Welcome Speech of 2012 MIT China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum

By Xu Zhang, co-president, MIT CHIEF, at MIT CHIEF 2012 annual conference on Nov. 17

Good morning, our honored speakers, guest, audience, and each of you, welcome. Today is a great moment for us. I would like to thank each of you for your coming and sharing this great moment with us. We are delighted to have all of you here.

MIT is a place where innovative minds meet with entrepreneurship spirits. That defines the core values of MIT-CHIEF. Entrepreneurial power has been a critical engine to support America’s economic growth, and to keep America’s competitive edge.Of Fortune magazine’s Global 500 companies, one third didn’t exsit 40 years ago, and a quarter were only created over the last two decades. Many of today’s multinationals are just start-ups 10 years ago. The European Union has also embarked on an ambitious plan- the Lisbon Agenda, which aims to double the innovative entrepreneurs in Europe. Similar policy initiatives are also under way in China, a growing power on this planet.

Yet, we all value innovative entrepreneurship, and as a society, we want to encourage it, but a big question is “how”. And we believe, with all of our high-profiled speakers from academia, industry, government and international organizations, you will gain some valuable insights on this question. Our aim is to stimulate dialogue between business strategists, academic professors, policy regulators, entrepreneurs, investors and visionaries, and most importantly, you. With 8 keynote speeches, 8 panel discussions, technology exhibition and business plan contest, our conference is going to cover a wide variety of topics, spanning from venture investment to innovative enterprise, from the spirit of entrepreneurship to incubators for start-ups, from big data revolution to health care and energy. Beyond that, we are also going to show you something more vivid. That is our technology exhibition TechEX, which is an important initiative of this year’s MIT CHIEF. I hope you will all enjoy.

This year is a very critical year for China. We just experienced the leadership transition just two days ago. With a remarkable period of rapid growth in more than 3 decades. China has grown into the world’s second largest economy. With this background, now China comes to a turning point. More and more new opportunities and challenges are going to emerge during its transition period.

Innovation and entrepreneurship can play a crucial role and make a difference. On the other hand, MIT has a long tradition of entrepreneurship in its history.Many of you have already knew the interesting report written by Mr. Bill Gates, about the unprecedented achievements of MIT entrepreneurs. MIT entrepreneurs are exceptional, because of their unique perspective on risk, because of their resilience, because of their vision and passion instilled in great teams. As MIT students, we want to do something to pass on this tradition and passion. As China’s young generation, we hope to do something for our courtry and shape its future in a positive way. That’s the basic reason why we are here today, and why MIT-CHIEF was created.

But you may ask how can you differentiate yourself from other China-related conferences. What differences I can expect here? well, first of all, we love to build something real, we love to see real impact. Besides all of our amazing talks and discussions, we are always trying very hard to present you something that you can really feel and experience, and interact. For example, our technology showcase TechEX. I know one of the teams, which is called LUON Energy. They developed an adsorbed natural gas (ANG) storage technology, and make an affordable home-fueling solutions in automobiles, which can cut 60% off in your daily fuel expenses and drive clean. And more importantly, they build their own clean-energy car, and drive, literally, they were driving from Illinois to MIT by this clean energy car yesterday, for MIT-CHIEF. By saying “something real”, that is what I mean. So prepare yourself to be challenged, excited and inspired. If you are interested, stop by this afternoon, only this afternoon, in the lobby outsides this room. and btw, because so many of us travel long distance to our conference, because you care MIT-CHIEF so much, we always remind us to be humble, and do our best to make this conference excellent. Another example is our business plan contest. That is where we can align perfectly with our core values. We want to see more and more real start-ups, not just ideas, but real startups stand out with bold minds, through the platform of MIT-CHIEF. We love to stimulate young entrepreneurs to create something, to help build their momentum. Because we know if they succeed, we are making a real impact on society.

Secondly, we are fundamental believers that one of the most significant driving forces of this world is technology. So at the very beginning, when we design MIT-CHIEF, we want it to be a technology-based conference. Politics may goes forward or backwards, but technology is always shaping our future in a fundamental way.

Thirdly, because we are in Boston. Boston is the oldest city in US, as well as an internaional one. There are more than 100 colleges and universities here. And Boston has been ranked no.1 as most innovative city in 3 consecutive years. Because we have such a great talent pool, here is the perfect place to build a bridge connecting China and US, and to encourage intellectual exchange.

Last but not least, our team members. I know many of you are still busy with logistic outside this room, no matter you can hear or not, you are the very best! I enjoyed every moment working with you guys, and that’s such a great privilege. Without your efforts and talents, MIT-CHIEF would not have been possible. I feel so proud of you.

Before I handover to our our coordinator, I would like to extend our gratitude and thanks to our honored speakers and audience, welcome and I hope you will all enjoy this event. Thank you.