We all know about Silicon Valley, Israel, Sweden, Berlin, the UK's Silicon Roundabout and the Cambridge tech cluster. These centers of technology investment and innovation get all the headlines and attract the best talent. However, we also need to pay close attention to what is happening further afield. I think it is no exaggeration to say that there is every chance that the best innovations, biggest investors and most expert tech talent pool will be coming from China over the next 20 years and beyond.
In the past few years Chinese tech firms have invested billions of dollars in companies around the world. They are targeting every type of firm, from the very biggest to the latest start-ups and this trend will only increase.
China's four largest internet companies — the BAT plus e-commerce company JD.com — have invested $5.6 billion in 48 US tech deals over the past two years, according to CBI Insights data. California took in more than three-quarters of the total U.S.-based deals by these four companies.
In the UK and Israel, major Chinese tech players like Kuang-Chi are investing heavily in start-ups, launching a $300 million fund at the end of last year.
Also in Israel there was the recent news that three Israeli-Chinese artificial intelligence technology centers are to be constructed with an initial investment of $10 million, according to an agreement signed March 20 in China by the University of Haifa, the Hangzhou Wahaha Group and the Institute of Automation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In the US, China's e-commerce leader, Alibaba, lead by Jack Ma, has been particularly active in investing in U.S. start-ups. In recent years Alibaba has led a $793 million financing round in virtual reality start-up Magic Leap, $200 million in social media company Snap, $215 million in mobile messaging app Tango, $250 million in ride-sharing app Lyft, $50 million in remote-control app Peel, $120 million in mobile gaming start-up Kabam in July, $50 million in app search engine Quixey and $206 million in subscription service ShopRunner.
All this is great news for investors and consumers. More competition will raise standards and push the greatest minds of our generation to dig even deeper to invent, develop, commercialise and perfect the technology of the future, from which we will all benefit.