From a 14th-century canal town to the futuristic waterfront packed tight with skyscrapers, Shanghai is the most potent symbol of thriving modern China. Shanghai now scores as the top city that's emerging as a tech innovation hub internationally. That's why there is a huge growth in start-ups over the last few years, with many capitalising on the city’s cosmopolitan nature.
It is the financial mecca of China and lately has put innovation as a top strategic goal turning it into a "go to" place for innovators, entrepreneurs and start-ups.
One of them is Xiaoi company, a pioneer in artificial intelligence techniques that focuses on smart machine technology research and development.
It's also the world’s leading robot technology provider and platform operator, which embraces the most advanced Chinese dialogue robot engine.
Makino Mao, Xiaoi's Marketing Director, explains the concept behind the Xiaoi robot: "It's actually a vehicle and tool to deliver designed services such as listening and speaking with its cloud brain. So far, Xiaoi Robot is used in education, medical treatment, business and even entertainment."
But, how has Shanghai has managed to blossom into a start-up heaven?
Mao explains: "Shanghai has always been an international financial city. It attracts many talents and resources and the government offers a lot of support. Its strategic location helps in boosting development as well."
Freedom to bike
Imagine a world where you can pick up and leave a bike at your convenience. That is exactly what the Mobike company has managed to do by providing an affordable means of shared transportation for convenient short urban trips.
He Han Qui explains the benefits of the bike: "What we are doing is a dockless bike. It’s popular and in comparison to traditional bikes, we don’t have a station. All you need is a mobile app and you can find all the bikes available in your area. And just like playing pokemon, you just go there, you scan your phone on the bike, and your bicycle will be unlocked in a second. So you can go anywhere on the bike and lock it anywhere.’’
With Mobike you can literally drop off an pick up your bike anywhere. You simply need to download the app, make an account and just scan to unlock and ride.
He adds: "The bikes are kitted out with GPS and there is a SIM card. In fact, there are three different GPSs and one CPU so it's more like a phone compared to very traditional lock, and that’s why you can find our bike very accurately on your phone."
The company was founded in 2015 and today has six million bicycles all over the world providing 20 million rides per day.
Nest of culture
Shanghai has turned out to be not only a gorgeous nest of culture, art, exhibitions, entertainment and leisure but also an extremely attractive destination for MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) market. Here you can find some of the most prestigious hotels in the world that offer tailor-made products and packages to meet different guest needs.
More and more hotels in the city provide exceptional services and create a memorable brand experience to pamper their guests and distinguish themselves from the competition. Their aim is to give their guests the opportunity to combine business and pleasure.
Paul Alexander, general manager of Wanda Reigh on the Bund Hotel, says: "Shanghai is obviously the capital of import-export and trade in Asia at the moment. Obviously, a lot of incoming and outcoming products, business etc. Chairman Xi is launching the one Road One Belt initiative. We focus on connecting China with the East and West and obviously it is a perfect market for meetings and taking initiative to focus on conferences."
For more traditional surroundings, you can visit Zhujiajiao, an ancient town located in the Qingpu District of Shanghai. While there you can stroll around the beautiful water town that was established about 1,700 years ago.
While staying there you can grab the chance to join tai - chi classes or take some calligraphy lessons, so as to get closer to the Chinese culture.
Central and essential for trade
The National Exhibition and Convention Center plays a key role in Shanghai's business environment. It boasts more than 800,000 square metres of exhibition venues and facilities.
The next big thing that will take place over there is the first China International Import Expo from 5 to 10 November 2018.
Companies taking part in the Expo will be able to display their products on the e-platform. They can seek potential partners, and complete online trading using cashless tools such as digital payment systems.
Says Pen Chun Yan, Senior Manager of Operation at the Exhibition Centre: "The Shanghai National Exhibition and Convention Center is like an aircraft carrier in the exhibition industry. It is also an exhibition complex. The best way to describe it would be: a national platform for trade and exhibition. It's also a platform for China’s Belt and Road Initiative. It is a platform to foster the development of business and commerce and promotes the development of the exhibition industry in Shanghai."
What makes Shanghai's landscape so special is the city's landmark, Huangpu River. This magical river cuts across Shanghai city, dividing it into two regions: Puxi (West Bank) and Pudong (East Bank).
Fang Ao, Operation Manager of the Huangpu River Cruise, says: "We are turning the Huangpu River Tour into a world-class tourism product before 2020. We mainly offer the Huangpu River tour and catering services on the boat. Our current target customers are the medium - and high-end customers. So we serve very exquisite food so as to meet the need of our target customers."
Whether you are on a personal or a business trip, don't pass up the chance to take a step back in time, as you walk in the roads of Yu Garden, built more than 400 years ago. The exquisite layout, beautiful scenery, and the artistic style of the garden architecture have made this area one of the highlights of Shanghai.
There you can enjoy your tea and grab the chance for some Shanghainish street food.
Once you dine in Shanghai you may start to question your prior conception of Chinese food. Shanghai offers so many culinary options, from roadside stalls to Michelin-starred restaurants. One of the standout features of the city is Shanghainish cuisine.
"Shanghainish approach to cooking its a reflection of Shanghainish attitude towards life, which is attention to detail," says Luisa Wang from YongFoo Elite.
"Our chef team is committed to preserving the heritage of traditional Shanghainish cuisine so we consistently stick to the traditional method of cooking."