20 Silicon Valley techies win Chunhui bid

Updated: 2013-09-17 11:10

By Yu Wei in San Francisco (China Daily)

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20 Silicon Valley techies win Chunhui bid

Chinese Consul General in San Francisco Yuan Nansheng (right) and Ken Xie, founder and CEO of Fortinet, served as judges at the finals of the 8th Chunhui Cup Chinese Oversea Students Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition of San Francisco Bay Area on Sunday in Santa Clara Convention Center. Yu Wei / China Daily

Silicon Valley's growing number of Chinese entrepreneurs has turned the technology hub into a branch venue for an annual Beijing-based contest that encourages overseas Chinese high-tech talent to come back to work in their homeland.

The 8th annual Chunhui Cup Chinese Overseas Students Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition of the San Francisco Bay Area kicked off on Sunday. Some 40 projects were chosen from a number of entries to compete for first and second prizes and the right to go to the finals in China.

Sponsored by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China, the Chunhui Cup competition is now in its eighth year since it debuted in 2006. Previous contests have selected nearly 1,184 innovative and entrepreneurial programs and more than 300 of those - at least - are now working businesses operating in China.

"This is the first time that the Chunhui Cup set up a sub-contest in San Francisco," said Chinese Consul General in San Francisco Yuan Nansheng. "The move was warmly welcomed by overseas students and scholars on the West Coast." The Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco is one of the co-organizers for the Bay Area competition.

Yuan says this extra outreach will offer more overseas Chinese talents on the West Cost of the US access to the competition. The San Francisco competition has received 147 entries since registration began in April and 120 programs qualified, accounting for 44 percent of total programs worldwide this year.

Out of the 120 qualifiers, 40 programs stood out, and of those, 20 programs finally claimed a first prize. Projects ranged from Internet and biopharmaceuticals to new energy and environmental protection.

Li Yifan, a recent PhD graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose environmental related program has crowned the first prize, said he and his team decided to apply for the Chunhui Cup when they heard the competition was about China, which is their startup's target market, where they see a huge demand for their system.

"Our technology enables enterprises to monitor their pollution results in real time and create plans to minimize it," Li said. "Due to the nature of this online monitoring technology, it prevents both user and vendor from cheating the system. In addition, it enjoys the benefits of high bandwidth and high accuracy, which are very important in a monitoring device."

Li looks forward to going to China for the final round of the competition. "We want to show what me and my team have and make a contribution towards environmental protection there," he said.

The competition is not only attractive to those young startup entrepreneurs, but also drew in experienced entrepreneurs like Lu Minghua, another first prize winner and CEO of eChinachem, an integrated Chinese media company for the chemical, pharmaceutical and life science industries.

Lu brought his startup called 360Guanxi.com, a supply chain platform for companies and professionals to build up micro-portals for their products and technology.

Lu said the opportunity to reach a bigger audience is what made him enter the Chunhui Cup.

"The Chunhui Cup is very reputable and famous competition and this is national level contest that has a very good brand," Lu said.

Lu, who graduated from Yale in the early '90s, said the reason he is founding a new company is because he has personally observed the tremendous growth in Chinese industries.

"For many of our business customers, their personal wealth and their companies have grown because of the tremendous growth in China. We ourselves have also benefited from this era, so what we want to do is to focus more on China," Lu said.

Consul General Yuan said San Francisco was loaded with talent. "I have no doubt that contestants from San Francisco will achieve a significant breakthrough in the end," he added.


(China Daily USA 09/17/2013 page2)