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Six Teams Win 1.8m “Seed Fund” in the 8th HKUST-Inovance One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition in Beijing

The 2018 HKUST-Inovance One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition (BJ) “International Intelligent Robot Startup Camp + Entrepreneurship Competition” (the Competition) came to a successful end in Beijing on 28 July. Among the participating entrepreneurial teams from 30 renowned universities (including the University of London, University of Tokyo, HKUST, Tsinghua University, and University of Science and Technology of China), ten outstanding teams were chosen to present their projects in Beijing and answered questions directly from an “Angel Investment Committee”. The Committee was formed by eight HKUST EMBA alumni. Professor Li Zexiang from HKUST who incubated DJI drone, and Professor Wang Tianmiao from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics who incubated the Ninebot Balance Car, were invited to offer advice to the contestants.  

After a comprehensive assessment, the Angel Investment Committee selected six teams and awarded each team with RMB300,000 “Exploration Seed Fund”. These six teams were also given an exceptional opportunity to choose their own entrepreneurial tutors from the Committee.

Hosted by the HKUST’s School of Business and Management (HKUST Business School) Mainland China Office, this year’s competition focused on intelligent robots. The competition not only followed the professional approach developed and optimized by HKUST, but also adopted the “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” model (with Startup Camp and Entrepreneurship Competition). It aimed to let participants experience the process of turning their innovative ideas into startup. The participants benefited greatly from this activity, especially the experience from the IEEE RAS Robotic Startup Boot Camp.

In the Startup Camp, Professor Li Zexiang from the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering of HKUST (charter member of the Automation Technology Center, the “incubator” of DJI Drone, and an expert in the robotics and automation sector) advised and guided the participants to make robot prototypes. In addition, the HKUST Business School designed a “Mini-MBA” course and invited 20 MBA alumni as consultants to help the participants complete their business plans within a month.

In the competition, Professor Li Zexiang recognized the progress made by all teams in the Startup Camp. He highlighted three abilities required to be a successful entrepreneurial team: design thinking to explore potential market and consumers’ interests, engineering thinking to define and build products, and business thinking to understand the business logic. Professor Li added one more: entrepreneur thinking. He firmly believes that only entrepreneur thinking can integrate the other three abilities. Professor Li reminded all participants that the completion of the Startup Camp represented the beginning of a real entrepreneurship journey.

All the participants responded positively. They realized the one-month camp enabled them to learn more business or technical knowledge and the real meaning of innovation. By participating in the competition, they learned how to think from a marketer’s and consumer’s perspective, make new breakthroughs and improve their problem solving skills and the power of teamwork.

In recent years, more university students show interest in entrepreneurship. If they are given an opportunity to experience the process of startup and gain a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship, their odds of success will increase. The competition held by HKUST has provided such a remarkable platform.

Professor Tam Kar Yan, Dean of HKUST Business School, said students who are interested in entrepreneurship are encouraged to spring into action. For students in their early 20s, they should be able to afford to spend two or three years to make an attempt and start their own businesses. Even if they fail, the experience will be very rewarding.

Professor Wu Enboa, Associate Vice-President for Knowledge Transfer and Dean of Fok Ying Tung Graduate School at HKUST, said that the University is committed to making contributions to the society, for which innovation and entrepreneurship is an integral part. HKUST encourages students to explore the way of thinking and operation models that can generate the greatest social impacts.

Yuan Ye, Office Head of HKUST Business School Mainland China Office, indicated that this year’s competition has made a great breakthrough in innovation because instead of ranking the participating teams, the winners of the “Exploration Seed Fund” are determined by their projects. The competition is no longer between the teams, but the teams themselves.

This year’s competition has received great support from the HKUST EMBA alumni, including eight alumni entrepreneurs. Having background in robotics and smart manufacturing, they formed the Angel Investment Committee in helping young entrepreneurs grow. Inovance Tech, a company co-founded by an alumnus Pan Yi, has sponsored RMB one million to the competition, while another alumnus Huang Liwei, Yuanju Capital, along with other alumni who have successful entrepreneurial experience in the intelligence industry, founded another RMB five million “Exploration Seed Fund” (first phase) to support the Startup Camp and invested in some selected projects. In addition, XBot Park, HiApp, and Atour Hotel have also provided tremendous support for the competition.

In the age of AI and robotics, this competition has showcased the collective effort of HKUST and its innovation spirit, support and sources from alumni and the society, to offer a platform where the next generation of entrepreneurs can realize their entrepreneurial dreams. Since 2011, HKUST One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition has incubated many outstanding projects every year, including DJI drone and Yunzhou Unmanned Ship from the first competition.

In 2019, AXON Tech will become sponsor of the Competition in Beijing, and its Chairman and CEO, Mr Rao Xiang, is also HKUST EMBA alumnus.

One of the “Exploration Seed Fund” Winners
Group photo of HKUST professors, Angel Investment Committee and participants.
Dean Professor Tam Kar Yan (first right) and Associate Dean Xu Yan (first left), present the certificates to three event sponsors.
HKUST One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition Angel Investment Committee