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Experts say Chinese, Australian economies lie in innovation, cooperation in future

Editor: zhenglimin 丨Xinhua

03-23-2017 19:29 BJT

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SYDNEY, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Innovation and new technology are at the core of Chinese and Australian economies in the future, and cooperation is highly beneficial as both countries are undertaking economic transitions, experts said.

Laurie Pearcey, executive director of the University of New South Wales International, told Xinhua that he believed more young Australian entrepreneurs would go to China to start up businesses, and vice verse.

Given Australia's capacity to deliver world-class research across a number of key areas of huge relevance to China's economy, there's massive potential to achieve mutually beneficial win-win outcomes, Pearcey said.

Much-needed investment, development and research in things like "new energy, pharmaceuticals, big data, the Internet of things and also practical challenges like how China's pension fund system would evolve to meet the needs of China's aging population, are the sort of things that represent a key part of Australia's and China's shared future," he said.

Australian entrepreneur Pete Cooper echoed these remarks, saying that the next generation of technology producers coming out of China would be fascinating, because "they are outward-looking, used to Western lifestyles through social media and very well placed to spot opportunities for cooperation in business."

Companies like e-commerce giant Alibaba were already working to create jobs among Australia's diverse collection of small to medium business enterprises, he said. "Australia is fortunate to have such a deep cultural and commercial relationship with China."

The outward-looking businessman has spent over a decade doing all he could to promote the startup technology sector from his home base in Sydney.

After years of living and working with banking and software firms in Asia, Cooper decided to refocus his efforts to build a culture of innovation in Australia.

At the moment, his mentoring network, Start Society, supports over 350 new technology businesses nationwide with a platform devoted to drive Aussie innovators.

Despite the positive outlook, Cooper believed there's still more to be done.

"It seems the mining boom was perhaps too comfortable for Australia, it didn't make us hungry enough," he said.

"I don't think we're lacking in vision, but we are probably lacking in political appetite. We're not as confident as the policy makers in China," he added.

"There are small pockets in government now, at state level and federally, that are starting to get it but the kangaroo hasn't jumped yet, we're just taking small hops," he said.

But that appears to be changing with a heightened level of recent cooperation between the two countries.

In an article for the Australian Financial Review Thursday, Malcolm Turnbull wrote "I am delighted the first Australian start-ups arrived at the Innovation Landing Pad in Shanghai in February, connecting them to Chinese investors, technology and markets."

"And at the Torch Innovation Precinct at the University of New South Wales, Chinese and Australian companies will draw on Australian research expertise in fields as diverse as energy storage, solar cells and material science to develop and commercialize pioneering products," he wrote.

Although progress has been made at the top levels of the government, Cooper believed it's at the grassroots level where cooperation and innovation truly flourish.

The process of validating ideas through mentoring networks and peer-to-peer learning hubs was vital to the success of new innovations and tech startups, Cooper said.

"It's not just about government support and throwing money at the problem. If you're hyper-connected through a hub, you're closer to everything you need. Talent, funding, ideas, the toolbox is just closer and I think historically this is something China has had as a major strength," he said.

Since startup models were quite different from usual business models, peer learning would get people the best practices, he added.

Despite the difficulties Australia face, its potential for developing global businesses is immense.

"We are one of the most diverse nations in the world, you can get about 150 languages on the east coast of Australia, so if you want to build a global product and get a team that can help you, it's an incredible place," Copper said.

As the challenges of transition to a new economy grow for both countries, so do opportunities for business, innovation and technology.

"The backbone of the trade relationship at the moment is still mining and energy products," James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australian-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, told Xinhua.

"That's fine, it's not going to go away, but it's probably not going to grow much, but the growth areas are in services and in innovation."

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