Beijing ‘Best Place in the World for Tech Startups’ but Expat Visas Still a Struggle

Beijing ‘Best Place in the World for Tech Startups’ but Expat Visas Still a Struggle
Nov 15, 2017 By

Beijing has surpassed America’s Silicon Valley as the world’s best tech city, according to a new report.


The Top Tech Cities study by Texas-based business resource company Expert Market has declared Beijing’s Zhongguancun hub as the best place in the world to start a tech business.  

Berlin, which claimed the top spot in last year’s study came in second, while San Francisco’s Silicon Valley (Steve Job’s former stomping ground) won third place.

“ [Beijing’s] favorable climate for early-stage funding and the city's affordable cost of living (though costs for home buyers in Beijing are even higher than in San Francisco)", are standout benefits for entrepreneurs, said Forbes magazine.

The researches used various data points, such as salaries, the cost of living and the time it takes to set up a business, to determine the rankings.

The Zhongguancun business hub, which was gifted with a USD1.5 billion investment from the Chinese government last year, is marked for its appetite for innovation and its rapid business development.

It hosts the China headquarters of American tech giants such as Google and Intel as well as homegrown companies like Xiaomi.

Sophia Patsikas, lead researcher at Expert Market, told forbes,  "The fact that their internet is heavily censored in China and many of the dominating Western sites like YouTube, Google and Facebook are currently blocked may actually have worked in the favor of Chinese tech entrepreneurs, who can create Chinese equivalents, without having to compete with titans like Amazon."

However, Nils Pihl, CEO of Zhongguancun-based firm Traintracks, told The Beijinger that the city struggles to attract and retain the brightest minds.

"I think what Beijing is still lacking is better access to top-tier international talent. Many of the best engineers in Beijing still choose to leave for San Francisco, and very little has been done to attract and retain international talent."

AppInChina founder Shlomo Fruend agreed, saying, "For foreigners, it's still very hard to start off, as there is no entrepreneur visa option like other countries have. So, when you are coming to build your company and officially open it, you need to find a way to stay which makes it very difficult."

But there’s no denying that the Chinese government is keen to nurture the startup scene, having invested USD231 billion to date.

Pihl conceded, "Beijing has grown and matured tremendously over the last five years, in particular. Thanks to high access to qualified labor, cheap alternatives for living when you're in your early struggles, and an increasingly healthy investor climate, Beijing has been able to incubate many fantastic companies."

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Keywords: Beijing tech city Beijing Silicon Valley


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Good to know.

Dec 04, 2017 07:55 Report Abuse