Start-ups compete for $155k prize in tech innovation competition
By Yang Shanshan

Who will be the next unicorn? Hundreds of tech start-ups competed for a share of 1 million yuan ($155,000) in prize money for innovation at the Zhongguancun International Frontline Technology Innovation Competition held over the past week.

The start-ups came from a range of sectors, including biomedicine, artificial intelligence, big data and cloud service.

Beijing Intelligent Nanomedicine Biotechnology is commercializing intelligent nanorods for medical use. They won the first prize in the biomedical branch. They will compete in December for the final contest with prize winners from 11 other branches.

"We joined this competition hoping to get good quality funding and policy support. We also hope we can get guidelines from industry experts," said Shi Quanwei, general manager of Beijing Intelligent Nanomedicine Biotech.

Beijing's municipal government has hosted the competition since July, which will select winners from 12 branches to compete in the final contest in December. Two branch winners in biomedicine and integrated circuit were announced at the Zhongguancun Forum on September 28. The final top three winners will be announced in December and will share a cash prize of 1 million yuan. Besides, the top three start-ups in each of the 12 branches will be reviewed by the experts, and if they pass the review, they will also qualify for 5 million yuan (about $770,000) in funding over the next three years for development.

For most start-ups, the pain point is raising financing for their development. To solve this problem, the host also built a finance service platform to help participant companies to get funding. This will also help start-ups connect with investors and industry experts.

"We want to attract good start-ups to move into our frontline technology innovation center. We will provide the funding, property, personnel training and policy support. By doing this we want to build Beijing into an innovation center," said Liu Hang, secondary inspector of the Zhongguancun Administrative Committee.

The Zhongguancun International Frontline Technology Innovation Competition was established in 2017 and is open to global start-ups. Some 4,000 companies have taken part since its creation, 39 of which have developed into unicorns and seven have successfully had initial public offerings overseas.

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