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State agency strengthens ties w Chinese tech park

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State agency strengthens ties with Chinese tech park

A new partnership between state officials and private investors aims to make Hawai'i the launching pad for Chinese companies that want to do business in the United States.

Gov. Linda Lingle is briefed by Yingqi Xia, deputy director of the Administrative Committee of Zhong-guancun Science Park. The committee is the government agency that manages the technology park.

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Details of a deal between the Hawaii Technology Development Corp. and the Beijing Zhongguancun International Incubator were hashed out over several months and finalized during a recent trade mission to China headed by Gov. Linda Lingle. The agreement represents the only state-level partnership with China's largest technology park and provides room for officials on each side to open offices in each other's countries, said Phil Bossert, executive director for HTDC.

"They have lots of U.S. companies, but they don't have any U.S. state agencies that have opened an office there," said Bossert, who heads the state agency that runs business incubation centers in Manoa; Kihei, Maui; and Hilo, Hawai'i.

The plan is to funnel Chinese businesses to Hawai'i while helping Hawai'i companies search for licensees and suppliers in China.

The effort is expected to get a private-sector boost from Barry Weinman, managing director of Allegis Capital and a co-founder of HiBEAM, an organization of venture capitalists and others who have raised millions for its client companies.

Weinman is in the process of forming DragonBridge, which will be a $3 million Honolulu-based merchant bank that aims to identify and aid Chinese companies interested in branching out to the United States. DragonBridge plans to have three people at Zhongguancun who will counsel and spruce up Chinese companies seeking U.S. investment capital.

DragonBridge won't invest directly in the companies, but rather will receive a cash-and-stock fee based on how much money it helps each company raise. DragonBridge plans to officially launch in July.

Starting this summer Weinman hopes five to 10 companies a year will open operations in Hawai'i in search of technical and financial support. Ideally, the Chinese companies eventually will become candidates for mergers, acquisitions or initial public offerings of stock.

Even just a few successful launches could propel Hawai'i's reputation as a home for high-tech, Weinman said.

"All we need are two or three successes and Hawai'i could get on the map with this

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