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5 August, 2019 - 10:17 By Kate Sweeney

VC fund backs Crayfish.io initiative to get UK businesses China-ready

A ground-breaking initiative with a £500k investment fund dedicated to helping UK businesses get ‘China-ready’ has been launched in Cambridge by global online platform, Crayfish.io.

Starting in September, the Crayfish China Accelerator programme – which has secured UK-China Enterprise Fund (UKCE), a Chinese-capital-backed VC fund, as its first anchor investor – will select up to five early-stage businesses every six months, making it the first rolling initiative of its kind in the UK.

Successful companies must have a minimum viable product (MVP), be tech with IP and working within the sector focus, which is initially covering medical devices, advance manufacturing and new materials. Prospective businesses also need to have an interest in doing business with China in a medium term of 18 months.

In return, the qualifying startups each receive a cash injection of up to £100,000 in return for an equity stake in the business as well as all-important introductions to key investors and businesses in the China/UK network.

The six-month programme, which is split into a three-month ‘China-Invest-Ready’ phase and three-month fundraising period, includes training in key areas and packaged services to facilitate the market entry: business plan preparation, Chinese market insights, Chinese culture, Mandarin tutoring and other business-related support. 

The startups also have an opportunity to pitch to a hand-picked audience of Chinese investors for further investments at a special demo day organised by Crayfish.io.

Ting Zhang, founder & CEO of Crayfish.io said: “China is the world’s second largest economy and an important market for any global businesses – so, even if you are a small player, it’s important to think big and have a China strategy in place. 

“China can be a difficult market to crack and even more so for startups, which is why the Crayfish China Accelerator programme is significant –providing a crucial combination of money and hand-holding: a strategic Chinese investor to fund market entry and all the necessary training, business expertise and service delivery capabilities to facilitate it.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with UK-China Enterprise Fund and to be able to offer start-ups a fast-track opportunity to China. 

“It’s never been a better time to be delivering on exports as well as on inward investment – and our China Accelerator Programme is a concrete way of doing this better with China.”

Dr Jian Cao, partner, UKCE said: “We are pleased to be the Crayfish China Accelerator’s first anchor investor and look forward to working with Ting and her team at Crayfish.io on this exciting new initiative, which will enable investee companies to explore the Chinese market to its full potential.”

The Crayfish China Accelerator is also supported by the highly regarded St John’s Innovation Centre, the flagship incubator for the most ambitious, innovative firms within the Cambridge cluster.

David Gill, managing director of St John’s Innovation Centre said: “We are delighted to be backing this new initiative by Crayfish.io. Over the years, I have seen many startups fail in their attempts to crack China, and the Crayfish China Accelerator is just the sort of support they need to facilitate their business there.”

Applications for the Crayfish China Accelerator can be made to Accelerator [at] Crayfish.io There is also a hashtag #CrayfishAccelerator for conversations across social media platforms.

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