Over the last 20 years, CIC has hosted companies and government entities from numerous countries to inspire international collaboration. Today CIC is pleased to have launched its first floor dedicated to collaboration with a particular country: the China Hub in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Occupying the 12th floor of CIC’s newest building at 245 Main Street in Kendall Square, the China Hub is a specialized workplace designed to increase collaboration and growth for US companies seeking to expand to China and for teams from Chinese companies aiming to expand to the US.
Anchoring the China Hub floor is Bridge12, a new initiative that facilitates cross-border collaboration between the US and China. Managed by CUBIC Inc. in partnership with CIC and Innobridge Boston, Bridge12 provides guidance to American startups and growth companies interested in bringing products and services to Chinese markets, as well as to Chinese companies seeking to expand and hire in the US. Industries of particular interest include life science, urban tech, new materials, and clean energy.
“We’re thrilled to have launched the China Hub at 245 Main,” says CIC Founder and CEO Tim Rowe. “Our view is that China is playing an ever more important role in the world of technology, and it is critical for long-term Massachusetts competitiveness that we build strong connections to that part of the world.”
China’s economy has grown exponentially in recent years: Since 1999, the country’s GDP has exploded from $1.094 trillion to $5.11 trillion in 2009 and over $12 trillion today, making it the number two economy in the world after the US.
Already a longtime CIC resident, CUBIC has long recognized foreign companies’ desire to expand into China and take advantage of the 1.4 billion population market. However, lack of knowledge of the local Chinese market mechanics and culture represents an impactful barrier to successful entry. With its extensive Chinese roots, CUBIC serves as a local guide for companies and works with them in Boston and China to assess market entry strategies and identify potential local partners, clients, or suppliers.
One CUBIC client, a Harvard spinout that develops medical devices, worked with them to get connected with a top surgery device company in China, develop an on-the-ground team with a local partner, and to navigate local government grant opportunities. Another client, a clean energy spinout from University of Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, found its niche market through CUBIC’s China program, successfully raised funds, and went on to join the Thiel Foundation’s Breakout Labs.
Now with the new Bridge12 partnership, CUBIC believes they will be able to recruit more China-US enterprises to Kendall Square and increase the volume and scope of programming. An array of community programming has already been planned that functions both to advise and educate, as well as to help participants meet each other and potentially even work together — office hours, seminars, workshops, panels, pitch events, and monthly afternoon tea seminars featuring leadership from various corporations, each focused on a different topic or industry.
CIC houses several international soft landing programs and consultancies that help companies navigate new markets outside of their home countries. Among these is the CIC Japan Desk, which connects Boston’s and Japan’s innovation ecosystems. Thirty Japanese innovation companies now operate offices within CIC’s Boston and Cambridge campuses. However, the newly-opened China Hub is the first international business initiative in which participants specifically take residence side by side within CIC workspaces.
The power of proximity is a cornerstone of CIC’s mission to improve the world through innovation. When companies with shared interests or common values work alongside each other, they inevitably forge relationships, exchange knowledge, and build trust. This results in increased collaboration and faster innovation output.
“China has undergone incredible change, and we anticipate the coming years will bring even more change. China today has become an industrial powerhouse and is moving from a manufacturing focus to an innovation focus,” says Rowe. “It is important for both the US and China to capitalize on each other’s innovation capabilities as we jointly seek to address the problems facing the world. We’re optimistic that these efforts will deepen the possibilities between our two countries.”
Want to assess your company’s market readiness in China?
Apply to BRIDGE12’s Shanghai Week, a five-day program for startups and growth companies looking to expand into Chinese markets.
Photos by Benjamin Cheung