Innovation is by far one of the most popular buzz words of choice in our modern society. Everyone is looking for the next big thing and how to somehow be a part of it.


Whether that means investing in it (like we do here at nihub), creating it (like our awesome startups), or being the first to understand and use it, the end result is the same for us all: we are all in a constant search for something new, something fun, and something innovative. The approach to this in China, and for nihub, isn’t to create a template for this innovation and creativity. Instead, it’s to focus on where the innovation and technological advancement comes from: the people. 


Focusing on people means creating an environment, an ecosystem, and a home where entrepreneurs, creative thoughts, and innovative people can come together, collaborate, and build a better world. In China, this starts with streamlined processes and an inherent dedication to innovation policy.

Building An Ecosystem


Creating a home for entrepreneurship, tech, and innovation is easier said than done. Many cities and local governments have tried to recreate themselves into the next Silicon Valley, few have succeeded. Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, however, is an exception to that sad fate. 


Hangzhou, or specifically the city’s high-tech zone known as Binjiang District, has spent over nearly a decade and billions of yuan to creating an environment that not only supports but also breeds entrepreneurship and innovation. On the surface level, the district’s dedication to innovation is most obvious when you see that 13% of the GDP is invested back into innovation and entrepreneurship programs, grants, and subsidies to assist small companies rising through the ranks. 

An easy question to start wondering is: Why does Hangzhou invest so much back into innovation? Because it works. In Binjiang’s high-tech zone, you can find a plethora of the country’s (and the world’s) largest companies headquartered with a 5km radius. This includes the likes of Alibaba, Geely (who now owns Volvo), Netease, HIK Vision, and the modern-day unicorn company Pingpong. 


Between massive R&D centers, grants, and programs, tax benefits, and high-level talent pools, Hangzhou is one of the few cities in the world that has successfully created a culture around innovation, talent, and entrepreneurship to attract not only young and eager techies, inexperienced entrepreneurs, and investors, but has also managed to help cultivate and maintain corporates and big business. 

Key Policies For Entrepreneurs


While every city and every district is different, it’s still important to understand the general framework that innovation policy, subsidy programs, and grants work under to see where you and your company fit into them.


The following policies are specifically aligned with Binjiang, Hangzhou’s ecosystem but likely exist to a varying degree throughout several of China’s emerging tech hubs. 


Rent Subsidy


This subsidy is accessible for the majority of tech companies and is available for up to three years. If in a traditional office space, the subsidy reimburses (after 6 – 12 months) a percentage of the cost calculated by the number of employees / square meters of the space. If in an approved co-working space, the entire fee for each desk will typically be covered. 


Talent Salary Grant


This next program supports the acquisition of high-level employees/talent into younger companies. For companies that are employing or run by individuals with Master’s or PhD(s), 40% – 60% of the salary for these employees can be reimbursed via this grant program. 


Innovative Project Grant


Coming from the same department/policy as the talent salary grant above, this grant simply focuses on the project rather than the entrepreneurs and employees themselves. The key for this subsidy program is to make sure your industry matches with the local ecosystem.


In Hangzhou, key focus industries remain to be AI, Big Data, IoT, and Smart-city tech. Thus, projects focusing on these verticals are more likely to receive this type of support from the city or district government. 


Research & Development Grant


Last, but certainly not least, comes the R&D subsidies we all know and love. Over the last few years, China has put a big push on technological innovation and these grants centered around R&D are exactly how they intend to become the true leader of the tech world. 


In Binjiang, Hangzhou these policies take form in the shape of an RMB 5M – 10M grant that is awarded to startups and innovators using new technology to solve some of the world’s most pressing concerns, often in CleanTech, environmental research, SmartCity, etc. 

How These Policies Can Help You


While understanding these policies and the framework they work under is important, something even more important is to know how YOU can take advantage of them. 


Knowing which grants/programs to apply for, how to ensure you meet the prerequisites, and how to through the entire approval process, is essential to actually access the great opportunity that comes along with government policy support. 


For more specific info on how to learn about, apply, and receive these grant/subsidies, send an e-mail to today and we’ll work with you wherever possible to get the funding and support you need to hit the ground running in the Chinese market.