Australia a leader in supporting startups in China through Landing Pads program

On 22 August, Austrade Trade Commissioner Shanghai (Innovation) Karen Surmon and Shanghai Landing Pad Manager Daniel Zhan introduced the Australian Landing Pads program at an innovation roundtable to Consulates-General in Shanghai representing a number of OECD countries.

The roundtable was hosted at WeWork by Holland Innovation Network, part of the Consulate-General of the Netherlands, as an inaugural gathering of Innovation, Technology, Science, Research and Trade representatives. 

The event attracted attendees from 17 OECD countries and the Shanghai Innovation Technology Centre (STIC), the municipal governing body of technology incubators and accelerators in Shanghai. The discussion focused on the policies, opportunities and challenges faced by foreign startups in China.


Cathy Zheng, Vice Director for STIC’s Exchange and Cooperation Department, shared the Chinese Government’s innovation and entrepreneurship-supporting policy framework. Lijun Zhang, Project Leader from Swissnex China, shared Switzerland’s experience hosting its annual entrepreneurial mission to China, and the services it provides startups and tech SMEs.

Surmon and Zhan shared the scoping process, strategic thinking and operational objectives of the Shanghai Landing Pad. The presentation was followed by an active Q&A session covering a number of challenges faced by government agencies administering such a program. Only five other countries – Finland, the Netherlands, Israel, Italy and Switzerland – have conducted events or grant-based programs in China to support startups from their home countries.

“It was evident through the roundtable discussion that Australia’s establishment of the Shanghai Landing Pad, and our proactive engagement in the startup ecosystem over the past 18 months has put us well ahead of other foreign governments in this space,” says Surmon.

“This finding reconfirmed our understanding that the Landing Pad in Shanghai is the first foreign federal government-led facility and program focused on supporting startups in China,” adds Zhan.

This leading position has garnered significant attention and support from the Chinese Government, and now broad applause from fellow Consulates-General.

As a part of the Chinese Mass Entrepreneurship & Innovation Week in late September, Austrade will host the second gathering of Consulates-General at the Landing Pad, for the Shanghai Forum on Supporting International Entrepreneurship. Co-hosted with the Shanghai Municipal Government, this Forum will involve several Chinese incubators and accelerators that are working with foreign startups, and teams from the second and third cohorts of the Shanghai Landing Pad.

For more information get in contact with Shanghai Landing Pad Manager Emily Ma.