Tech incubator hopes to help U.S.-China start-ups

April 11, 2012 9:41:16 PM PDT
Big multi-national companies like Apple see China as a fast-growing market. Small start-ups have had more difficulty making in-roads there. But a new initiative in Silicon Valley could change that.

It's so new; the painting contractor is still applying finishing touches. Innospring is Silicon Valley's first U.S.-China technology incubator. Engineers are already hard at work.

Lucas Wang has a PhD. from Columbia, but his roots are in China. He has created a cloud-based animation platform he plans to market in both countries. The incubator will help him connect to funders and mentors.

"In order to grow this business, we definitely need to expand our knowledge base or skills, especially in business aspect," Wang said.

Innovative engineers aren't always business pros.

"It's a daunting task; so this is an opportunity, and the mission of Innospring is to help them," Innospring President Eugene Zhang said.

Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky was the U.S. trade representative who negotiated China's entry into the World Trade Organization in 2005.

"It takes capital, it obviously takes a certain amount of know-how and, depending on the sector in which these companies operate, the Chinese market can be highly competitive and difficult to access," Barshefsky said.

The incubator will help some start-up's sell to China. Or Chinese companies to develop U.S. sales. That's the case with Hillstone Networks, a Beijing based enterprise security firm.

"We try to get to understand more, more clear, about the U.S. market," Hillstone general manager Dongping Luo said.

Depending how they do, venture capitalists may select some of the start-ups for a quarter-million dollar investment.

Raymond Wei hopes his photo management app for Facebook will become the next Instagram.

"A year from now, we hope to get millions of users and eventually become as big as Instagram," Wei said.

Innospring is getting ready for its grand opening. At launch, it will have 12 start-ups, but it has room for 40.


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