Five startups won a combined $5 million in investment commitments and $100,000 in cash at the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund/HSBC Jumpstarter 2020 pitch competition this week. The winners also gained access to the Alibaba ecosystem for resources, insights and networking opportunities to scale their businesses.
After two days of intensive pitching, the winning teams emerged from 40 finalists – shortlisted from over 2,000 applicants in the retail, fintech, smart cities and advanced-technology sectors. The top five teams included Shenzhen-based Asia Regenerative Medicine, San Francisco-based Snipfeed, The Block Ledger from Melbourne and Hong Kong’s Fano Labs Ltd. and Ecoinno.
“We want to contribute to improving and extending the human lifespan,” said Zheng Lixin, founder of Asia Regenerative Medicine, a biotech startup dedicated to organ repair and regeneration. ARM researches and develops new solutions to restore damaged organs, such as kidneys and livers, and creates artificial ones to ease the shortage of donated organs for patients who need transplants.
“We’re very grateful to Alibaba and Hong Kong’s Jumpstarter program for building a platform such as this and hope to attract more scientists from Hong Kong and around the world to join our team,” Zheng said. “Together we could speed up the development of quality, affordable organs for clinical treatments for the benefit of patients.”
Jumpstarter was launched in 2017 as a non-profit initiative to invigorate the Hong Kong startup ecosystem but has since evolved into a platform that celebrates young entrepreneurs from across the globe. For the first time in its three-edition run, Jumpstarter held its preliminary round of pitch events in eight cities, including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, London, San Francisco and Toronto.
During the finale this week, the competition’s 40 finalists logged in from all corners of the globe to present their business ideas to a judging panel of industry leaders via livestream, making Jumpstarter 2020 the world’s largest online pitch contest for startups. Organizers said more than 20,000 people from 100 countries and regions participated in the two-day event by watching the competition live, voting for their favorite startups and viewing related content on the Jumpstarter website.
“By substantially expanding the scale of the competition with start-up pitching events across the Asia Pacific, Canada, Europe and the U.S., we are truly putting Jumpstarter on the global stage, welcoming incredible young entrepreneurs from around the world and connecting them with amazing opportunities,” said Cindy Chow, executive director of the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, which organizes the Jumpstarter competition each year in partnership with Invest HK, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd., Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp. and Cyberport.
Chow added that they were impressed by the caliber of the innovative, viable business plans proposed by contenders this year. “I hope that all participants in Jumpstarter 2020 can benefit from the process and gain useful experiences that can help them achieve their entrepreneurial dreams,” she said.
Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, urged the finalists to persevere in the face of the coronavirus outbreak and geopolitical challenges that may come their way.
“An entrepreneurial spirit is one that will never give up,” Tsai said. “We should all stay committed to the values we believe in as we continue towards our mission and vision. Entrepreneurs also need to hire good people and work with talent to achieve sustainable development, which is a crucial step for startups to achieve their dreams.”