The high stakes of entrepreneurship is summed up by the Chinese in one word – Xiahai.
It means to “jump into the sea”.
It’s a concept Australian entrepreneur Magnus Bjornsson is taking to the extreme.
The 74-year-old has left behind the southern hemisphere winter for the sweltering humidity of Shenzhen in a bid to find Chinese partners for his invention.
He doesn’t speak the language and faces China’s notorious red tape and bureaucracy but believes it’s the best place to patent his flat-pack building kit, described as the “IKEA of building”, and launch it to the world.
The industrial hub of Shenzhen was built on entrepreneurship.
Within three decades, the concept of “jumping into the sea” transformed what was a small fishing village of about 100,000 people into what is now one of China’s largest and wealthiest cities.
The city’s transformation began in 1980, when China, desperate to open up its economy to the rest of the world, singled it out as a special economic zone.
It’s now home to 20 million people, has the world’s fourth tallest skyscraper, third largest container port and is the birthplace of some of China’s biggest and most innovative companies.
It’s also China’s answer to Silicon Valley, with global tech giants Tencent and Huawei headquartered there.
Mr Bjornsson’s building system can be used to build anything from a Buddhist temple to a multi-storey residential tower using unskilled labour under skilled supervision.
He’s used a joint Queensland Chinese government grant to set up a temporary base at Shenzhen’s international science and technology business platform, an incubator for budding entrepreneurs from around the world, to search for Chinese companies to partner with his company Go Evolve.
He says two large Chinese companies have decided to test his system in China.
He’s prepared to take his chances in Shenzhen after what he says has been a raw deal in Australia.
In Australia, his qualifications as an architect from his native Iceland are not recognised.
“It’s an incentive to succeed,” he says.
* The reporter travelled to China on a delegation hosted by the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs.
Australian Associated Press