A meeting at IDO headquarters on April 11 became a virtual ‘High-Tech Summit’. Attendees from the Jacksonville Community of Entrepreneurs, Jacksonville City Council, the Council on Economic Development and JJ Atlantic Investment Group were joined by emerging technology company, Lumbee Group and the head of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to discuss opportunities for closer relationships and a greater exchange of knowledge and expertise.

Professor Yang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences spoke enthusiastically about the opportunity to develop high speed rail in the US, the long-overdue upgrade to domestic transportation infrastructure, and conversely, the need to dramatically upgrade training assets for China’s growing civil aviation industry.

It’s hard to image an occasion where so much intellectual power and sincere enthusiasm were present in the same room. In a relaxed 30 minute conversation, Mr. Yang outlined opportunities of that were audacious in scale, yet imminently practical and readily accomplishable – like common sense riding a bolt of lightning.

Highlights of the discussion included China’s willingness to fully finance the initial investments in high-speed rail, and the use of IDO Free Trade Zones as locations for equipment assembly, which would comply with the US requirement for domestic manufacturing. The Chinese technology is more cost effective than competitors from Germany and France, and Florida provides the perfect geography to prove the concept. The US could catch up on 30 years of progress in rail transportation, and IDO could provide the space and logistical support to build the rail cars in the US.

Mr. Yang described a true exchange of technology, equating the implementation of high speed rail with the need for China to upgrade its civil aviation industry. Boeing estimates that China will need 100,000 trained pilots over the next decade, but only has resources to train 5000. They will need equipment, simulators and updated training programs to satisfy the need. Even among the group assembled at IDO with many years of experience in international trade, the magnitude of these opportunities was uniquely inspiring.

IDO is committed to connecting international partners from industry, finance and government, to identify and promote mutually beneficial exchanges between countries all over the world. This meeting dramatically raised the awareness of what is possible through this cooperation.

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