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Blockchain in Chinese universities – opportunities for public-private projects

20.01.2020  07:18

Blockchain is entering Chinese universities and brings opportunities for public-private collaboration – Suzhou Tongji Blockchain Research Institute is a great example. 


Tongji University – frontrunners in blockchain education

Although it is no secret that blockchain technology has gained a lot of traction in China in recent years, the technology was only recently acknowledged from official side with China’s president, Xi Jinping, throwing his weight and support behind the development and application of blockchain technology in China for the first time. Ma Xiaofeng, professor at Tongji University and President at Suzhou Tongji Blockchain Research Institute, believes that blockchain technology will have a “big impact on many industries and sectors in the future”. We interviewed him to learn more about China’s blockchain scene from a research and educational perspective.

Tongji University in Shanghai, one of the leading universities in China, has been at the forefront of promoting blockchain technology in China for a long time. As one of the earliest universities to embrace blockchain research and education in China, Tongji University is still going strong, focusing mainly on technical education as well as blockchain management. Recently, Tongji University even published a textbook for blockchain to spread to other universities across China, aiming to provide a solid foundation for future blockchain education.

Helping startups take off

To strengthen the application of blockchain technology in real life, the university has gone a step beyond and established incubators focusing on startups engaged in blockchain – one in Shanghai and one in Suzhou. The incubators not only provide space for the startups, they also provide favourable conditions for the companies to take off. Among other things, the incubators have entered into a partnership with Baowu Steel and Shanghai Bank to create a platform that provides microloans for SMEs thereby helping them to get access to funding that might otherwise prove elusive for smaller companies. Currently, this system is only available in a number of provinces, but according to Ma Xiaofeng, the ambition is to spread it nationwide.

For Ma, we are only just beginning to see the impacts of blockchain technology: “Blockchain is still a new technology and infrastructure but I believe that in 2020, we will continue to see many applications for blockchain technology be developed”. As the technology gains momentum, Ma pushes for stronger international ties in the industry. Having worked in Europe for 8 years, he realises the value that cross-national cooperation can bring and invites European blockchain startups to join the incubator: “We want our incubator to run at the highest possible international level and therefore we would be very happy to welcome European startups to come and help us create an innovative blockchain ecosystem”.

Facilitating public-private collaboration

In 2016, Tongji University and the local government of Shanghai’s neighbouring city Suzhou partnered to create the Suzhou Tongji Blockchain Research Institute. They provide services such as blockchain technology, application research and development, talent training, and business incubation. Being the only university in China that has established its own blockchain platform – the Wutong Chain, which was created in 2018 – Tongji University has positioned itself extraordinarily close to the private sector.

The Wutong Chain has been used by Chinese enterprises in logistics tracking, supply chain finance, judicial certificate storage, and other fields. The blockchain technology behind the platform ensures that data cannot be tampered with and its application is expected to be extended to other fields, including medical treatment, internet of things (IoT), and in the energy sector. As a result, the research institute is an appealing public partner for private companies from a wide range of industries.

Opportunities for Danish entrepreneurs in the Blockchain Business Bridge

Tongji University is one of the participating organisations in our network for the Blockchain Business Bridge and offers interesting possibilities for collaboration. In a series of interviews with blockchain experts, we dig into China’s emerging blockchain opportunities for Danish startups and established enterprises. Acting as a gateway to China’s thriving blockchain environment, the Blockchain Business Bridge will create synergies between blockchain ecosystems of Denmark and China.

Contact us to learn more and join the project:

Ran Zhao
ICT/FinTech Innovation Officer, Innovation Centre Denmark
(+86) 159 0184 9534, ranzha@um.dk

Ole Østrup
Head of Communications, The Danish Industry Foundation
(+45) 23 80 06 60, oos@industriensfond.dk



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