New connector helps faculty, student startups launch in China

A new collaboration between MIT and Tsinghua University will help startup teams from both institutions launch ventures to solve urban challenges in China.

The China Ventures Workshop will provide participants with training, mentoring, and access to partners and resources that could help deliver their innovations to the market in China. The workshop is a joint project of the China Future City Lab in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the DesignX venture accelerator in the School of Architecture and Planning, and Tsinghua University. The deadline to apply for the China Ventures Workshop is March 4.

At MIT, the workshop is open to entrepreneurial teams with at least one member drawn from the MIT community, including faculty, students, researchers, and alumni. The workshop will take place in Beijing and three other cities, from July 1-14, 2018. Selected teams will receive training in Chinese city planning and economics prior to the workshop, and will have the opportunity to stay on afterward to pilot their innovations at test sites in partner cities and with companies. All expenses will be paid by the program.

“China has an acute need for urban innovation, yet it can be difficult for U.S. ventures to enter China,” says Siqi Zheng, faculty director of the China Future City Lab and Samuel Tak Lee Associate Professor of Real Estate Development and Entrepreneurship. “Working with Tsinghua University, the lab’s Future City Innovation Connector provides entrepreneurs with the knowledge they will need to navigate in China while also connecting them with a network of partners who can help them bring their startups to bear on the challenge of cities.”

The MIT-Tsinghua collaboration will offer distinct advantages to the participants from both institutions, Zheng says. Teams from MIT will get specialized instruction on operating in China, from setting up a company, to navigating legal or government issues, to understanding the landscape of political economy, and local cultural, social, and business environments. For Tsinghua participants, exposure to MIT’s strengths in innovation and entrepreneurship will improve their ability to form home-grown companies for tackling urban issues in China and beyond.

The workshop is co-organized by DesignX, an entrepreneurship center in the School of Architecture and Planning. “DesignX is dedicated to accelerating innovation in design, cities, and the built environment,” says Dennis Frenchman, the faculty director for DesignX and Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Design and Planning. “We’re excited to share our unique model with urban entrepreneurs seeking to make an impact in China.”

Deadline to apply: March 4, 2018, for inquiries: