Innovation Talks. Eric X. Li

Jun 06 2018 - 6.00 p.m. - Bologna Business School - Via degli Scalini 18 - Bologna

The sixth appointment with the Innovation Talks of the Spring Edition will host Eric X. Li, political scientist as well as Founder and Managing Director of Chengwei Capital, a private equity and venture capital firm specializing in start-up, early and expansion stage investments. Soft Power is Dying – Softly is the title of the speech during which he will discuss the ability of persuasion of a political system together with Romano Prodi, Chairman of the Steering Committee of BBS. The event is organized in collaboration with Philip Morris Italia


Eric X. Li was born in Shanghai and studied in the United States, where he received his Bachelors from Berkeley and his MBA from Stanford. In the same period he also worked for the 1992 Ross Perot presidential campaign. During his stay in the United States he began to doubt the idea that China’s progress should simply follow the path traced by the West’s free-market principles. 

In a much-discussed op-ed he wrote for the New York Times in February 2012, he has put forth the idea that China needed a different development framework, around a different idea of modernity. The Chinese system, he says, is meritocratic, highly adaptable despite the one-party rule, long term-oriented, pragmatic and non-individualistic. As he writes: “The Chinese political system … comes close to the best formula for governing a large country: meritocracy at the top, democracy at the bottom, with room for experimentation in between.” 

It’s a standard assumption in the West: As a society progresses, it eventually becomes a capitalist, multi-party democracy. Eric X. Li, criticized by some as an exaggerated supporter of Chinese exceptionalism, but at ease in the role of provocateur, during his TED Talk he asks his audience to consider that there’s more than one way to run a successful modern nation.

Eric X. Li is also the founder of Chengwei Capital in Shanghai. Chengwei’s portfolio includes over 50 companies operating in a wide range of industries such as manufacturing, consumer goods, education, the Internet, oil and gas.

Li also serves on the board of directors of China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, his native city, and the board of CEIBS Ghana, the school’s branch in Africa. Li is a frequent contributor to leading publications such as The New York Times, Huffington Post, South China Morning Post, Christian Science Monitor, and the Global Times.


The event, dedicated to the BBS Community, will be held in English with simultaneous translation in English. In order to participate it is necessary to register.