More than 161 billion yuan ($23 billion) in early-stage investment helped nearly 2,000 startup companies in Beijing last year, demonstrating how the capital's preferential policies on innovation are having a positive impact on new businesses.
According to the city government, the capital in recent decades has attracted investment for 102 unicorns — startups valued at more than $1 billion that are not yet listed on a public exchange.
"A new generation of unicorns is rapidly rising in Beijing, and half of them are developing hard technologies," said Xu Jian, director of the high-tech industry promotion center of the Beijing Science and Technology Commission, and the Administrative Commission of Zhongguancun Science Park.
"In recent years, a group of young unicorns that have been established for no more than five years have emerged in the capital in fields such as artificial intelligence-assisted drug research and development, AI chips, industrial internet and commercial aerospace," he said.
Beijing HyperStrong Technology Co, a provider of energy storage systems and technology services, is one such unicorn founded in Beijing's Haidian district where Zhongguancun — known as China's Silicon Valley — is located.
Zhang Jianhui, the founder, chairman and general manager of HyperStrong, said he did not hesitate for a second to choose Haidian to establish his company when he returned from the United States in 2011.
"I went to Tsinghua University for undergraduate and postgraduate studies, then went to the US for my doctoral degree after graduation," he said. "I have deep connections with Haidian. Plus, Beijing, especially Haidian district, has a great business environment with many preferential policies that are attractive and helpful for startups. So I founded my company here."
Zhang, who spent time in Beijing's Haidian district during his college years at Tsinghua, now has his career based in the area where innovation is highly encouraged.
"The local government always plays the role of an efficient and swift problem solver when companies meet difficulties — financing or talent-wise — which I believe is one of their important merits for entrepreneurs," he added.
According to Zhang, HyperStrong has achieved extremely fast growth in the past three years.
"Since our company can help clients raise their energy storage and transmission efficiency, which echoes the current low-carbon concept, there are many opportunities both in domestic and foreign markets," he said.
Zhang said Europe and the US are the two most promising overseas markets for the business.
According to the Global Unicorn Index 2023 released by Hurun Research Institute, Beijing-based ByteDance, which was founded in 2012, is the world's most valuable unicorn for the second year running with a value of $200 billion.
Four other Chinese companies made the top 10: Ant Group, Shein, WeBank and Cainiao, which were third, fourth, sixth and 10th respectively.
Beijing, which currently has 79 unicorn companies, is ranked third among cities worldwide, following San Francisco and New York. Shanghai ranked fourth with 66.