TUS-Holdings President Yuan speaks on innovative uses of space

By Louis Goldsmith•05 Jun, 2018

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Wei Yuan speaking about TUS-Holdings at MIT on Friday, June 1

Wei Yuan, President of TUS-Holdings, spoke with a group of MIT students, faculty and affiliates about her company’s efforts to establishing innovation ecosystems on Friday, June 1. Over 30 people attended Yuan’s talk which covered a wide variety of topics ranging from China’s innovation strategies over the past 40 years to one million square meter Science Cities that TUS-Holdings has built across China. The talk was hosted by MIT’s China Future Cities Lab (CFC), which is dedicated to researching, impacting and solving China’s 21st century urban challenges.

Yuan began her talk by highlighting the parallels between TUS-Holdings’ exponential growth since its creation in 1994 and that of China, which began its current push towards innovation and entrepreneurship in 1978. TUS currently owns 300 accelerators across China and runs science parks at universities in 31 provinces, including its flagship Tsinghua Science Park.

The science park model fosters the unique potential of space specifically created for innovation, with the combination of students, professors, alumni, and the support of the local government and those running the science park allowing for an optimally innovative atmosphere. This model, which allows the creators to keep more than 2/3 of the intellectual property, has drawn more than 800 companies since its founding in 1994.

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Liu Bo presented TusStar's venture capital strategy

Yuan, who also serves on the Advisory Board of the CFC, explained TUS-Holding’s business model which involves recruiting science and technology industry companies as shareholders and using their innovation experience to mentor startups currently in TUS-owned incubators. TUS currently owns 120 incubators and 20 science parks and cities across China, with plans to expand them into a larger multinational global innovation network.

According to Yuan, the science parks not only provide the companies housed within with financial support and physical space, but also connections to outside fundraising and the government to ease their process of growth.

“As the CFC continues to envision different models of efficient and innovative urbanization in China, the unique, powerful and effective vision expounded by TUS-Holdings is inspiring,” said Siqi Zheng, Faculty Director of the CFC. “We are always searching for innovative partners who share our dedication to tackling China’s urban challenges.”

After Yuan spoke, Liu Bo, Deputy General Manager of TusStar and General Manager of TusStar Venture, spoke about the TUS-Holdings’ endeavors in venture capital. TusStar is one of the top angel investor firms in China, and has seen remarkable success with over half of its 140 startups receiving external funding. TusStar helps guide the startups in which they invest through a seven-step process, from conception to IPO, which allows them to thrive in their industry.

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Yuan, Zheng and other TUS-Holdings executives together after Zheng presented Yuan with a certificate of appreciation for her service on the CFC's Advisory Board

TusStar’s success has stemmed in part from their commitment to balancing investment in pure innovations which do not immediately have industrial use with immediately applicable innovations which can be quickly adopted by industries. TusStar considers a firm’s technological innovations, their employee’s experience in the field, the timing and the ecosystem of the innovation to determine the best investments.

“Hearing TusStar’s criteria for investment was particularly helpful to the teams participating in the China Future City Innovation Connector (FCIC) we are running with DesignX,” Zheng said. “As they prepare for their trip to China in July, gaining an understanding of what drives investment in their new environment is vitally important.”

After the talk, the students in attendance had the opportunity to ask questions to Yuan, Liu, and other TUS-Holdings executives. Many inquired about how TUS-Holdings made their decisions about the best location for future investments. Yuan answered that by considering other industries present in an area as well as the government’s priorities for development, TUS-Holdings could deem whether a certain location is a good fit for a new development. However, TUS-Holdings also takes into account considerations beyond just what already exists.

“We scrutinize not only the presence of current industry and government priorities, but also how it will affect the people,” Yuan said, before posing a question to the students in the audience. “How will you help develop cities to improve people’s lives in the future?”

At the end of the event, Zheng presented Yuan with a certificate of appreciation for her service on the Advisory Board of the CFC.

“We could not be more grateful to have such an intelligent, innovative, and committed advisor guiding us,” Zheng said. “We are proud of the strong relationship between TUS and the CFC and we are excited for what the future holds.”