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Multimillion pound business startup initiative sought by Northumbria University expert

21st April 2016

A Northumbria University professor is looking to bring a multimillion pound business start-up model to the North East.

Professor Yu Xiong of Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University is already leading the development of the largest business incubator in the European Union.

As board director of Cocoon Networks - Europe’s first Chinese capital-backed investment firm – he is playing a leading role in setting up an incubator space using a 70,000sq ft building belonging to the London Stock Exchange near Liverpool Street Station. The incubator will help tech start-ups to take their products to market.

The company spent £13m to renovate the building, and then created a £50m angel fund and £80m creative fund to the Cocoon Incubator to support member start-up companies. 

Professor Xiong is now working on bringing this initiative to the North East and supporting the Northern Powerhouse proposal.

“I'm very willing to make a contribution in supporting business development in the North East, especially for those start-ups with potential to grow in the Chinese market, "said Professor Xiong. “It is my mission to create the best growing environment to startup companies, which includes convenient location, fund access, mentor, and a gateway to the massive China market.”

John Zai, the Founder and CEO of Cocoon Networks, added: “The North East needs to find a better destination for its innovation so it can earn the value it deserves. This destination, obviously, should be China.”

Cocoon Networks announced the plan of a new London-based venture capital (VC) fund earlier this year which will target European technology start-ups. The fund will support tech businesses that have potential to grow in the Chinese market and will look to invest in a range of industries like financial technology (fintech), biotechnology, medical devices, creative industries (e.g. fashion technology).

Professor Xiong is an expert in technology management and is the initiator and director of the China UK Entrepreneurship competition which is in its ninth year. He has mentored more than 200 companies and was recently invited by the British Council to address the China UK Education Policy Week in Beijing.

Currently he is leading the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills North East China Business Development programme as well as helping start-up businesses to explore opportunities in China. Prof Xiong’s contribution to China UK Innovation collaboration made him a 2012 London Olympic Torch Bearer. 

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