Knowledge economy is mobile by nature and, consequently, always looking for more territories. Beijing’s industrial role, for example, is growing increasingly closer to Silicon Valley’s, though it hasn’t replaced it just yet. The San Francisco area enjoys the combination of creativity and prestigious academic institutions, industrial and technological growth, military orders and environmental awareness.
These elements are potentially present in China as well, as China has already proved to be more than just a worldly manufacturing center. Emerging as the international magnet over the past decades, China managed to build a strong electronic industry enabling a virtuous cycle between its R&D, manufacturing and sales. This progress brought about social changes as well, as China enjoys first position as today’s leading country in mobile and net browsing usage.
Although these technological advancements are taking place throughout the country, Beijing’s current historical district Zhongguancun, still holds a pivotal role. Governmental influence and large research centers such as CASS (China Academy for Social Sciences) determine the sector’s emergence and gave birth to Legend/Lenovo.
Government sets the standards for China’s computer technology sectors, thus rendering Beijing a strong economic destination for more than 50 percent of Chinese venture capital firms and investments. The fostering of foreign technologies combined with the increase of local engineers has led to the IT sector’s significant progress.
Ironically, its rapid growth is also a major issue for China: lack of domestic innovation is its underlying set-back in relation to its IT progress. Alone, China’s venture capital market accounts for $3-4 billion per year, a colossal amount as compared to that of Europe for example. However, China still needs to catch up, especially by promoting human resources in other more advanced technological sectors.
As a shortcut, China finds it at times more convenient to further its IT services development abroad, and specifically in Silicon Valley even though large budgets and more normative-driven working environments are granted to international specialists in China. Furthermore, Chinese engineers are ready to take on computer technology as a new marketing triumph, as they work towards qualitative talents, which are a common ground between resources and creativity.
However, the search for international talent already started. China’s largest search engine, Baidu, began recruiting high-level managers specifically from Silicon Valley. Baidu promises the same compensation as its US competitors in the field (like Microsoft, Yahoo and Google). So far, the Chinese search engine wins first place in terms of Chinese users, with a soaring 60 percent of local demand. Li Yanhong, Baidu’s president, has returned to work in the Silicon Valley after ten years of founding the company – this time on a recruiting spree. He understands that having ten foreigners on a 10,000 populated corporation is still insufficient for its utmost, international success.