Eyes on China

Published Jul 3, 2019

China is now New Zealand’s largest trading partner, with two-way trade recently exceeding $30 billion dollars. New Zealand and China’s co-operation is growing across the board, expanding well beyond traditional milk powder and meat products, and into the areas of science and innovation.

Viclink is playing an integral part in that growth as Hamish Findlay—Viclink’s General Manager, Commercialisation—discovered on a recent trip to China to meet the people and companies involved in Viclink’s commercialisation activities there.

“We’ve got strong, established networks in China that are proving invaluable to opening up scientific, technological and investment activities between our two countries,” says Hamish, pictured right. 

The whirlwind trip encompassed four cities in just four days: Shanghai, then Suzhou and Nanjing (both in the Jiangsu province), and finally Guangzhou (capital of the Guangdong province) where Victoria University of Wellington also has strong relationships relating to student recruitment.

Hamish says he particularly enjoyed visiting Viclink’s home in the newly relocated NZ-China Innovation Centre in Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), a 288 sq km development park aimed at encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship in high-tech industries. The setup of the Innovation Centre was spearheaded by Viclink several years ago, to support the operation of New Zealand-headquartered sci-tech enterprises in China—including the company’s KiwiNet partners—with a particular focus on bio-medicine, nanotechnology, new materials and new-generation information technology.  At the heart of the NZ-China Innovation Centre is the joint venture between Viclink and Suzhou Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica—known as Biolink—which enables Viclink to undertake business activities in China and to directly contract with Chinese entities. 

“We’ve been given access to labs and office space, allowed to take advantage of Chinese incentives and to contract across borders,” says Hamish. “It’s the perfect spot to land mature technology projects into one of China’s largest and most successful industrial parks.” 

Peter Lai—Viclink’s Senior Commercialisation Manager, International (pictured left)—accompanied Hamish on the trip, introducing him to his network of key stakeholders, potential investors and officials from the Chinese government. They also met with New Zealand government officials based in China including Andrew Robinson (the New Zealand Consul-General) and Mike Roger (Consul) at the New Zealand Consulate in Shanghai—and were escorted for much of the trip by Clinton Watson, the Science and Innovation Counsellor for the New Zealand Embassy Beijing, whose status in China helped to enhance engagement during the visit. 

“What we’re doing is a win-win for both countries,” says Hamish. “Our work at the Innovation Centre supports both the New Zealand and the Chinese Governments’ commitment to grow high-value manufacturing sectors and encourage green technologies; from Victoria University of Wellington’s point of view, it enables us to get significant investment into the commercialisation of certain projects while retaining or building on activities in New Zealand, and it gives us invaluable access to the Chinese market.”