Japanese startup BionicM, which combines robotics with the human body to develop prosthetics limbs to allow disabled people to walk, emerged as the grand winner of the recently concluded Elevator Pitch Competition 2019 (EPiC).
The Tokyo-based company also won in the artificial intelligence and robotics category and claimed the cash prize of US$100,000. BionicM provides mobility technology and related solutions for lower limb amputees. The team started R&D on robotic prosthetic legs at the University of Tokyo in 2015.
Organised by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), EPiC is an annual competition that had just marked its fourth year. In 2019, over 126 top-notch startups from 33 countries presented their business pitch vying for cash prizes of over HK$1 million.
All the start-ups focused on four technology areas – artificial intelligence and robotics, Fintech, health technology and smart city.
The other winners of this year’s EPiC are the following:
- Fintech category: Osome (Singapore)
- Health technology: OaCP (Italy)
- Smart city: Eco Packers (Canada)
- My Favourite pitcher: Eco Packers (Canada)
“EPiC is HKSTP’s platform to provide start-ups the most direct form of support and networking opportunities, where they can collaborate and share experiences,” said Albert Wong, CEO of HKSTP. “The growing number of entries and diversity of contestants in this year’s competition is proof of Hong Kong’s attraction to entrepreneurial talent and investors as an innovation and technology hub.”
A record number of 650 applications from 48 countries were received in the first round of entries, and more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, venture capital firms, angel investors, industry players, incubators, accelerators and tech disruptors came together in Hong Kong at the final day of competition last week.
Seventeen countries joined the competition for the first time, such as Argentina, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Russia, to name a few.
All 126 finalists were given the opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas to judges in a one-minute elevator ride at the International Commerce Centre (ICC), Hong Kong’s tallest building. The best 10 ideas were given another three-minute opportunity to pitch to the panel of judges, made up of investors and industry leaders. The competition gave the finalists a chance to connect with other like-minded innovators from around the globe, to share experiences and knowledge while taking part in a friendly competition.
To better equip the contestants and other overseas startups with all-round knowledge and pitching techniques, as well as a better understanding of the resources and support programmes available to them in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, HKSTP’s Global Acceleration Academy hosted a three-day business exploration tour before the competition.
The tour featured activities such as sharing sessions on topics like digital marketing, company structure and taxation in Hong Kong and China, Asian business culture, and networking opportunities with business partners across industries.
Looking at cross-border co-investments
Another highlight of the tour was the Angel x Corporate Venture Conference 2019, co-organised with the Hong Kong Business Angel Network (HKBAN).
The conference explored cross-border co-investment and acquisition opportunities, and attracted over 200 start-ups, venture capitalists, angel investors and regional incubators to share investment strategies and insights.
The incubators and accelerators highlighted the opportunities and challenges faced by early-stage startups in fund-raising and the help they need in expanding their market footprints in Asia. Four HKSTP park companies and incubatees - Phase Scientific, Hanson Robotics, Intensel and Fundpark showcased their innovations at the conference.
“We will continue our mission to grow the I&T ecosystem in Hong Kong with unwavering focus. The fact that more overseas contestants, investors and VC representatives attended the EPiC competition than ever before shows that our work is yielding solid results. We must continue our efforts to create opportunities for our next generations. The overwhelming support from local and global investment communities demonstrates their vote of confidence in these innovators and their brilliant ideas, and that they are ready to help take these ideas to the next levels,” Wong said.