By Accident or Design? Shenzhen as a Global Hub for Digital Entrepreneurs

Lundberg, Kirsten

By 2019, the south China coastal city of Shenzhen was recognized worldwide as a digital technology powerhouse. The media branded it a second Silicon Valley. Shenzhen annually registered record numbers of patents under the international Patent Cooperation Treaty. Incubators and accelerators supported an exploding number of start-ups in such diverse fields as medical devices, new materials, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Yet barely 40 years earlier, Shenzhen had been a backward area of fields, rice paddies, and fishing villages. How had China pulled off the seemingly impossible feat of building a world-class city in the blink of an eye? What accounted for its outsize expertise in digital technology? Why did entrepreneurs from China and abroad flock to live there? More specifically, how did government and public policies contribute to its status as a global mecca for digital entrepreneurs? Was Shenzhen a one-off, or might any government, through careful planning, create such a phenomenon?

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Entrepreneurship & Policy Initiative
Entrepreneurship & Policy Initiative, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Entrepreneurship & Policy Initiative Working Paper Series
Published Here
January 14, 2020