Three Chinese educational giants have joined hands to explore language and culture publishing in the UK, in English and Chinese.
UK publishing is enjoying a healthy market. Now Innova Press has been set up both to tap the market and to find new ways in bringing information and entertainment to the readers by taking full advantage of new technologies. The Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press (FLTRP), New Oriental and Hujiang Education signed an agreement on the eve of the Beijing Book Fair in August to form the UK-based publishing house.
With offices in London and Reading, the main objectives of Innova are to assist students all over the world to prepare for work or study in English, and provide teachers with training and support for all its innovative products. Leveraging the strengths of its shareholders, Innova is also poised to publish high-quality innovative Chinese language teaching materials and materials about China and Chinese culture for the English-speaking audience.
FLTRP, affiliated to Beijing Foreign Studies University, is the largest foreign languages publisher and university press in China. Each year, around 1,000 new titles are published by FLTRP in about 50 different languages. The 38-year-old press has already established a cultural business entity in the UK before forming a Confucius Institute with Oxford Brookes University as co-partner, and has explored the language-learning market in the UK and Europe.
New Oriental, the largest non-State language training institution in China, has been importing UK publishing content for its training materials, and placing Chinese students in European colleges and universities.
Hujiang, the other junior partner in the publishing venture, is very successful in provideng mobile and online platforms for 150 million language learners from China and abroad.
The idea of establishing a UK-based publishing houseoriginated from the founding of FLTRP (UK) Ltd earlier by Ms Fan Xiaohong, President of FLTRP (UK) and the host of the launch ceremony at the Beijing headquarters of FLTRP. As Fan recalled, “Three years ago, I started thinking about the best way to take advantage of FLTRP and to develop our business in the UK and even Europe. It was around that time that I started to picture and plan for a new publishing house.” With the support of Hujiang and New Oriental, the plan has now become reality.
“The FLTRP–New Oriental–Hujiang partnership is a milestone in FLTRP’s quest for innovative cooperation. We three join hands together with an aim to better meet learners’ needs around the world with high-quality ELT and CLT materials, as well as to provide readers with innovative books on China and Chinese culture. We will be dedicated to making Innova a model in the Sino-UK creative industry,” said Cai Jianfeng, President of FLTRP. Innova will be well-positioned to target global audiences and become a strong platform for further cultural exchanges between the two industries and countries. “We are excited about this partnership with FLTRP and New Oriental, which will provide first-class online learning products and services for the global audience,” said Fu Cairui,President of Hujiang Ed Tech.
“We are proud of our joint efforts with FLTRP and Hujiang in establishing a brand-new publishing company, which will definitely help to enrich New Oriental’s business scope and enhance our reputation on the global stage,” said Yu Minhong, President of New Oriental Group.
New grounds – new challenges
He Haoyu, Vice President of FLTRP, will be the chair of Innova Press Limited. But the company has appointed three British senior executives to run the new venture. Richard Peacock, an old hand in ELT publishing, will be the President, while Shirong Chen, an experienced media and cultural professional, will serve as Senior Vice President, with special responsibility for CLT and China-related products. And Terry Phillips will be the business development director.
In his acceptance speech, Mr Peacock expressed his confidence in Innova, saying, “We are indeed privileged to be working with such influential and cutting-edge partners. As I believe the Chinese saying goes, all things are difficult before they are easy, and the coming year or two will involve a lot of hard work and many challenges. But with the support and good will of our partners, we are confident that we will achieve our goal of becoming a leading and truly innovative international publisher.”
Hard work and challenges there will be. Hours after the launch of Innova Press, Bloomsbury Publishing, an independent publisher listed on the London Stock Exchange, announced that they are setting up a subsidiary,Bloomsbury China, to take further advantage of China’s rise on the world stage and the increasing global interest in things Chinese.
In such a competitive environment, the Innova Press will have to find truly innovative ways to serve the needs of the new generation of global learners, drawing inspiration from its major shareholder FLTRP to “record human civilisation and bridge different cultures.”