Entrepreneurship & innovation in Shenzhen

Skyline of Shenzhen at night.

In China’s leap to economic modernisation, Shenzhen’s transformation stands out.

Lying at the centre of the booming Pearl River Delta next to Hong Kong, this is China’s model city of innovation and industrial prowess. In just four decades, Shenzhen has evolved into a global hub for both high-tech design and advanced manufacturing.

As one of our Global Executive MBA students in Shenzhen, you will gain first hand experience of China’s most competitive and entrepreneurial city.

The Shenzhen model

Shenzhen’s short evolution from coastal backwater to megacity began in 1980 when it was designated the nation’s first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to open the country up to foreign investment.

Historical image of Shenzhen.

The city expanded rapidly to become “the world’s factory” for electronic products. The first of many high-tech industrial parks opened in 1996 bringing international firms such as Toshiba, Intel and IBM to the city.

At the same time the Taiwanese company Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics contractor, chose Shenzhen to develop a campus of super factories for Apple, Microsoft, Dell, and Sony among others.

“Designed in Shenzhen” rather than “Made in Shenzhen” became the priority from the early 2000s. Since then innovation in hardware and manufacturing has contributed to the city’s exponential economic growth and new reputation as “China’s Silicon Valley”. Shenzhen has registered more international patents than any other Chinese city over the last 17 years.

Huawei, Tencent, BYD and ZTE are some of the world’s most innovative brands to come out of Shenzhen’s agile environment. R&D spending in the city was 5% of GDP in 2020.

Innovators are also attracted by the complete electronics production ecosystem, and open source collaborative culture between manufacturers and entrepreneurs. An average of 40,000 new start-ups were recorded each month in 2019.

This flourishing entrepreneurial community is underpinned by the Shenzhen Stock Market and a major finance centre.

By its 40th anniversary as a SEZ the city had achieved an average annual GDP growth of 20.7% over four decades, with nominal GDP surpassing that of Hong Kong’s in 2018.

The Shenzhen cohort

A metropolis of skyscrapers and parks, Shenzhen is now home to some 18 million residents who are described as young, enterprising and well educated; 40% are graduates.

During their time in Shenzhen, our Global EMBA participants will network with a talented cohort in a stimulating environment where academic excellence and a greater understanding of business in China are promoted.