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UK firms supported by Chinese-backed technology fund


08-24-2016 13:08 BJT

Full coverage: G20 Hangzhou Summit

The Shanghai Innovation Competition finals will be held in Shanghai next month featuring some of the world's brightest new ideas. Two British companies are among the start-ups jostling for position, both using new technology but in very different fields. They do have one thing in common though. As China gears up to host the G20 summit, both companies are getting support from a Chinese-backed technology fund, Cocoon Networks.

This is one of the tallest buildings in London. It towers over the City skyline.

In a promotional video, start-up company Lightvert outlines how the UK capital’s Shard building can be used as the world’s biggest advertising display.

By running a tiny reflective strip, high tech images can be projected directly into people’s eyes.

The start-up’s business team uses innovative technology and contacts from Cocoon Networks to break into China, the world’s biggest market place.

"China’s obviously a very large market and a very mature and established market within digital outdoor media which is our market. Cocoon can be a very powerful strategic investor for a company like ours, because they can give us access to that market," Lightvert chief technical officer Dan Siden said.

Lightvert is one of the finalists competing in the Shanghai Innovation competition this September.

Another is Eva Diagnostics, a company that offers affordable technology with gold standard systems.

It boasts a potential to transform healthcare worldwide – with a handheld device that can read details of patients’ conditions while they are safely at home.

Again, a firm identified by Cocoon Networks meriting Chinese funding as well as introductions.

"I think contacts are by far the most important part of that. There is a lot of investment available around the globe, at the moment, especially for innovative health tech companies. I think what’s most important is tapping into the likes of Cocoon Networks to actually be able to reach the right individuals to open doors and create new opportunity," Toby Basey-Fisher, founder Eva Diagnostics, said.

The man behind Cocoon Networks, founder John Zai, sees himself as a unicorn hunter, seeking out those tech start-ups on their way to a billion dollars.

"Can you find me one or two unicorns in three year’s time. Even one, we’re going to be very successful. If in three year’s time, imagine this, Chinese investor funds a Unicorn in the UK in three year’s time, that would be very good news a very good story," Cocoon Networks founder John Zai said.

Unicorn hunting isn’t a sport you’d normally associate with the G20. Cocoon Networks though says there are similarities, building international partnerships with strong foundations.

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