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Insights | Education, intrapreneurship and kissing the right frog

BritCham / CBBC
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How UK education and business are fuelling mass innovation and entrepreneurship in China
Sector Insights: Education & Talent Development
By Simon Stewart
Sector Lead for Education, Training & Talent
China-Britain Business Council
China’s double-digit growth over the past decades has produced a stronger economy and has made China an important contributor to the world. Yet this level of growth is not sustainable and has been at a cost. High consumption of energy and raw materials, environmental issues and an unequal distribution of wealth and opportunities have put pressure on China’s economic and social infrastructure.
In addition, the end of the demographic dividend of large quantities of cheap labour has eroded China’s traditional competitive advantage and has left businesses in China looking for new ways to sustain business and economic growth.
But the “new normal”, as this economic climate is known, is not just an era of slower growth. It signifies the development of a new type of Chinese economy that faces a new set of economic and social challenges to which there is no easy answer. The solution, according to a Chinese government work report in March this year, is the development of popular entrepreneurship and mass innovation.
These so-called “twin engines” of growth are designed not only to drive sustainable economic growth but also to solve some of the major environmental, demographic and social challenges that China faces in the next decade.
Business in China has embraced innovation and entrepreneurship and it is not difficult to find widely publicised examples of great Chinese entrepreneurs and technical innovations. China clearly has the talent. However, to create a sustainable economy and provide more opportunities in key industry areas will require a greater effort. 
The challenge is to widen the talent pool to have a greater number of entrepreneurs starting new businesses or bringing a new entrepreneurial mindset into traditional industries. It requires not well-publicised individual innovations but a broad group of creative minds and critical thinkers.
Embedding a new corporate culture of intrapreneurship
At a recent forum in Shanghai, CBBC members from the fields of education, training and HR discussed how UK education providers and businesses in China could work together to create a pipeline of “intrapreneurs” and how companies could embed a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within their organisation. Clearly, fostering mass entrepreneurship and innovation creates an extra layer of complexity that requires a new approach to talent development. 
The UK has a long history of collaboration with industry both academically and in research and development to create talent fit for the needs of modern business and innovative, commercially viable solutions that can have an impact on business and society.
Members of CBBC, including Pearson, the British Council, King’s College London, Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University, the University of Nottingham Ningbo, the University of Central Lancashire, Manchester Business School and Leeds University, have dedicated resources to building academic and business bridges between the UK and China. They are helping to build the foundation of talent from which Chinese popular entrepreneurship and mass innovation can grow.
CBBC is also playing its part in the development of entrepreneurship in China through its partnership with the Chinese Service Centre for Scholarly Exchange and the promotion of the Chunhui Cup, a competition that encourages Chinese students in the UK to develop entrepreneurial skills and to build new businesses in China, which is co-sponsored by the Chinese Ministries of Education and Science & Technology. (The finalists of the ninth annual cup will be announced later this year. See: http://www.cbbc.org/sectors/the-chunhui-cup.) 
This type of collaborative initiative between business, universities and graduates is an important step to improving the employability of Chinese graduates and fostering an innovative mindset and a pool of talented entrepreneurs. 
You have to kiss many frogs before you find a prince
One key observation from CBBC’s recent education and HR workshop was that just having entrepreneurial and innovative talent in companies was important, but it alone was not enough to deliver the results required in the market. Both Chinese and overseas businesses need to create a culture which encourages and empowers individuals to create, innovate and build on new business ideas. 
Successful ventures rarely stem from the first idea but from a process of idea generation, debate, experimentation, failure, learning and eventual success. Creating an environment that encourages this takes advanced skills in leadership, teamwork and critical analysis. 
Our forum explored new ways of collaboration that encourage critical thinking and managing positive conflict to create new ideas. Discussion centred on the “human” aspect of motivating team members with the understanding that there will be many ideas that fail – “the frogs” – before the team can create an economically viable one – “the prince”.
The one area in which we are certain that China cannot afford to fail is in the delivery of popular entrepreneurship and mass innovation. The era of the new normal and the environmental, social and demographic challenges that China faces demand it.  
CBBC members are rising to this challenge by working closely with Chinese organisations to form a pipeline of talent that is right for UK-China business and will help drive China through the new normal era. Many of CBBC’s education members provide outstanding talent development programmes which can help individuals and businesses. 
The next education and HR workshops will take place in Beijing on 22 September and in Chengdu on 13 October. 
For more information, please contact the author, Simon Stewart, CBBC’s sector lead for education, training and talent in China (simon.stewart@cbbc.org.cn) or Nathalie Cachet-Gaujard, our sector lead in the UK (nathalie.cachet-gaujard@cbbc.org).
文:司徒谋(Simon Stewart)
欲了解更多信息,请联系本文作者司徒谋(simon.stewart@cbbc.org.cn)或Nathalie Cachet-Gaujard(nathalie.cachet-gaujard@cbbc.org),他们分别是英中贸易协会教育、培训与人才领域在华和在英的负责人。
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