Research Park Director Laura Frerichs Promotes Engagement Initiatives in China

Category : Research Park
Posted on: June 12, 2014

Nǐ hǎo from Shanghai! I am delighted to be in China promoting the University of Illinois with President Bob Easter and Associate Chancellor for Corporate and International Relations Pradeep Khana. In addition to my role as Director of the University of Illinois Research Park, I am the Director of Economic Development for the Office of Public Engagement on the Urbana-Champaign campus. The University of Illinois has a long history and strong relationship with alumni, industry, and academic institutions in China. We are here to engage with our current partners and contacts while developing new relationships to expand our presence.

The Urbana-Champaign campus has one of the largest Chinese student populations in the United States and more than 20,000 Illinois alumni living in China. In addition, the University has academic partnerships with 65 Chinese institutions. In December 2013, the University extended its reach in China even further with the official opening of the Illinois China office in Shanghai. This physical space in China’s largest city will allow us to continue connecting with businesses and Illinois alumni in China as we advance the educational, research, and economic development missions of the University.

We have already experienced tremendous success with engagement initiatives in China. Here are a few examples:

  • Global corporations located in the University’s Research Park with innovation/R&D/engineering centers also have operations in China. In addition, the locations here are customers of the work done in the Research Park innovation center. Fox example, Caterpillar in China sends simulation and equipment design projects to Champaign for our engineers to test design solutions and capabilities with software simulations. Anheuser Busch in China sends projects to the Bud Lab in the Research Park for data analytics and modeling.
  • Students work in the Research Park year-round, which includes part-time employment in the companies and full-time summer internships. This offers Chinese students industry experience and makes them excellent candidates for jobs upon graduation. In particular, many of the big corporations with offices in the Research Park are developing a talent pipeline for innovation and want to see the Chinese student interns return to China as high-performing technology experts.
  • Chinese students working in the Research Park are helping corporations enter the Chinese market and expand their growth in the U.S. They are able to provide guidance about American business culture and assist with language barriers.
  • Several University of Illinois startup companies have engineering/software operations in China. In addition, many of our startups sell products in China. For example, we have two clean water companies that have sales in China as one of their primary markets.
  • We have been recruiting international companies, including Chinese companies, for soft-landing destinations in the Research Park. By locating on campus, they are able to recruit Chinese students to help set up new U.S. operations and receive many support services from our office. HYX Biotech, a new U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese enzyme manufacturing company, is an example of one company that has opened in the Research Park.

In addition to our meetings and corporate visits, we will host receptions for Illinois alumni and incoming students in Shanghai, Beijing, and Ghangzhou. We are all looking forward to reconnecting with some of our best alumni and welcoming a new generation of students to the Illinois family.

It is going to be an exciting two weeks as we promote the University of Illinois and continue developing relationships with our friends in China.  I look forward to providing you updates along the way!