We’re very much looking forward to welcoming a full cohort of groundbreaking water technologies to the ImagineH2O Smart Water Hub at our exhibition Aquatech China – Aquatech Global Events Showcase Page this week (31th May – 2 June, 2018).
The Smart Water Hub will host interactive discussions with industry leaders to highlight the opportunities and challenges to the deployment of water innovation in China. Case studies and workshops will provide an opportunity to elaborate on the path forward. A dedicated pitch session will enable each Smart Water Hub exhibitor to present to a distinguished panel of judges and broader audience of water industry professionals.
It’s been a great experience working with our respectable partners Imagine H2O and Isle Utilities, and we thank all for your hard work and contributions.
For complete program overview, please refer to below link:
Our Director of Investments Maarten ter Keurst will be speaking at a panel session at WaterVent in Philadelphia on May 3rd. During this session he will share with the audience his thoughts on innovative water technologies from an investor’s perspective. Other investors in the panel include Debra Coy from XPV Water Partners, James Z.Li from E.J. McKay Investment Bank, Romie Basra from Wells Fargo, Seth Warren Rose of Eneref Foundation and Jason Wuliger from Splash Link. For a detailed programme please see the attachment.
WaterVent is a platform dedicated to matching innovators and investors the water technology space.
We look forward to meeting you there and hearing about your ideas on water innovation.
Selling in China is not that different from selling elsewhere. But there are several key differences you need to keep in mind. That’s why we’ve compiled a list with five tips to sell in the Chinese industrial water sector.
Don’t Michael Jordan it: First and foremost – adequately protect your IP rights. Also, check for needed certification or product testing to sell your solutions in China.
Don’t go at it alone: The strength of your local network determines your success in the Chinese water market. Which is why we can’t stress enough how important it is to find the right local partner to open up important sales channels.
Strengthen your local presence: Selling your solution is not enough. Being able to provide timely after-sales service is crucial to compete with local competitors.
Target engineering companies and design institutes: The gateway to key-decision makers and your potential end-customers, it’s indispensable to establish and nurture strong relationships with them.
Sufficiently support from abroad: Regardless of how you choose to establish your operations in China, don’t underestimate the required investment (time and money) to support your operations in China.
Let’s take a closer look at these tips:
Always adequately protect your IP – and check for certification and testing
Horror stories of brands being unable to sell their products in China, as they’re already registered by a counterfeit company – teach us that protecting your IP rights is a prerequisite before taking any other action.
Work with a law firm that possesses particular knowledge of this specific industry and register your patents, trademarks and other property rights.
Conducting thorough due diligence on your potential partners can also effectively mitigate risks. If you plan to manufacture (parts of) your solution locally, importing IPR-sensitive parts might be the safer option.
Your partner in China and the relationship you have is pivotal to your success in China
Without a local partner or an established local team it will be extremely difficult to get projects. It starts with acquiring market information and ends with convincing engineering companies, design institutes and end-users to choose your solution.
Given the time it takes to build-up your own presence, it’s much faster to find suitable local partners to gain access to the market. Don’t forget to conduct due diligence, ask for project references to assess their technical capabilities and to verify their contacts and networks by talking to industry experts from other businesses or associations.
Strengthen your local presence
Specifically in the industrial water sector, you’ll want to show your long-term commitment to China and provide credibility and security to your customers. Merely selling your solution won’t cut it. You’ll need to provide sufficient technical support on the ground:
- Help train, manage and support your distributors or local partners
- Improve your distributors and upgrade their working methods
- Provide timely after-sales service to compete with competitors
- Maintain relationships with key clients and stakeholders
- Exercise more control over your brand image, marketing, promotion, stakeholders and IPR
Build relationships with engineering companies and design institutes
Regular Chinese distributors may lack in-house expertise and know-how to offer advanced solutions to end-users. The better option are engineering companies, who often choose to act as distributors for equipment manufacturers, especially because this enables them to lower procurement costs and up their own competitive advantage. They not only have the necessary technical capabilities, but also possess valuable local market knowledge and networks to end-users and design institutes.
Design institutes not only co-write tenders, but are also key decision makers on which technologies to consider. Most importantly, they’re opinion is asked by end-users when it comes to selecting suppliers.
Don’t underestimate the amount of support needed from your home organization
To reap the best results, constant support to your local team and partners is needed by your home organization. Don’t underestimate the time and money it will take to break into this market.
We’ve identified four segments within the market to offer great opportunities between 2015 and 2020: Desalination, process water, wastewater and environmental monitoring.
Challenges, such as rising competition or potential market barriers, can make entering the market more difficult, but not impossible.
It’s important to keep in mind that Chinese companies are not merely looking for equipment; they demand integrated solutions and technical support on the ground.
Merely selling equipment is becoming more and more difficult as companies look to integrated solutions accompanied by local support.
And it’s the latter where foreign companies often go wrong: Chinese competitors usually not only offer a more competitive price, but also timely local support.
As we’ve mentioned in our last blog post, even Chinese end-users are eyeing the water technology market as an investment opportunity, meaning they are particularly willing to invest in technologies that can provide a return-on-investment.
Localizing your manufacturing can help you to overcome potential market barriers and become competitive on price
The desalination industry is expanding quickly as the government plans to quadruple the country’s capacity between 2015 and 2020. This also means a rapidly increasing demand for foreign know-how and technology.
However, the government is planning to restrict imports of foreign equipment, stipulating that 70% of equipment is to be produced within the country.
You can potentially overcome this by manufacturing or assembling your equipment locally, which will also enable you to reduce costs dramatically. Just remember to choose the right partner and to properly protect your intellectual property.
Pilot-projects and references are a must for the majority of Chinese customers
Process water remains an important segment, but entering this market in China may prove to be difficult. It’s a relatively mature market and thus also comparatively conservative, as process water links directly to a factory’s manufacturing process and end product.
Chinese industrials will often ask for (a number of) references for projects already completed in China, until they are willing to try new technologies.
So it’s important to come prepared with relevant pilot-projects and references.
Which technologies will have the most prospects?
Technologies that Chinese competitors cannot yet offer, such as meeting new ultrapure water requirements for the pharmaceutical and micro-electronic industries, or technologies that can help your consumer to substantially decrease resources and cost.
Merely selling equipment is simply not cutting it anymore
The wastewater treatment market will provide the most ample opportunities, as foreign companies can offer advanced technologies and solutions that are currently unknown of in the Chinese market.
However it’s important to stress the competitive advantage of complete and integrated solutions coupled with local, high-quality service.
Focus on niche markets and leverage your foreign know-how and certification
The demand for monitoring equipment will continue to increase as monitoring needs continue to grow. Especially in this segment, growing competition from local manufacturers in the low-to-medium segment of the market is driving foreign companies towards the high-end market segments.
Niche markets, such as the monitoring of nano-particles, can provide generous opportunities. More importantly, foreign companies can set themselves apart with advanced integration (e.g. online data reporting and collection) and international certification.
Ideally, Chinese end-users want to see a return-on-investment
Chinese companies are mainly looking for technologies that can provide a return on investment and maybe even a new business segment.
The industry has experienced a trend moving towards water re-use and recycling. Technologies such as zero-liquid discharge, wastewater to resources and residual heat recovery are experiencing substantial growth.
Not tailoring your solution to China-specific needs could cost you your success
What’s most important is to remind yourself that China is prone to different pollution issues. To just name an example, the pollution in the water supply may change the need of industrials and industrial parks for process water solutions.
Familiarize yourself with the manufacturing process of your potential client and tailor your solution to their specific needs, this is also something that can set you apart from Chinese competitors that usually offer more generic solutions.
Position yourself against your Chinese competitors
Having raised the topic of how you can compete with Chinese competitors: localization of your solutions and after-sales service is the key.
While most MNCs and larger Chinese companies will invest in foreign advanced technologies and equipment, the majority of Chinese companies will not see the point in above-standard treatment results and will not invest more money than is required to comply with the law.
In most cases, it will be considerably more difficult for foreign companies to compete with their Chinese counterparts on price. However, foreign companies can bypass this issue by focusing on tailored solutions for high-profile projects. This makes sense, as foreign companies are often considered more trust-worthy to manage complex and long-term projects.