Newcastle’s Forge will help scaleups break into China (and maybe invest £10m in them)

Martin Bryant, November 29, 2017 2 min read

This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.

It’s increasingly difficult to ignore China’s influence on the tech world. No longer an insular market or a home to mere manufacturing partners of Western giants, the country’s influence in fields like hardware and artificial intelligence is globally important.

Getting access to the Chinese market can be difficult for Westerners, but a new accelerator in Newcastle aims to make it a whole lot easier.

Forge is a collaboration between Northern accelerator Dotforge and Chinese incubator network TUS Holdings, which has 40 locations in China. Dotforge’s Colin Tan describes the initiative as a ‘scale-up accelerator.’ Rather than looking for businesses at a super-early stage, they’re targeting tech firms ready to do business in China. As Tan puts it, it’s “definitely a post-seed type of accelerator, and can also take in Series-A types of companies.”

Although it’s billed as an ‘IoT accelerator’ (not the first to launch in the North this month), Forge is casting its net wide. Companies working in artificial intelligence, data, energy, cleantech, robotics, and smart hardware are all welcome to apply.

From Newcastle to China

The programme will begin in Newcastle, and include coaching and engineering feedback from Foxconn’s European affiliate, Koobe. After demo days in Newcastle and London, teams will travel to China where they’ll spend time in locations including Beijing and Shenzhen. There they’ll take part in more demo days and get introductions to useful potential partners, including manufacturing firms and e-commerce giant Alibaba – perfect for selling into China’s enormous domestic market.

There’s a £50,000 initial investment that comes with taking part in the programme (consisting of £10,000 programme fee plus a convertible note, at a pre-money valuation of between £1.2 and £8 million). TUS Holdings will consider follow-on investment of up to £10 million in startups it considers most promising. That gives you an idea of how seriously TUS is taking its first expansion outside China.

Forge begins in Newcastle on 8 January, and the deadline for applications is 6 December, so you don’t have long to register your interest. You can find more information about the programme and whether it’s right for your company at the Forge website.

Image credit: Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Growth, scaling, Startup stories, Newcastle, North East