The 1st College Students Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum of China’s Ying Cai Ji Hua, or Talent Program, was held in Shanghai from July 27 to 29, 2019.
According to an official with the national office of the program, although participation lasts only one year, the program aims to provide life-long support to participating students, as demonstrated by the College Students Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum. The forum aimed to build a platform for previous students of the program, now college students, to share resources and exchange experiences. It offered a chance for the students to discuss the trends of scientific and technological innovation with renowned scientists and entrepreneurs and would encourage them to choose a career path and devote themselves to it.
So far, nearly 4,000 secondary school students have participated in the Talent Program since it was launched in 2013 by the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) and the Ministry of Education.
Zhao Guoping, member of the CAS and professor at the School of Life Sciences, Fudan University delivers keynote speech at the 1st College Students Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum.
Zhao Guoping, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and professor at the School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, shared with students his academic experiences in biology since he decided to pick up the discipline at 15 during the forum.
“You will have a deeper understanding of freedom as long as you have the faith that being a good scientific researcher is being a good man first.” Zhao, now 70, said. He encouraged students to pursue innovations throughout their life, realize their values and be an asset to society.
Regarding the way of conducting scientific research, Zhao encouraged students to aim high, take responsibilities, be visionary, and stay down to earth.
According to Zhao, to aim high means to have a correct understanding about the world and be confident. Zhao told students to be determined and never stop improving themselves. “It is not your ability but your attitude that makes a difference in your life,” Zhao said. It was of crucial importance to know what to do and what not to do, no matter when it came to a life decision or a research decision, Zhao said.
In terms of taking responsibilities, Zhao explained that it did not mean to claim credit but to offer to take responsibilities for undesirable jobs. “Once you get started, you shouldn’t give up easily, no matter how difficult it is. This is how you achieve things,” Zhao added.
Being visionary means to learn extensively and think logically and innovatively and a down-to-earth attitude means to work hard, pursue excellence and promote public good, Zhao explained.
Jiang Lei, founder and CEO of Shanghai Ennovabio Co., Ltd, agreed with Zhao. He also believed that, similar to scientific research, it was also necessary to make continuous self-improvement when starting a business. “As far as I’m concerned, what defines an extraordinary CEO is not how excellent he already is, but how well he can learn. You should never stop learning.” Jiang said.
Jiang, a graduate of chemistry, also noted that for chemistry, it matters a lot whether you could do something for society. “If what you are doing does not meet market demand, solve a pain point, or is not useful to society, it is not that meaningful.”
Participants of the 1st College Students Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum visit the neoBay Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Community.
Addressing the problem that only some of the research results of universities have been put into application in society, Zhan Pengpeng, founder of TechAG Capital, noted that rather than solely focusing on research, students and teachers should also think about how to put their research findings on the market. Zhan believed that it was such a pity if research was conducted only to write papers instead of realizing their social values. Zhan said college students could try to start a real innovation or business as long as they can control cost, but he warned them not to be blind. Instead, he encouraged students to participate in innovation and entrepreneurship courses, activities, programs and competitions to sharpen their innovative and entrepreneurial thinking and ability and improve their soft power.
Yu Bing, president of Shanghai Yanhua Smartech, elaborated on the difficulties of starting a business and the factors worth thinking about in the R&D process. Yu said that companies of different sizes have different R&D focuses. As far as Yu was concerned, the most important thing for startups was to stay in business and R&D served this purpose.
Yu also stressed that R&D needs to be systematic and innovation needs to go ahead despite difficulties. In his opinion, innovation through imitation is by no means true innovation, and is a big reason why companies trying to succeed by imitating and innovating low-tech products cannot become industry leaders.
Yu also listed capital, talents, market, and application of research findings as some of the other issues that deserve consideration. He told students to develop a strategic vision and stay perceptive to the change of market and policies.
Students came up many creative business ideas at a competition during the forum, such as innovative kitchen waste bins and intelligent application study assistants. The ideas were complete with preliminary technological designs, risk assessment and financial analysis.
Liu Zifeng, a previous student of the Talent Program who is now studying at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said the forum provided him with a new idea about his scientific research in the future. “While searching for answers to scientific questions, we should also think about their application in daily life and adopt an interdisciplinary approach to develop truly useful products.”
Huang Yulong, a computer science major at Taishan College of Shandong University, said, “I now have a clearer idea about my future. What I learned at the forum supports my original plan to focus on scientific research first before starting my own business. Starting a business requires good timing and good luck and it is not something that you can wish for quick results.”
For now, Huang will continue to conduct research in computer science and wait for the right time to start a business, believing this will lead to a greater chance of success and better products.