Towards the end of June, I was invited to participate in the Second IP Monetization and Commercialization Forum, organized by WOTIP and held in Suzhou, China. This was followed by partnering meeting in Guangzhou. I got to work directly with the individuals at WOTIP, who were phenomenal and a pleasure to work with. The forum itself was successful and well attended. And, you could tell that the Chinese business community and the regional governments are seriously committed (take a look at the declaration) to technology based economic development. It is clear that there is an increased respect and appreciation for intellectual property rights. This could not be more evident based on the discussions we had in the forum and off-line during breaks and meals.
Meeting with and eating meals with Boon Xie, the president of WOTIP; QuFu Tian, Mayor of Suzhou; Xu Gang, CEO NHCCD, Zhou Jianhui,Deputy District Chieg and Xie Qiang Director of Government Affairs at NHCCD; Huang Ji, Director of the Science & Technology Bureau; Zhi Suping, Director General of the Intellectual Property Office of Jiangsu Province; Edmont Rao, Vice President WOTIP, and others was a great experience. It exposed us to many different delicacies of the region and introduced us to the tradition of going around the table to toast your guests. A great way to establish ties and make friends and have dinner at one of the oldest restaurants in the city (over 200 years old).
As part of the forum, we toured the BioBay and BioTop facilities in Suzhou where we met with companies and researchers, and gained a better understanding of the types of facilities and resources that are being dedicated to the efforts of transitioning the economy. The facilities included state-of-the-art labs and small animal facilities as well as facilities and companies to help startups develop drugs, from modeling to pilot scale manufacturing. All quite impressive.
The last two days were spent in Guangzhou, where WOTIP is headquartered. WOTIP arranged partnering meetings for technologies that had been provided to them. I had the opportunity to meet with three companies and discuss some technologies in detail, which hopefully would result in some licenses. We had dinner with Amy Chan, Co-founder and Director of WOTIP and were again treated to wonderful cuisine which was very different than that we had in Suzhou.
What I learned from all of this, is that while there is a huge desire and hunger for technology, the level of understanding how universities in the US and EU operate is growing; that, there is a an increasing respect for intellectual property rights; there are many opportunities for entrepreneurs (especially of Chinese heritage); and, just like anywhere else, if you connect with the right people, doing business is relatively easy. WOTIP and Apio now have a relationship to assist each other in their respective efforts to source technologies and find licensees.