China-Britain Regional Initiative
Rob Avery-Phipps is the founder of The China Britain Regional Initiative (CBRI), a company that focuses on increasing dialogue, exchanges, and projects between the UK and China. CBRI provides innovative regional solutions for councils and higher education institutions to boost connections, trade, relations, and culture between these countries.
CBRI has bases in both Nottingham and Shanghai and was founded by Rob after he completed his Masters’ degree at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, making him the first person to get a degree from this campus from Nottingham. Whilst studying abroad, he realised the scope of international-relations opportunities that could connect the UK and China and started his business to address regional relations between these countries.
COVID-19 particularly hindered his demand for work and impacted his ability to travel.
“Since the pandemic, things have changed quite a bit. There’s been a shift in political attitudes and people’s attitudes towards China, so there was a reduced demand for what my business originally offered. I’ve had to refocus my business on technology and education to try and keep the business going, which is why and where the support from BIPC came in.”
During this time, Rob found business support with the Business & IP Centre Nottinghamshire and received one-to-one mentoring with their delivery partner Smorgasbord, which helped him transition through the pandemic and pivot his business. From his sessions with business and sales strategist, Patrick Burge, Rob received practical and personal support to help improve and develop his pitch for acquiring UK clients.
“The support being made available in the area is incredibly helpful. Firstly, it was practical help I received and as it was 1-2-1 business support, it was tailored to me and my business, which meant that it was so valuable. It’s not always that easy running a small business, so to have this support locally, helping a local business feels so positive and encouraging.”
CBRI’s proudest moment?
“My proudest moment in business was when I was working with Nottingham City Council and I was involved with getting the Chinese stone lions and installing them in University Park. It’s so symbolic to me seeing other people enjoy them. When I walk past as it symbolises the UK-China relationships I’ve helped support.”
Rob’s best piece of advice to aspiring business owners:
“If you’re looking to start a company, just start it. I spent a lot of time making business plans before starting my business. Whilst it’s good to have a plan, unless you have something set up, you’re going nowhere. Get the practical things in place and if you don’t enjoy the jobs, find people who do.”
Outside of his business, Rob can be found:
“I love the Peak District so much; cycling, running, or mountain biking, so that’s where I can be found – or not found – easily.”
And most impactful book:
“There are lots, but I don’t read because I’m dyslexic, so I use audio-books. Since discovering Audible I really enjoy books and have listened to loads. The most impactful book is Wild Swans, which is about three generations of Chinese women growing up over the past century. It’s an incredible read! It’s amazing to compare the changes in China to the changes in the UK over the same time period.”