[Insights] Shanghai: The Pioneering Panacea for Enterprise


For many people China encompasses countless adventures, possibilities, and opportunities; and this is especially the case for those with ambition. From this metropolitan spectacle you cannot help but notice a prepossessing panorama of an ecosystem rapidly cultivating growth, enterprise, and innovation, the scale of which has become beyond sight and comprehension. 

Shanghai offers a great deal to aspiring entrepreneurs, featuring the best international start-up climate in China, a proven pro-enterprise local government, huge venture capital presence and substantial business infrastructure and market opportunities. Shanghai is the epitome of Chinese opportunity; this blog will help you tap into them with useful information and answer the question of “why should I expand my business to Shanghai?”. 


World’s Top 10 Innovation Centers:

Shanghai is a rising innovation hub not only in China but in the world, with a growth index of 7, which is higher than Silicon Valley’s growth index of 6. 

Shanghai boasts a super start-up ecosystem possessing more than 300 incubators alongside a plethora of entrepreneurial guidance centers and communities. This is an innovation ecosystem that no other cities, such as Tokyo and London, possess. With all the technological and financial support available, more and more startups and scaleups are choosing Shanghai. 

Shanghai hosts over thousands of global and national innovative events and competitions that feature experts and key figures who can provide insights and opportunities in various business elements such as financing and recruiting. There are excellent co-working opportunities which are customizable to a startup’s industry and preferences, helping the startups to get ahead and network in their own space with like-minded innovators. 

Shanghai also has pro-innovation policies by optimizing the business environment and enhancing the efficiency of government services. The local municipal government has made it easier for entrepreneurs to move in and start businesses with a new responsive and efficient intellectual property center, streamlined bureaucracy, easy residency policies, and more fundraising channels for foreign businesses being established, with some foreign companies even getting listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.


China’s Top Financial Centre:

Shanghai has a very impressive mix of global corporate innovation, startup co-working and investment hubs that helps startups connect dreams to innovation. With a supportive ecosystem, acquiring funding from VCs and the government is also substantially easier compared to other cities in China. 

The world’s biggest corporations are looking at China’s Big Apple. With its elaborate infrastructure, favorable policies and extensive services, Shanghai has attracted larger and larger foreign-funded projects that use the latest technology. Statistics show that through September, nearly 300 Fortune 500 enterprises have invested in 5,567 of projects in Shanghai, and the contracted funds amounted to US$10.97 billion in 2018. 

Shanghai is the focal point within the broader prospering Chinese ecosystem. Shanghai’s growth is higher than the national average, and moreover gets more investment than many other parts of China. The whole country altogether in the first half of 2018 received 47% of all VC dollar volume. Shanghai’s ambitious government aims to make Shanghai a global technological innovation hub by 2030. 


China’s Most International and Diverse Work Demographic:

Shanghai is China’s most competitive job market for international talents, with skilled and experienced workers moving to Shanghai to access cutting edge opportunities in their field, and the very same opportunities are driving highly-educated international Chinese students to return to China from their studies. Springer Nature, a global academic publisher, conducted a survey last year to over 650 of the world’s top tier scientists on the most attractive city they wanted to work in, and the results indicated that Shanghai was the most desirable city to work in China, ranking before Beijing, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong.

As the leading city in the Yangtze River Delta region, Shanghai is a destination city for the best institutes and university students in the region. Not to mention that the Yangtze River Delta region has the best education resources in China – 20% of China’s top 100 universities are located in the region. Significant HR corporations such as Randstad are based in Shanghai in order to tap into the most competitive talents. 


China’s Most Internationalized Metropolis

Shanghai has China’s best infrastructure to support business growth. Up to 2018, Shanghai is home to the China regional headquarters of 674 multinational corporations, and 90 serve as Asia-Pacific regional headquarters. 

Shanghai is the most cosmopolitan city in China, with ¼ of China’s total foreign population working, studying, and living in Shanghai. More than 215,000 expats from 167 countries chose Shanghai to be their second home. This is no coincidence Shanghai is constantly improving its accessibility as part of its efforts to become a prosperous and innovative ecosystem. Entrepreneurs can avoid culture shock and confusion with Shanghai’s ‘plug-in and go’ culture. In 2018, Shanghai was ranked #1 in English proficiency in all of China, making the city more accessible to aspiring entrepreneurs. Shanghai is an exciting blend of East and West and is a modern city that has been dubbed the ‘Oriental Paris’. 


A Great Business Opportunity:

Shanghai provides a great market for start-ups with not only a 25 million strong consumer base, but also one with the highest purchasing power in China. Therefore, achieving sales through fulfilling a niche in Shanghai can create monolithically different revenues compared to doing the same thing in one’s home market, and the local ecosystem makes it easier than elsewhere to setup the capital and processes for this. Shanghai is also at the vanguard of openness in China, with Shanghai pioneering the first Free Trade Zone in China, facilitating corporate, legal, and investment capabilities. 

With accessible urban infrastructure, an innovative business environment, efficient investor services, and diverse human capital, Shanghai scored the highest in the international attractiveness index, followed by Hong Kong and Beijing. It has rapidly developed into the pioneering panacea for enterprise and will continue to make a significant impact across the world. Entrepreneurs serious about real opportunities will have to look no further than this truly amazing city.