The grand finale of The Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund / HSBC JUMPSTARTER 2022 Global Pitch Competition (“JUMPSTARTER 2022”) was held on March 30 and 31. After a series of intense pitching sessions, Gense Technologies, a portable medical imaging device developer, and Open Ocean Engineering, a zero-emission electric boat inventor (in no particular order) were named as winners among the top ten startups.
Gense, a startup based in Hong Kong, offers an affordable and portable self-help medical imaging device for early detection and management of some of the world’s costliest liver, lung, and kidney diseases. Another Hong Kong startup, Open Ocean Engineering, makes zero-emission self-driving electric boats. With a vision to become the “Tesla of boats,” Open Ocean is pioneering the global transition towards a net-zero marine future.
The two winning startups were entitled to share an investment of up to USD 4 million in total, including co-investment from Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), the co-organizers of JUMPSTARTER 2022. The top ten finalists will also have the opportunity to participate in exchange programs arranged by Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund (AEF) to explore the Greater Bay Area (GBA) market through interactions with startups and corporations in Hong Kong or other cities in the GBA.
Due to the pandemic, JUMPSTARTER 2022 was once again held online, with applications from more than 600 startups from more than 60 countries and regions around the world. Startups from Greater China were the most active among the applicants, accounting for 54% of the total. The top five regional application rankings were Hong Kong, mainland China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. With the support of collaboration partners, more than 120 semi-pitch sessions were held online, demonstrating the passion of startups and their supporters, even amid the pandemic.
This year’s competition focused on five sectors, including sustainability, healthcare, deep tech, fintech, and art tech. Among the shortlisted teams, the sustainability category saw the highest proportion of entries, with 20% related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG). This year’s newly added sector, healthcare and pharmaceutical biology, also saw a large number of entries. Due to the global impact of COVID-19, it was no surprise that the healthcare sector had such a high number of entries, with medical equipment and testing & diagnostics being two of the most popular areas. The judging panel was also delighted to see that there is great scope for the advancement of medical technology. Meanwhile, most of the ESG-related applications focused on the environment, such as carbon reduction technologies, reflecting the increasing importance of ESG.
“As the global market continued to be challenged by the pandemic over the past year, we were encouraged to see that many startups had maintained a swift and innovative mindset, empowering themselves to face adversity during the pandemic,” said Cindy Chow, executive director of the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund. “Entering its fifth year, JUMPSTARTER added new categories, such as healthcare and sustainability, and it was great to see many outstanding sustainability startups, most of which are from Hong Kong. Compared to previous years, they are more ingenious and technically advanced, with solutions such as carbon reduction technology and anti-virus coating. With the support from Cyberport, HKSTP, and a number of sponsors and organizations, we will provide more extensive resources for startups in nurturing the growth of the innovation ecosystem.”
JUMPSTARTER 2022 is an excellent platform for up-and-coming talents to showcase bright ideas and realize their dreams. As title sponsor of the competition, we are delighted to see such entrepreneurial spirit and dedication in bringing positive, long-term impact to the society from the contestants,” said Christina Ong, head of business banking, commercial banking, Hong Kong, HSBC. “HSBC is committed to facilitating innovation ecosystem development in Hong Kong, and we look forward to supporting more startups to become new driving forces of the local economy.”
“Innovation and technology has continued to foster global social and economic development. During the pandemic, we have once again witnessed the driving force of innovative technology steering society ahead steadily under the new normal. JUMPSTARTER 2022 engenders a platform for outstanding startups to showcase innovative solutions that tackle problems and add new value to the community,” said Peter Yan, CEO of Cyberport. “By advancing the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Hong Kong, we endeavor to uncover and bolster more promising startups, paving the way for them to grasp opportunities brought by new national and regional developments.”
“Hong Kong’s I&T ecosystem has all-round support from stakeholders to serve as an effective cradle for budding entrepreneurs,” said Albert Wong, CEO of HKSTP. “JUMPSTARTER 2022 Global Pitch Competition is an excellent example of how different sectors can work together to deliver a great platform for startups to seize the opportunities in Hong Kong and the GBA. We look forward to collaborating further with Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund and other organizations and enterprises in the GBA to grow our I&T ecosystem.”
Since its establishment, AEF has invested over USD 80 million into nearly 60 startups, attracting co-investment funding of more than USD 2 billion. Its investment portfolio covers a wide range of areas, including e-commerce, educational technology, fintech, green technology, logistics, and medical and healthcare.
Additionally, JUMPSTARTER 2022 hosted a public grand finale at K11 MUSEA in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, from May 12 to May 15, to showcase the top ten JUMPSTARTER 2022 finalists. One of the highlights was a large-scale immersive digital wall that integrated with art technology in cooperation with Japanese artist Akiko Yamashita for the public to experience creative art and understand the global entrepreneurial community.
These were the teams recognized for their innovative solutions during JUMPSTARTER 2022:
- Gense Technologies, Hong Kong (winning team): Gense offers an affordable and portable self-help medical imaging device for the early detection and management of some of the world’s costliest liver, lung and kidney diseases. Developed as a home-based medical imaging modality to assist telemedicine, the imaging scan is powered by cloud-based machine learning algorithms and can be self-administered by users who have no substantive operative training.
- Open Ocean Engineering, Hong Kong (winning team and Best Presentation Award): Open Ocean Engineering has ambitions of creating the world’s largest infrastructure for marine services. With a vision to become the “Tesla of boats,” Open Ocean is pioneering the global transition towards a net-zero marine future.
- Carbon Infinity, United Kingdom (Sustainability Award): Carbon Infinity is developing a climate technology known as “direct air capture,” removing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and storing it durably as a carbon removal solution. Carbon Infinity is also developing carbon-neutral synthetic petrochemicals and fuels for long-distance transportation to de-fossilize impossible-to-decarbonize sectors for a net-negative economy.
- Grand Technology, Hong Kong (Environmental Impact Award): Grand Rise Technology focuses on biomaterials-based coating applications to provide greener and safer materials for a sustainable environment. The technology, which is based on patented core-shell particle technology platform InnoCoatex, enables a new class of amphiphilic core-shell nanoparticles for a wide range of applications such as antimicrobial coating and extending the shelf life of fruit.
- VoiceAI Technologies, Mainland China (Top Innovation Award): VoiceAI Technologies is an innovative AI company, focusing on speech analysis. It owns a full stack of acoustic and speech processing technologies dedicated to activating and reconstructing the value of speech data, while helping customers to improve their capabilities in risk control, compliance management, and marketing.
- VastBiome, Hong Kong (Best Presentation Award): VastBiome is a DNA-first drug discovery company mapping the human gut microbiome in pursuit of novel medicines for cancer and autoimmune disease. VastBiome’s discovery platform leverages rich metagenome sequencing, cell-free expression, and AI to identify potent natural compounds, and to scale and extend those products through synthetic biology.
The Ying Wa Girls’ School’s CityOasis project was the winner of the JUMPSTARTER IdeaPOP! 2022 Secondary School Students competition. Meanwhile, the Vocational Training Council’s TSG Platform won the JUMPSTARTER IdeaPOP! 2022 Tertiary Students contest for undergraduates, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Planeteers HK was the winning project in the postgraduates section.
The judges of JUMPSTARTER 2022 also shared their comments.
Austin R. Bryan, chief digital officer, CLP Holdings Limited:
Digitalization, decarbonization, and electrification are key game changers for 21st century utilities. To capture these opportunities, utilities need to accelerate the growth of new technologies and services. Collaboration is key to winning in this dynamic market environment, and utilities need to stay connected with innovative startup partners and ecosystems.
Andrew Lo, CEO and executive director, Crystal Group:
I am thrilled to see many startups driving innovation and technology with the vision of resolving different issues. My heartfelt congratulations to the winner of the Environmental Impact Award. I encourage joint efforts from both top-notch companies and evolutionary startups to seize the boundless opportunities for building sustainable communities and addressing global challenges. Sustainability is also a primary focus of Crystal International. Let us gear towards the betterment of our future.
Suzanne Cheng, CFO, Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holding Limited:
I could feel the passion of the different startups and was delighted that most teams have focused not only on commercially profitable projects, but also on sustainability, taking a long-term vision on the protection of the environment. I am also impressed with the innovative uses of AI in voice recognition and speech analysis in financial institutions to reduce fraud and improve compliance. We look forward to seeing how 5G technology can take these startups even further in their admirable aspirations.
The final round for the Alibaba Entrepreneur Fund / HSBC JUMPSTARTER 2022 Global Pitch Competition took place on March 30 and March 31, 2022. The event’s winner was selected from ten finalists and announced in April. For more information about JUMPSTARER 2022, please visit http://www.jumpstarter.hk.