Phil Clarke, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ecosweet Inc., is interviewed by Xinhua in Houston, Texas, the United States, on May 17, 2019. Opportunities abound in China, Clarke said during the fourth U.S.-China Innovation and Investment Summit. (Xinhua/Liu Liwei)
Abundant opportunities in China have driven U.S. entrepreneurs to the Chinese market, demonstrating that local-level collaboration and exchanges are still strong despite the ongoing U.S.-China trade tensions.
In the just concluded fourth U.S.-China Innovation and Investment Summit which was held on Thursday and Friday in Houston, U.S. state of Texas, 12 products and business plans provided by U.S. entrepreneurs won the InnoSTARS Houston preliminary competition. The entrepreneurs are leaving for China in the following months to attend the next round of competition and meet potential investors, partners and industry experts there.
The innovative sweetener brought by Ecosweet Inc. won the first place in the track of Advanced Manufacturing, Materials, Environmental Technology.
According to Phil Clarke, the chief executive officer (CEO), Ecosweet's product is a pure blend of cane sugar and natural flavor. "Ecosweet brand Lite Sugar is four times sweeter than conventional sugar, so a little goes a long way."
Ecosweet Inc. headquartered in New Orleans, U.S. state of Louisiana, is a vertically integrated developer, manufacturer, and marketer of NON-GMO natural sweeteners.
The company's founder Sonny Berry is the inventor of Lite Sugar. Berry said: "Mississippi and Louisiana are number one and two respectfully in childhood obesity nationwide. Our mission is to educate individuals and families how to reduce sugar consumption naturally without the use of GMO or artificial sweeteners and reflected in our slogan Be Healthy Go Lite."
Clarke told Xinhua that they are planning to open a Chinese registered company, which would be owned in majority by Chinese investors to address the Chinese market.
He said the significant amount of opportunities in China drew him there. "There are hundreds and hundreds of other beverage companies and chocolate companies, candies, cakes, and all of those companies (in China) are producing their products using a lot of sugar or a lot of high fructose corn syrup."
The Ecosweet CEO also said he hopes the joint venture in China may help export Lite Sugar to other markets in Asia because he believes China "is well positioned with all the ports to be able to export our product throughout Asia."
In the past several years, dozens of U.S. entrepreneurs have won chances to attend competition and road show in China. Some of them attended the fourth U.S.-China Innovation and Investment Summit, sharing their experience in China and successful story in business.
Miguel Cara, the founder and CEO of the air transit company FlyGlobos, based in Texas, said the current trade tensions between China and the United States has not affected his decision to establish partnerships in China.
He attended the InnoSTARS competition last year, won second place in a semifinal competition and became a finalist for 2018.
After the competition last year, he secured the investment and aside from the four entities that he opened in the United States, he would open three companies in China.
"There are multiple ways to perceive the geopolitical situations that we face today," Cara said. "We are business people. We're business-oriented, and we are like-minded. Nothing will stop progress. Nothing will stop friendships that are genuinely associated with win-win situations."
The InnoSTARS competition is a platform that connects U.S.-based innovators and companies with Chinese investors, corporations, and strategic partners. It is included in a two-day event of U.S.-China Innovation and Investment Summit.
David Firestein, founding executive director of the China Public Policy Center in University of Texas at Austin, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the summit that people-to-people and business-to-business exchanges are the basis of U.S.-China relations.
Firestein, also president and CEO of the George H.W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations, said, "They (cities, companies and individuals on both sides) work together every day in ways that you don't see headlines about and that we often forget about."
Jointly hosted by the China Science & Technology Exchange Center and U.S.-China Innovation Alliance, the U.S.-China Innovation and Investment Summit attracted around 300 participants from China and the United States, including entrepreneurs and investors.