shenzhen.
(With previous work experience in the United States, the author now works in Shenzhen and has studied the innovation policies for some time.)