Canadian and Chinese innovation leaders at the inaugural Canada China Open Innovation Forum

On Friday, April 28, 2017, members of the business and innovation communities from both British Columbia and China alike gathered at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue. The UN-style conference structure of the Asia Pacific Hall emphasized the global network formed by those present, as part of the first Canada China Open Innovation Forum. Organized by SFU Innovates in partnership with VentureLabs®, the China-Canada Commercialization & Acceleration Network (C2CAN), and the China Canada Cleantech Innovation Centre (CCCIC), the event aimed to bring together Chinese investors and commercialization leaders from China with BC’s vibrant technology startup and SME ecosystem.

Forging strategic relationships between Canada and China was a key goal for this event. With speakers ranging from Chinese and Canadian investors, lawyers and IP experts, incubation leaders and Canadian innovators, here are some insights from the event:

  • Larry Yen, counsel, Dentons LLP – “Canadians are sometimes seen as too polite to ask the hard questions. If we want to be successful internationally, we need to be willing to challenge assumptions and to lay down the ground rules early. It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to set up international partnerships, but once they are running, they can generate huge dividends.”
  • Ivan Spogreev, co-founder and chief technology officer of Cuepath, attendee – “A title takeaway from this forum was guidance on IP protection from Jie Zhang of Sunshine IP. He explained that you need to split up manufacturing so that some of it stays in Canada, and some of it in China so no one but you (the company) understands and controls the end-to-end manufacturing.”
  • Kody Baker, founder and chief executive officer of Velometro, startup pitch participant – “For those unsure of how to approach scaling up and international markets, CCOIF allowed ventures and investors alike to make the first steps towards building these strategic relationships. It was a valuable experience pitching to international investors and hearing their feedback and questions.”
  • Sarah Applebaum, director of Pangaea Spark, Pangaea Ventures, “investors” panelist – “Trust and reputation play a key role when entering new markets. Carefully consider – who do you want as a partner? Can your international partner grow your company’s brand?”
  • Colin Hansen, president of AdvantageBC, “international collaboration” panelist – “Before you hire a consultant, there are a lot of programs from provincial and federal government, from tax incentives, to hiring and international expansion. The Concierge program at NRC-IRAP is a good place to start.”
  • Elicia Maine, professor, academic director of SFU’s Graduate Certificate in Science and Technology Commercialization program, keynote speaker – "Canada has world-class strengths in invention and in entrepreneurship. In other aspects of innovation, such as patenting, tech manufacturing and tech exporting, we still have significant work to do as a country. If we can translate our Canadian strengths in invention and entrepreneurship into science-based ventures holding key patents, such ventures have great potential to scale and to export around the world. Clean tech—in particular—offers tremendous opportunity in this regard."

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