Shanghai, pictured here, is one of three cities on the itinerary, along with Beijing and Hangzhou.

Are you an Atlanta startup leader with a thriving business, or even a student with a well-designed business plan? China wants you for a two-week entrepreneurial exchange this summer.

The World Affairs Council of Atlanta’s Young Leaders are helping the Confucius Institute at Georgia State University recruit 35-and-under innovators for the July 2-15 program.

Nine participants from Atlanta will join up with about 30 others from the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia in China’s top-tier tech cities — Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, the home of e-commerce Alibaba — to interface with Chinese innovators and learn more about the country’s startup and technology ecosystems. Visits are planned to hacker spaces, chuangke maker cafes and homegrown tech success stories. University lectures are also on the itinerary.

Priority will be given to applicants in the fields of Internet, international trade and business, the sharing economy and cultural industry.

Home to the massive Internet censorship apparatus known as the Great Firewall, China may not be best known for the openness of its technology scene. American tech giants like Google and Facebook, for instance, have been effectively locked out of the market over censorship concerns.

But homegrown giants have emerged to fill the void, and the country known as the world’s factory floor can now lay claim to some serious startup chutzpah, with founders facing an array of hurdles on some fronts but government support on others.

Tech upstarts have tweaked business models to China’s unique market conditions, taking the global lead in sectors like drone manufacturing (DJI), smartphones (Huawei, ZTE and Xiaomi), electric cars (BYD), ride-hailing (Didi Chuxing), genetics, e-commerce, social media (WeChat) and financial tech. Ironically for a centrally directed economy, some sectors are less heavily regulated than in the U.S., making it easier for startups to experiment.

Those on the trip will learn more about this ecosystem through a program run by three Chinese universities in partnership with Hanban, the central government agency that administers the Confucius Institutes worldwide.

Applicants must be members of the World Affairs Council Young Leaders (you can join to apply), under 35 and non-Chinese citizens (Americans or not) living in Georgia.

After filling out the application form, applicants must submit a two-minute introductory video about their startup motivation and day-to-day activities.

This trip is a more narrowly focused version of the Confucius China Studies Program. Last year, the World Affairs Council under Hanban’s direction put together the Young Leaders China Fellowship, which organizers were hoping would be replicated this year. Last year’s fellows work at major companies around Atlanta and have been active sharing their experiences around the city.

Apply for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Study Tour here.

Applications must be sent to Paulina Guzman at, who can also answer questions about the program.

See more details below:

China Innovation Study Tour

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...