23 July 2019
Shenzhen has attracted many young entrepreneurs as it has been considered a good place to create and nurture startups. Photo: Xinhua
Shenzhen has attracted many young entrepreneurs as it has been considered a good place to create and nurture startups. Photo: Xinhua

Shenzhen: From a knock-off hub to an innovation powerhouse

Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Big Bay Area has been a hot topic in business and political circles in recent months. Given this, I recently took my students to Shenzhen on a trip to help them gain better understanding of the city and its development.

Once derided as the knock-off city of China, Shenzhen has come a long way to develop original technologies and has become an innovation center in its own right. Shenzhen is now often called China’s Silicon Valley for hardware. The city’s income per capita is among the highest in the country.

There are many factories producing high-precision hardware products, with the list including iconic names such as iPhone contract manufacturer Foxconn.

As such, Shenzhen has lured lots of young entrepreneurs both from within China and overseas, with the people flocking to the city to try their luck and pursue their dreams.

One such example is the person behind the leading consumer drone brand DJI.

DJI was founded by Wang Tao. An entrepreneur born in the 80s, Wang used to study at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

Wang attributed his success partly to a chance his professor gave him, who asked him lead a team to Japan to join a robotics competition. Through the exercise, he learnt how to build a team, as well as how to build a robot through team efforts.

Huaqiangbei in Shenzhen, which is a huge electronics market, is where Wang purchased the parts needed. Here, you can find almost any electronics component — including those related to telecoms, robotics, and internet of things.

DJI has now become the world’s biggest consumer drone maker. Wang’s professor is one of the company’s first group of investors.

Wang’s decision to set up the headquarters in Shenzhen reflects to a certain extent the manufacturing and innovation edge of the city.

DJI has adopted many open technologies and successfully attracted customers with premium design and features.

For those who have tried their products, it’s won’t be difficult to feel the passion of people working in DJI. For instance, DJI drones not only can be used for aerial photography, they also have more than five cameras and AI sensors to detect safe flying zones.

The drones can be connected to the cloud for real-time sharing of data. Also, the company spares no effort in constantly upgrading its products.

DJI has demonstrated its success by combining the strengths of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. There is a lot Hong Kong can learn from Shenzhen with regard to nurturing technology talent.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 13

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Information Technology Federation Chairman

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