Beijing's unicorn companies make up 40% of China's total

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There are 82 unicorn companies in Beijing, accounting for 40% of China's total, according to a recent research report on China's unicorn enterprises in 2018 released by think tank Greatwall Enterprise Institute.

Positioning itself to be the national center of technological innovation, Beijing boasts a pool of top universities, scientific research institutions, talents, and achievements of cutting-edge scientific studies. These elements contribute largely to the birth of such intrinsically innovative companies. Over the past five years, unicorn companies, or start-ups with a market value of over US$1 billion, have sprung up in Beijing.

Founded in 2011, Megvii Technology, a company in the artificial intelligence (AI) sector, became a unicorn company over the eight years in Zhongguancun, a technology hub in Beijing. Recently, the company announced the completion of a new round of financing, seeing its total amount of financing in series D (fourth round) increase to about US$750 million.

Xiaomi, one of China's well-known mobile phone companies, has long since become a role model of unicorn companies. Founder Lei Jun attributed his choice of headquarter location in Zhongguancun to the area's talent pool.

Zhongguancun continuously implemented policies in recent years to attract talents and encourage technological innovation, and attracted nearly 10,000 foreign talents and over 30,000 Chinese from overseas. Benefiting from these high-end talents, companies here filed 86,395 patent applications and obtained 53,982 patents in 2018.

What adds more to the innovative vitality of the city is the large capital pool conducive to the rapid growth of unicorn companies.

Horizon Robotics, another AI company established in Zhongguancun, received investment from famous venture capital institutions like Morningside Venture Capital, Sequoia Capital, and Sinovation Ventures upon its inception in 2015, and obtained even more from other venture capital institutions and venture capitalists in 2016.

Many of the world's top venture capital institutions, including Sequoia Capital, IDG Capital, and DCM have taken offices in Beijing by the end of 2017. Statistics show that Beijing has been attracting over one-third of the country's venture capital in recent years.

Still, more unicorn companies are springing up in the city. According to the list of China's potential unicorn companies in the first quarter of 2019 released by the Hurun Research Institute this month, 25 out of the 70 potential unicorn companies are from Beijing.

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