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Rick Rasmussen : A free mind is the first step to a successful startup.

      On October 26th 2018, The 2nd China Urban Operation Forum was held in Beijing with the central topic “AI + Urban Operation: Exploring the Path of Innovation in Smart City Operation”. Around 300 guests from political, industrial and academic circles are invited for the forum, seeking for the path of development in AI + Urban Operation. Rick Rasmussen, APIA Chief Mentor, Professor of UC Berkeley, Member of the 2018 China Urban Operation Consulting Committee has made a speech on “Creating an Open and Sustainable International Innovation Ecosystem, based on the development path of Silicon Valley.

      The 2018 APIA International Innovation Accelerator Program was held in Shenzhen, the core city of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, on the dates July 19th to August 9th. It has successfully brought together over 200 innovation enthusiasts from 50+ world’s top universities in 50+ different countries participated in this project. Over 60% of participants were from an international background, including students from UC Berkeley, University College London, University of Copenhagen, University of Sydney, University of Edinburgh, University of Lisbon, Peking University, Tsinghua University, Renmin University of China, Fudan University, Tongji University, Zhejiang University, Southern University of Science and Technology, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute, Hong Kong University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, University of Macao, etc. This event was supported by Google, Media, TCL, Dell, Guangdong Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Promotion Center, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Software and Integrated Circuit Promotion Center, Qianhai INNO-TECH Investment, CITIC press, Huawei, Ping An Technology Smart City, Haier Financial Holdings, Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Association, etc. The theme of the 2018 APIA International Innovation Accelerator is “AI” which covers more than 50 professional fields including Big Data, blockchain and intelligent manufacturing. Students came up with ideas through brainstorming and networked with each other, ultimately forming 40 culturally diverse startup teams. Mentored by 70+ renowned entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley, startup teams went through the process of prototyping, growth hacking, finding users and pitching your startup idea to over 10 VCs.

      The Asia-Pacific Innovation Academy is co-founded by Brightvision Capital and the European Innovation Academy, in collaboration with the world's leading technology innovation and education research institutions such as Shenzhen University, Emerging Markets Institute of Beijing Normal University, Qianhai Inno-Tech Investment, science & technology innovation institutions from CITIC enterprise and Hong Kong. The APIA International Innovation Accelerator Program is the world’s largest of its kind,aiming to take participants through the process of turning ideas into startups in 21 days. The whole idea is to nurture the entrepreneur mindset and to provide the tools needed to take an idea from pure concept into implementation. As it says, free mind is indeed the first step to a successful startup.

      The course design of APIA is sourced from 4 world class universities and S&T institutions: UC Berkeley, University of Stanford, Google and Microsoft. With the aim to simulate the entire lifecycle of a startup firm, the 3-week program was divided into 3 main phases. Topic NO.1: “Ideation and Team Formation”. Students need to form a team with people from different culture backgrounds, promote their ideas and self-quantify. Topic NO.2: “Prototyping and Growth Hacking”. During this week, students start to build a prototype of their product, make growth hacking strategies and go-to-market plan, as well as Big Data application and UX/UI design. Final of the program focus on finding real customers and financing, including finding the first 1000 users in 100 hours, branding, IP clinics, financial management and pitching.

      APIA has introduced the mindset of startup companies in Silicon Valley into the curriculum design, which uses a typical method to identify customers. In this process, identifying the customer’s problem and how to solve the problem is the first crucial step. Thus, the priority of a startup company is not making the product and then sell it to customers, but exploring the potential demands of the customers in their lives and then create a relevant product. This is a reverse process to many engineer’s mindset, which eagerly makes a product first and think about selling it later. In APIA programs, mentors will guide students through the process of ideation and market validation. Participants firstly come up with a potential need or problem, and then bring this idea/need to the potential customers in order to test the market. Through this process, students are able to learn how to create a replicable and sustainable business model.

      A day at the APIA Innovation Acceleration Camp would typically start with a series of inspiration keynote speeches, followed by group work sessions in the afternoon where participants receive hands-on mentoring by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. In the 21-day program, students would interact with and learn from chief mentors, design mentors (experts in Product Design and UI/UX Design), marketing mentors, IP mentors and pitching coach. Life coaches are also available onsite, to provide counsel and help participants through this intense and stressful journey.

      The first APIA International Accelerator Program was themed with Artificial Intelligence, which makes it important for the program to adapt a smart management system and also electronic tools including an online platform and a smart chatbot to provide real-time response to participants and mentors.

      One of the highlights of the bootcamp was the introduction of venture capital investors into the program. In the final days of the camp, selected startup teams would be given the opportunity to pitch their ideas to Silicon Valley investors for financing opportunities and valuable feedbacks.

      The 2018 Innovation Acceleration Camp was covered by over 100 media outlets including The Economic Herald, Xinhua Net, Tencent Finance, Sohu, Ifeng, Cyzone,Netease LiveTsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Fudan University, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, University of Macau, Guangming Daily,  Linkedin, Facebook etc.reaching an audience of over 680,000 people.

      In July 2019, the 2nd APIA International Innovation Acceleration Camp will be held in Beijing in July, 2019. Looking forward to your joining in our program!



-   Speech By Rick Rasmussen, APIA Chief Mentor, Professor of UC Berkeley


A Silicon Valley native with rich experience in industry, government, venture capital and academia, who has been on executive teams of three separate companies that started with zero revenue, raised rounds from leading VCs, went public and sold for a collective $8B. He connects governments, and economic development agencies with the vast resources available throughout Silicon Valley, also to help build entrepreneurial ecosystems worldwide.