How ‘China’s MIT’ Tsinghua University drives the country’s tech ambitions

Celia Chen and Sarah Dai:

A group of alumni invested 5 million yuan (US$780,000) in his start-up “without hesitation”, which allowed him to continue to pursue research and development, according to Li Zhu, head of the 3,000-member Tsinghua Alumni TMT Association. “I don’t think he need worry about a shortage of capital with the support of alumni.”

Li, an angel investor, set up the group in 2011 so that Tsinghua alumni in the technology, media and telecommunications industries can get together and network. Such connections have helped establish the university as an influential kingmaker in the country’s technology industry.

“Entrepreneurs have to take advantage of guanxi (relationships in English), and Tsinghua alumni are more likely to help each other [compared with other universities], I think, ” Li said in a recent interview at Tsinghua University in Beijing. “Some funding deals were done directly within the association because it’s a very good place to connect entrepreneurs and investors.”