The Belgian business community is becoming increasingly aware that China is at the forefront of innovation. Pascal Coppens, author, keynote speaker, sinologist, and technology entrepreneur, wrote the book: China’s New Normal. He describes how China sets the standard for innovation. The book’s common theme is China’s leading position in the development and implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI). What can Belgian companies learn from China’s innovative power?
Pascal has worked and lived in China and Silicon Valley for more than twenty years. Since 2016, he is back in Belgium. “Belgian start-ups, small-, medium-, and large businesses show much goodwill in the area of digitalization and innovation. However, compared to the extent China is changing the world with AI, Belgian companies are lagging,” he says. To help these companies progress, they have to take into account two critical factors:
1. A positive wake-up call
Pascal: “If we compare China’s ambition with that of Belgium, it is evident that China has a stronger will to make a difference on a global level.”
“In Belgium, businesses often focus on discussing the challenges posed by innovations, and in China on discussing solutions. The latter requires courage and a strong will to realize ambitions. That’s where China stands out, and Belgian companies must have a positive wake-up call.”
2. Focus and ecosystem
In China, companies always establish themselves in geographical areas with specific expertise and ecosystem. “If you go to Alibaba in Hangzhou, you will notice that most people in this city are working in e-commerce. In Belgium, we need to do the same: decide what our expertise is, and how to profile ourselves with it in the world,” says Pascal.
The focus on developing solutions, sharing knowledge and experience, is an essential part of the Chinese culture. Companies in China recognize that being part of an ecosystem is an investment in the future. A large company often creates a new department when they decide to work with a start-up. In other words, Chinese companies are part of an ecosystem and use it to profile themselves in the market. That is what companies in Belgium have to apply more.
“By demonstrating the Chinese business world to entrepreneurs, I want to inspire and challenge them to take a critical look at their thinking about innovation.”
Applying China’s innovative power
Pascal’s drive encouraging business leaders to implement China’s innovation approach in their organization is one of the reasons for his book ‘China’s New Normal.’ Entrepreneurs often ask him: how are we going to do that? He answers this question by giving lectures, workshops, and organizing innovation tours to China. “We have to be open to using China’s innovative power, that is my opinion. I find it strange that companies go to Silicon Valley for funding, but not to China. So, during the China innovation tour, we visit companies like Tencent, and also a selection of start-ups, scale-ups, and unicorns mentioned in my book.”
“By demonstrating the Chinese business world to entrepreneurs, I want to inspire and challenge them to take a critical look at their thinking about innovation. I often notice that they have better insight and more confidence when we come back from a China Innovation tour. It helps them to implement business changes, based on the innovative power they experienced in China.”
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