It's been almost 4 weeks since I landed in Beijing and began working with my colleagues in China.

2 weeks ago, I had the unanticipated opportunity to be involved in the organization of Imagination Festival - an event held at Beijing University celebrating the past, present and future of innovation in China. University students and high tech entrepreneurs attending the event seemed to be inspired by Bill Gate's keynote speech titled "Innovation through the Digital Decade". 

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Normally, I would not expect to see an honorary tie to SaaS in a technology celebration event like this. However, I was pleasantly surprised that day.

During the event, Bill Gates presented awards to 5 "innovation heroes" as tokens of appreciation for being engineering and entrepreneural forefrunners of the software industry in China. 2 of the 5 heroes honored by Bill have been involved in SaaS-related endeavors:

o    Wang Xiao Cun is a program manager at the Suzhou SaaS innovation center and has been instrumental in the development of the Suzhou software park's SaaS incubation program.

o    Mr. Guo is the founder of MaKaDao - a small SaaS ISV startup that is applying the academic theory of marketing science to real world business problems through the company's SaaS application.

Left to right below (Bill Gates delivering the keynote; China Imagine Cup winners; me with Mr. Guo, the honored innovation hero):

组图:盖茨在北大创新盛会上演讲cid:image012.jpg@01C784F7.DAB7DDE0

 

Another highlight at this event is the final competition and announcement of the China Imagine Cup winners. The Imagine Cup is the world's premier student technology competition challenging university students all over the world to innovate with their programming skills. The winner of the China Imagine Cup gets to represent their country in the grand finals that will be held in Korea later this year.

Among the China Imagine Cup entries is one from XinHua University in ChengDu, where the students have implemented a multi-tenant SaaS application for creating and managing university portals. The team also sumitted a commercialization plan intending to capitalize on the long tail of Chinese universities where custom designed college websites for managing student and faculty activities are still considered unaffordable operational expenditure. Although this entry is not the final competition winner (perhaps the demo factor is not as cool), I think the SaaS business plan looks very promising if executed properly.

So there I was, witnessing and enjoying the presence of SaaS at a non-SaaS event.