Young entrepreneurs get a lift in Seattle

Updated: 2014-04-07 07:40

By DENG YU in Seattle (

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The Lyceum conference room at University of Washington was packed with more than 500 people on Saturday for the final presentations of the China Business Challenge (CBC) and the China Entrepreneur Forum.

The event was the culmination of the CBC, which was started on Jan 16 by the China Entrepreneur Network at the University of Washington and Confucius Institute of the State of Washington (CIWA). The CBC is a business plan competition, a series of events and a final forum that aim at providing valuable opportunities and a platform for students and the community for improving entrepreneurship and innovation skills.

Young entrepreneurs get a lift in Seattle

Opening remark by Connie Bourassa Shaw, Director of Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at University of Washington in Seattle, on April 6, 2014. [Photo by Deng Yu/]

Connie Bourassa Shaw, director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington, and Rebecca Lovell, startup liaison for the City of Seattle, gave opening remarks congratulating the students for their passion and efforts and expressed their full support.

Keynote speaker Julia Liuson, corporate vice-president at Microsoft, then talked about innovation and creativity. She also shared her insights into the entrepreneurship environment in China and encouraged students to "really live in China" if they were interested in founding a start-up there.

Young entrepreneurs get a lift in Seattle

The team with a project of Chinese Radio Seattle win the Grand prize at China Business Challenge Competition host at University of Washington in Seattle, on April 6, 2014. [Photo by Deng Yu/]

The six CBC finalist teams each gave a five-minute pitch and another five minutes of QA, to compete for the grand prize, best-China related plan, best presentation and other awards. A total of 35 students from the University of Washington participated in both competitions. A project called Seattle Chinese Radio won the grand price of $1,000 for their idea of starting the first and only Chinese radio station in Washington State.

Jonathan Cheng, a fourth year graduate student in bioengineering, and his team were chosen to be one of the six teams in the finals on Saturday. Their project aimed to alleviate rural poverty with a clay pipe irrigation system.

"I wanted to do this competition because I wanted to spread my ideas," he said. "I just met someone who is really interested in my ideas. I wanted to get this exposure and experience."

In the last 3 years, CBC has attracted more than 150 student and professional startup teams and has created a powerful platform for connecting these teams with entrepreneurial advisors, investors and resources. This is the fourth CBC run by CEN Global and is its first time at UW.

The goal of CBC is to help realize win-win results by connecting startup teams and advisors, facilitating US-China collaborations, enriching the diversity and culture at UW and the Greater Seattle region, encouraging students and local talents to develop innovative ways of solving social and environmental issues and providing hands-on entrepreneurial experiences for students.

The China Entrepreneur Network has 11 University chapters in the US, China and Canada. It has over 100 advisors from related fields, including world renowned scholars, entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders. The CEN at the University of Washington (CEN-UW) was established in January 2013 with the mission to convene, cultivate and support youth leaders to engage in social innovation and entrepreneurship, and to promote sustainable development - culturally, economically and ecologically.

"CIWA is glad to see many American students and students from many other countries also participating in the competition and the forum. These are students who are interested in China and interested in doing business with China or even starting a business in China," said Deng Bo, Chinese director of the Confucius Institute of the State of Washington.