Leeds City Region opens dialogue with Hangzhou Tech Unicorns

Hangzhou is home to over 30 unicorn companies and some of the largest Tech businesses in world, including Alibaba. In December 2019, a Leeds City Region delegation met with the CEOs of some of China’s most exciting Tech businesses to discuss partnership opportunities.

11 March 2020

A Leeds City Region delegation visited Hangzhou and Qingdao in December 2019. There are strong existing links between these cities and parts of the City Region, including major investments from businesses headquartered in these Chinese cities and increasingly strong civic and business links.

Over the duration of the five-day programme of activity in Hangzhou and Qingdao the team presented at five events, held five government meetings and ten business meetings with major Chinese businesses, influential intermediaries, and potential investors. In total, the delegation met with over 250 key business and government contacts.

Leeds and Hangzhou have been sister cities for 31 years and are committed to building on these strong government links. The delegation met with the Financial Affairs Office, the Hangzhou Health Commission, and the Cross-border E-commerce Comprehensive Pilot Area Office to explore opportunities for Leeds City Region businesses to export their high quality goods and services to one of the largest, and most international, areas of China.

The delegation presented at a number of key events including:

Partnership event with Zhong Lun Law Firm focused on the Digital sector and “Unicorns”

The event was held in partnership with Zhong Lun Law Firm, one of the largest full-service law firms in China. The delegation presented to 30 specially invited guests from the Digital and Technology sector and learnt more about the thriving Tech scene in Hangzhou.

  • Hangzhou is home to 30 unicorn companies (a startup company valued at over $1 billion within 10 years of its establishment), and 138 startups valued at over $1 million, and more than 100 soon-to-be unicorns.
  • Digital startup companies accounted for 96% of the total unicorns in Hangzhou

Supporting Women in Technology and Innovation in Zhejiang event

The event was organised ConnectChina in partnership with CCPIT Hangzhou and the British Consulate Shanghai. The event looked to facilitate the sharing of the knowledge and practical experience of women working in innovation and technology. Presenters including Heba Bevan, Founder of UtterBerry, Alexandra Poole, Managing Director of the iNNiTi Effect, and Anna Bollinger, International Managing Director of APPT, who joined a group of women entrepreneurs from Zhejiang to help create a robust and long-term foundation between women in the province and the UK.


The delegation also met with a number of international businesses including:


The delegation visited the headquarters of Alicloud, Yunqi Cloud Town, and AliCloud ET City Brain. Alicloud is part of Alibaba, one of the world’s largest Tech companies and most valuable online retailers. On 11 November 2019 Alibaba’s payment platform processed 500,000 orders per second, worth $38 billion USD, requiring reliable support from across all their platforms.

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group 

Geely is one of Hangzhou’s Fortune 500 firms currently ranked 220, and has enjoyed a year on year growth rate of 18%, far outstripping the performance of other global automotive manufacturers. Geely own Volvo, London Electric Vehicle Company and Lotus, in addition to a number of other international brands, and sold 2.4 million cars last year. 

Lianlian Pay

The delegation met with Founder, COO and CEO of one of Hangzhou’s global payment processing giants LianLian Pay. Established in 2013, the company has now facilitated over 3.4 trillion RMB of cross border payments. We are exploring opportunities for collaboration in FinTech.


One of our favourite visits was to Tuya who are enabling the world’s best-known brands to be IoT providers. Established 2014, the company is now valued at $3 billion USD, yet another Hangzhou Tech Unicorn with 1,000 engineers working on the campus today developing cloud based solutions.