French shipbuilder sees innovative growth in Dalian
China's reform and opening-up drive, along with other efforts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation, is motivating many people, including foreigners, to start businesses in the country.
China Daily website produced a series of videos that offer a glimpse into China's improving business landscape and how foreigners are starting businesses in a wide range of sectors.
This is the fourth in the series.
This is a story of passion and innovation. Merely two years after the young French engineer Stephane Gonnetand settled in Dalian, Northeast China’s Liaoning province, he and his partner Gildas Olivier founded a shipyard, ODC Marine.
Challenges came mainly from venturing into an unknown field. "It was our first business, so we had to learn a lot... We have to hire people and build trust with customers... But this is part of the excitement," Gonnetand said.
Nevertheless, he believed they were lucky enough. The local opening-up policy had just changed when they were mulling the startup plan, which allowed them to obtain a business license in shipbuilding as a foreign company.
Over the years, they dedicated themselves to innovation. Inspired by electric buses running in the streets of Dalian, they developed an electric boat and hybrid boat. "[In this respect], we were the first in the world even though we were a very small company. And that's because we were in China."
Recently, the local authority decided to reduce the tax rate for high-tech innovative companies, from 25 percent to 15 percent. "There is clearly an incentive now, including for small companies to innovate," he said.
Gonnetand was also pleased to see the quality of his suppliers has been improving. It was driven by the market's understanding of quality, derived from customers' higher requirements, he explained.
"If you are looking to make very low-cost products, China is not the country anymore," he said.
He said the way they have grown was really in step with China, both with a focus shifting from low cost to innovation, and then to high quality. "This is why it is such an exciting project."