Panintelligence trade mission to China: Day 1-5
Monday 17th September signalled the first day of the event, which took place at the British Embassy in Beijing. The Greater Manchester Economic Impact Study Launch was attended by UK dignitaries – including Panintelligence's Ken Miller – and key Chinese business leaders.
Attendees discussed how the direct flights now available from Manchester China have had a positive impact on commerce, which has led to the increased possibility of partnerships between Panintelligence and Chinese businesses.
After the morning’s discussions, it was time for some B2B speed dating! This matchmaking event was brought together by the China Britain Business Council and DIT, and after “five hours of frantic discussions” as Ken Miller put it, some fantastic opportunities are now on the table.
UK Healthcare Delegation presentation
Ken then travelled from Beijing to Tianjin, to present Pi Analytics' benefits to the Healthcare industry to an audience at the UK Healthcare Delegation. This generated even more interest in Panintelligence and it was great to present alongside fellow Leeds-based business, TPP.
Staying in Tianjin, it’s the start of the World Economic Forum, where there’s the opportunity to meet with leading Chinese and international businesses. Also, the Tianjin Government will be present along with their policy makers.
Lastly, Panintelligence will be attending a British Start-up Networking event hosted by Andy Burnham – Mayor of Greater Manchester – and Matt Hancock – Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
Ken and the rest of the UK delegates were up early to register at the World Economic Forum, all fuelled by coffee.
Ken and the rest of the Manchester delegation all met together to say their good mornings, then took the opportunity to meet and network.
The event hosted a series of very interesting presentations about Chinese entrepreneurs and internet blogging celebrities. However, the morning's activities went all too fast at the WEF, and Ken left in the afternoon to present Panintelligence at Tianjin University. Tianjin University has strong ties with Manchester University and has a very strong research pedigree in AI technology.
In the evening, the Manchester delegates attended the WEF official soiree, which was an amazing evening of music, dancing, and street food. The evening finished late with James Blackwood, Li Yao, Philameana, and Rhys getting to talk to Andy Burnham - Mayor of Greater Manchester - though the conversation mostly revolved around football!
Due to Chinese traffic, Ken spent two hours travelling eight miles on a bus back to the WEF. Today was the opening speech and the delegates had the honour of listening to a speech from Premier of PRC, Li Keqiang.
The speech centred on removing barriers to trade, working in partnership, and China moving to protect Chinese and foreign IP, which was heartening given the talk of trade sanctions and protectionism elsewhere in the world.
Straight after, the delegates went to hear Mayor Andy Burnham and Secretary of State Matt Hancock debating with European leaders about Brexit - why it happened and what happens next. Anne Maria Mettler - Head of the European Political Strategy Centre - remarked that it was the "sadest day for the EU when Britain voted to leave, and that we would be missed."
Andy Burnham stated that now three things needed to happen.
1. Maximise access to Europe for Britain.
2. Cities are the new engines of the economy. Trust cities to build new relationships.
3. Prioritise key sectors. Get back to what caused Brexit and don’t think that globalisation is recognised as a positive word. Too many people have been left behind. Stop the race to the bottom, back companies that treat people well, and support traditional industries as well.
After lunch, Ken attended three seminars. The first was about data block chain and AI in agriculture. Then came a debate about world food future. Should we all stop eating meat?
Finally, a debate about avoiding social bias in data used for AI predictions. Now the Manchester delegation has split in two, as Ken and several others returned to Beijing on the bullet train, while our friends have gone to Shenzhen to follow previous business leads.
The time had to come for Ken to leave the World Economic Forum and Tianjin behind. But before he did so, he managed to relish some free time and enjoy this wonderful city. Ken spent the morning walking down the river side, watching the locals fishing and swimming in the heart of the city.
Philomena Chen - Head of Asia Pacific, UK Department for International Trade - accompanied Ken on his mission out of Tianjin, which was more difficult than he could have expected! "We had to stand in five separate queues before we managed to get the right ticket. I would never have left Tianjin without help", he said.
The two of them rode the bullet train. "Wow, amazing, so fast. It felt like being in an aeroplane as it accelerates down the runway but then never takes off", Ken Miller.
It took 23 minutes to go 85 miles, whereas on the bus, the same distance took two and a half hours. We then arrived in Beijing, and got a taxi to our hotel.
Ken was then able to enjoy some free time in the city. He went to the silk market and haggled; he thought he got a good price, but the Panintelligence staff suspect otherwise...
Then, as is the habit in China, they had a quick change of plan. Ken met up with a lawyer to discuss IP protection and the steps required to start to trade in China, which has given us lots to think about. Tomorrow is the final day; highlights will include to Tiananmen Square Square and the Forbidden Palace.
After a week of work, Ken could now enjoy some free time and some of China's most famous sights.
"Up for breakfast. I'm going to miss noodles and Chinese dumplings for breakfast back at home."
Ken and Philomena took the subway to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden Palace.
"I gave security quite a scare with the banana I had in my pocket - nothing sinister, just my lunch."
Kite flying has been banned in Tiananmen Square, reports Ken. So, it was straight into the Forbidden Palace, after a few photos outside.
Ken and Philomena then continued through into Jingshan Gardens and climbed up to the pavilion. This provided them with a fantastic view of the Forbidden City and across beyond Beijing. They then took the subway back to town, and had a traditional Chinese afternoon tea, before stumbling across a student requirement fair hosted by Durham University at the Jen Hotel.
While taking a break, Ken used WeChat to video call the office, as he'd missed our lovely faces so much. Then it was time to commence the last meeting of the trip, which was with Sebastian Lim, who runs See Forest. He’s very well connected and has helped arrange many of our meetings. He’s a food importer and is currently helping to start the Iceland franchise in China.
Final Thoughts from Ken
"And that’s it! I'm now sitting st Beijing Airport waiting for our direct Hainan Airlines flight to Manchester. I'm excited to be coming home but I'll miss the amazing atmosphere and culture of China.
I’d like to thank everyone involved in helping us organise this trip. It’s been tiring, hard work, but we’ve made some solid connections that we look forward to in the future."