Nov 8

The top three things we learned about business in China

Part II: Touch Surgery’s journey to the East as part of the UKTI technology group

As you may have read in last week’s blog entry, on the 13th of October Jean Nehme the CEO of Touch Surgery traveled to China as a part of the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) delegation. The group of entrepreneurs and organisations representing UK businesses were rich with talent, enthusiasm and exciting ideas.  Traveling throughout China with this delegation was an excellent opportunity to learn from leaders in business and technology in China.  We also learned a lot about local healthcare problems.  After reflecting on this amazing experience, we thought we would take this time to share our thoughts on the three most important things we learned whilst being part of this delegation and memorable experience.

1. China is one of the largest emerging markets for health

The spending in China on healthcare spending is projected to grow from $357 billion in 2011 to $1 trillion by the year 2020.  What is driving this phenomenal growth? Continued urbanization, expansion of the economy, and most interestingly is the greater social awareness of and ability to access healthcare treatments.  Additionally, the government is making healthcare a greater priority as illustrated by the 2009 healthcare reform.

As this boom in healthcare infiltrates China, so does the need to amalgamate this with the expanding technology field.  Figures such as the 99 million apps downloaded in China in December 2012 alone highlight the insatiable appetite of the Chinese people to utilise technology within their daily lives.   Ultimately, we believe that as China has a large population, strong economy and a different way of engaging with healthcare and technology.

2. Chinese companies are leading major revolutions in technology

During our time in China, we were fortunate enough to meet and learn from leaders in the Chinese technology field.  The companies we met with are certainly household names in technology throughout China and are quickly becoming global names synonymous with technology. Some of the Chinese companies we had the opportunity to meet with include:

Baidu: this search engine company which is headquartered in Baidu Campus, Haidian District in Beijing has often faced comparison to another global search engine.  This one-stop-shop for all things information related includes a built encyclopedia, keyword-based discussion forum, amongst other tools within the 57 search and community services included within this platform.  Baidu is the first Chinese company to be included in the NASDAQ-100 index.  This organisation is certainly one to watch as they have made R&D a major priority within their organisation.

Tencent: headquartered in Nanshan District, Shenzhen, this investment holding company provides mass media, mobile phone, entertainment and online advertising services.  Its wide portfolio of subsidiaries includes many forays into ecommerce and technology including social networks, web portals and online games.  It may be most well known in the west for its instant messenger, Tencent QQ.  Unbeknownst to some, it is the third-largest Internet company in the world only falling behind Google and Amazon (as of November 2010).

Sina: this online media company’s name translates into the phrase ‘new wave,’ and it certainly strives to live up to this title.  Headquartered in Shanghai since 2001, within the Sina company are four major business lines including Sina Weibo, Sina Mobile, Sina Online, and Sina.net.  The company is perhaps most well-known as the Chinese version of Twitter with its microblog social network, and it has more than 500 million users which is rapidly increasing with more than 20 million new users per month using the service.  

Huawei: with headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong, this telecommunications company is a global leader in the market — larger than the previous number one company, Ericsson.  The company ethos is centred on building telecommunications networks with a focus on providing expertise consulting within and outside of China.  It also focuses on the development and manufacture of communication devices with a consumer-facing focus.  The company continues to grow and expand its global endeavours and was listed on the Global Fortune 500 list — cementing its place as a force to be reckoned with in the telecommunications world.

3. UKTI is rapidly building bridges between the UK and China business

The team from UKTI created an exceptional environment in China for sharing ideas and ensured that every last detail was flawlessly executed — from major meetings between government heads to speedy airport transfers for every member of the delegation.  The team at UKTI have a great understanding of the local opportunities and have extensive documentation helping support companies seeking to set up in China.

Hong Kong Lights

A final and fundamental lesson is to approach China with a real enthusiasm to learn about local problems and a determination to help with the solution. As surgeons we consider ourselves lifelong students of our craft, but this trip really excited and engaged us — making us realise that we are also students of global healthcare.  

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