The CTC’s Matthew Nemerson travelled to China this March with a delegation from Connecticut including Marcum LLP senior partner John Schuyler who is also chairman of the Connecticut – US Commerce Department Export Council, senior staff from CT Innovations, a partner from Wiggin & Dana, LLP and Daniel Drew, the new mayor of Middletown. Unlike most trade missions, the goal was not to sell products per se, but instead to seek direct investments from Chinese government and private entities that are looking to purchase or take positions in American firms with technologies that are of interest to the Chinese. Quite a turn of the screw from 25 years ago when Connecticut first set sail for China with an official trade mission led then by Governor William O’Neal. The hope in 1987 was to land big contracts for manufactured goods to sell or make them – inside in a growing country. Now, with trillions of US dollars on hand in various types of organizations and a growing group of internationally savvy investors, China is a legitimate and huge source of venture capital.
Along the way if the companies can find partners to exploit growing Chinese markets that is more upside, but for the forty or so firms – some CI portfolio firms, others clients of Wiggin & Dana or Marcum and seven established CTC members – were all being pitched as if this were the old CVG Crossroads event.
Eighty government officials and curious investors showed up in Jinan City, Shandong Province and two days later nearly 100 were on hand in Shenyang, Liaoning Province – a bulging city of 4 million with a software incubator itself larger than a few northeast corner Connecticut towns.
CTC firms represented by Matthew included Axxun, Directedvision, i-Mark, Secure RF, Spot On Networks, Tribute Creations and VR Sim. All of the companies seemed to be of some curiosity to business people in the two audiences, but no deals have been completed to date.
In addition to the meetings and presentations, the delegation was shown the site of a newly planned 1.7 million person “Bio-Tech City” in Liaoning province. Still under construction, it will be complete in five years time, together with a 180-mph high-speed rail connection to Beijing. They sure seem to do things differently over there!