New links could attract millions of pounds of investment from China into the local economy after a landmark conference in Bournemouth.
The ‘China Embracing Innovation’ event was hailed a great success with international speakers, civic leaders, and business people from the UK and China among the 150 delegates at the Hilton Hotel.
Bournemouth Borough Council hosted the event – the first of its kind – with Professor Richard Li-Hua and support from Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
It aimed to show that Bournemouth is open for business to Chinese investors and to encourage local business to develop trade links with China.
Dorset resident Professor Richard Li-Hua, who is the founder of ‘China Embracing Innovation’ theory and President of Camot Academy Cambridge, said: “The conference was a great success. This is just the starting point for businesses and entrepreneurs to work together to create synergy and strategic opportunity to bring inward investment from China and build a stronger economy.”
Investment could help boost infrastructure locally and support the growth of businesses and new partnerships, create jobs, as well as bolster technology innovation, cultural and sporting exchange and tourism.
Businesses and civic leaders may attend a return conference in China to develop links, while memorandums of understanding could be signed and twinning with Chinese cities considered.
Bill Cotton, who is executive director for environment and economy at Bournemouth council, said: “There is great enthusiasm in China for overseas investment. This conference was a tremendous success in showcasing Bournemouth as a welcoming, enterprising, outward looking and well-located area which is open for business.
“It also allowed us to build professional relationships which will be crucial as we seek to further develop our links with China and bring multi-million-pound potential investment into the local economy.”
The event included an informal dinner on the eve of the conference sponsored by PKF Francis Clark.
Bournemouth Mayor Derek Borthwick welcomed delegates to the conference. Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns and Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood gave opening and closing remarks.
Other speakers included AFC Bournemouth chairman Jeff Mostyn who spoke about football collaborations between the UK and China, including the club’s involvement in an innovative coaching initiative.
Other speakers included Boshu Liang, who is chief representative of the UK Office of China State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs; Outlook China vice-president Ting Wang; and Prof Guy Liu, who is head of the UK Campus of Peking University HSBC Business School.
The line-up also featured Prof Yinshan Tang, who is vice-dean (China) of Henley Business School at Reading University; Prof Xudong Gao, who is chief professor at Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University; Prof Richard Li-Hua; former mayor Cllr Eddie Coope of Bournemouth and Dr Lucy Lu, who is provost and global academic director of London School of Commerce .
Panel speakers included Keith Gymer of Stratagem IPM Ltd, James Smallwood of Kintetsu, Roger Zhang of the Huafa Group, Jamie Shaw of the China Britain Business Council, and Jamie Sergeant of This is Crowd.
As well as the Dorset Chamber, other supporters included PKF Francis Clark, Digital Storm and the China Association for Management of Technology (CAMOT) as well as Outlook China.