How APAC Entrepreneurs and Creatives Can Shape the Greater Bay Area Cultural Landscape

May 10, 2024 TOBF

Connecting cities across Southern China and the Mainland, the Greater Bay Area (GBA) project is set to create a powerful world economy.

With a population of 86 million (about twice the population of California) and an eyewatering estimated GDP of USD 1.7 trillion, the GBA is destined to transform market access to and within China and boost business potential. Businesses in countries such as Singapore and Australia aimed at Chinese markets are set to benefit, along with the rest of APAC. By easing trade and elevating financial freedoms, the expectation is that the GBA will stimulate innovation across the region, including areas within China such as Hong Kong.

In April 2024, The Orangeblowfish CEO & Founding Partner Natalie explored opportunities for APAC businesses during a panel discussion in Shenzhen, China. The alumni event organised by the  University of New South Wales (UNSW) Business School attracted over 150 people. Also taking part were Research Fellow at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr Haifeng Wu; Silvia Miao, Director of Strategy at the Bank of Guangzhou; and Austrade Senior Commercial Representative, William Lin. 

To explore business opportunities in the Greater Bay Area, find out how Natalie believes APAC entrepreneurs and creatives will play a role in shaping a new cultural landscape. 

TOBF: What do you see as the connection between the GBA and creativity?

NL: On a base level, the GBA is about instigating greater ease of business within the region. The beauty of the plan and how it’s going to be developed is a far more imaginative and innovative economic development than this. China’s Belt and Road Initiative to link infrastructure to the rest of the world promises a global connection and benefits worldwide. In the same way, and reflecting this same concept, the GBA strengthens the links within Southeast Asia and APAC. While these initiatives spring from China, the ripples resonate on a wider scale; bringing economic advantages to businesses beyond China and APAC.

TOBF: How do you see this idea manifesting?

NL: Executives and stakeholders within the region can truly redesign their business ambitions within this new environment. These regional heads for China and APAC, marketing directors, and business leaders are corporate artists, if you like, with a greater array of tools to make an individual imprint on the GBA canvas that is dynamic. The GBA is a creative concept that expands possibilities. This plugs into the notion of innovation that is at the core of the GBA.

TOBF: In what way will the GBA stimulate new ideas?

NL: A business environment that’s all about connectivity will inevitably stimulate innovation, particularly from within APAC. There’ll be a pulling together of talent, geographically, and trade-wise into important industry hubs and corridors. These will, in turn, attract skills and put the GBA on the world map in sectors such as tech and innovation. Creativity goes hand-in-hand with sectors flourishing and businesses exploring new routes and destinations.

How this will happen is by collaborating and creating ecosystems, whereby the strengths of one area combine with those of another. As these different ways of operating come together, learning will increase and knowledge sharing. The result will be enhanced ideas. Changing consumer behaviours as a result, will also impact the flow of ideas and how they are implemented. We also can’t underestimate the effect of legal changes within the GBA for harnessing the power of cooperation.

TOBF: What cultural changes do you foresee within the development of the GBA?

NL: We’re going to see a new local culture in the GBA. The coming together of ideas, imagination, and innovation will create an emerging regional identity that crafts a new cultural narrative within APAC. There’s an element of not knowing how the GBA will map out culturally. Each moving part brings particular strengths – whether that be infrastructure, financial adeptness, industry know-how, and so on. This means that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole and the players interacting with this will define the cultural landscape.

TOBF: So, what you’re saying is that the GBA will inspire innovation and a new business culture through this interconnectedness, is that right?

NL: The GBA represents greater presence, greater reach, and greater connectivity. This acts as a huge catalyst to accelerate growth, all of which can power key individuals within businesses to inspire progress. I think of it like the jet stream in that it can impact not just China and APAC, but the whole world. Executives dealing with business development, marketing, and corporate strategy on the ground locally, can ensure a business rises and joins that accelerated flow, taking it wherever they want it to go at a different pace. Business leaders need to be aware of how this flow impacts trade, HR, opportunities, and all types of movement. It may mean that they recalibrate their destinations, not to mention their operations, logistics, and even what products and services they offer.

TOBF: How do you see creatives in the business world impacting this new GBA world?

NL: With businesses and brands redefining roles, positions, and presence in the GBA, creative industries are going to be at the forefront. There are undoubtedly going to be challenges, but the opportunities will be boundless. Creative industries in APAC and further afield are used to this multi-dimensional approach, and this will impact every aspect of business from strategy to brand design, market expansion, and stakeholder relationships.

TOBF: How can APAC executives and stakeholders make the most of the GBA changes?

NL: By being informed about the policies and mechanisms that are coming into play, those in positions of influence can work out how to integrate these changes to the advantage and interests of an enterprise. This includes being aware of the benefits as well as the challenges so that they can strategise. Being prepared is key. If market presence in China catapults an APAC business to a whole other level, for example, then each department will need a springboard in place to be able to reach these new heights. The GBA can take you there, but you need to use your resources to gather momentum to be in what will be a creative and also competitive arena. To be part of a grand plan to drive growth and innovation in the region, business leaders need a planned route too, and the ability to adapt as the GBA future unfolds.

Interested in speaking to Natalie about expanding into China or the GBA area? Book a consultation now!

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