Contest nurtures cross-border tech startups
Updated: 2013-01-18 11:11
By Chen Jia in Santa Clara, California (China Daily)
Wei Yu, president of Lyxia Corp, a Los Angeles biotechnology company, and his business partner Matthew Han, a MBA graduated from UCLA Anderson, make a presentation last weekend at a tech-startup contest in Santa Clara, California. Chen Jia / China Daily
Silicon Valley's growing ranks of China-focused technology financiers recently brought entrepreneurs to an annual contest that identifies US-Chinese startups.
Win in the 21st Century, sponsored by the US-China Association of High-Level Professionals, winnowed the number of contestants to 10 in last weekend's final stage of a selection process that began with 500 teams from across North America.
Top prizes of $50,000 and $25,000 went, respectively, to Los Angeles-based Acton Inc to develop its SpnKix motorized roller skates ($699 a pair) and New York's Nopsec Inc to nurture its business of providing on-demand enterprise security software and services.
Contest organizers said all 10 finalists will receive one year of free management coaching from experienced investors about developing a business, finance, risk management and preparation for an initial public offering of stock.
Wei Yu, founder of Lyxia Corp, was happy his Los Angeles biotechnology company was among the top 10. He said the contest was a great place for networking, especially with potential investors.
"Before this, I knew little about investors from China; this time, I got to know several mentors, and this will definitely help my professional career and business in the future," he said.
The contest, now in its third year, drew a contingent of local officials and business-incubator specialists from China, said Roy Kong, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor who heads the US-China Association of High-Level Professionals.
Among these were representatives of Beijing-based Zhongguancun Science Park and the northern Chinese city of Tianjin's Binhai New Area. They were eager to connect with tech professionals of Chinese descent who could bring ideas and projects to China.
Kong's association is working with the TEEC (Tsinghua Executive Entrepreneur Club) Angel Fund, which promotes innovation and entrepreneurship, and other institutional and individual investors.
In its first year, only two Chinese science and technology parks took part in the contest, Kong said.
This time, representatives of six parks and various municipal entities from China came, seeking US-educated Chinese personnel and advanced technologies.
"Well-planned infrastructure construction, a convenient traffic system and high-quality educational resources help us compete for international talent," said Chen Wenliang, a member of the science and technology commission in Binhai New Area, a special zone to develop financial services and advanced manufacturing.
He said "at least three" of the 10 contest finalists had expressed interest in doing business in the Tianjin special zone. It consists of 11 cities within a 500-kilometer radius, each with a population of more than 1 million.
The city of Tianjin and the Binhai New Area have been planning six major industries - microelectronics, metal and steel, automobile and auto-parts manufacturing, chemical engineering, modern medicine and renewable energy.
Chen said the region has adopted policies to encourage highly skilled people to relocate there, such as a fund providing startups with 5 million yuan ($800,000) to 20 million yuan in seed capital, and low-interest government-backed loans of up to 10 million yuan.
Incoming transplants from abroad could get financial assistance in settling their families in the area.
"To move fast, entrepreneurs from the US, venture capitalists and high-tech science parks from China all need a good platform to cooperate and benefit from each other," said Chen Xiaoqing, a program manager with Hua Yuan Science and Technology Association in Silicon Valley.