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After taking place across three continents, the Huawei Cloud Startup Ignite Competition, formerly known as the Huawei Spark Ignite Competition, debuted in Hong Kong this year. The tech giant’s decision to expand this competition, part of its overall acceleration program, to Hong Kong is a strategic move aimed at strengthening the region as an innovation and technology hub ( I&T).
Bering Lab, an AI-powered automated translation solution for legal professionals, emerged as the overall winner among the 15 finalist startups selected to participate in the Huawei Cloud Startup Ignite competition held at Sky100 in Hong Kong on October 17.
Bering Lab will then be entered into the “Accelerate” level, an acceleration program designed by Huawei Cloud to enable the winning team to compete on the global stage at SLINGSHOT 2023, which will take place in Singapore.
Since 2020, the accelerator program has received an impressive number of over 5,000 applications. To date, it has welcomed more than 180 portfolio companies into its ranks. It is worth mentioning that the program has successfully accelerated over 30 startups, helping them secure funding up to the Series A stage.
The competition has proven to be a catalyst for entrepreneurship, as participating startups have collectively secured over $100 million in funding in just 18 months.
During the 2023 competition, the 15 finalist startups had a fantastic opportunity to present their innovative solutions to an audience consisting of representatives from venture capital firms, technology companies and potential corporate partners.
These startups showcased a diverse range of cutting-edge technologies, including Web3 applications and AI platforms that facilitate investment decision-making, data analysis, route planning and carbon modeling . They come from various countries like Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, New Zealand and South Korea.
“Our program achieved a 15% success rate based on the number of portfolio startups achieving Series A funding, which far exceeds the industry benchmark of less than 10%. I am very optimistic about our growth plan in 2024 and the impact it will have on the ecosystem,” says Leo Jiang, Chief Digital Officer of Huawei Cloud APAC.
“This allows them to gain insight into the unique opportunities and advantages that this region, as a growing hub of innovation and technology, can offer for their growth and expansion.”
Furthermore, the government plans to facilitate research and development (R&D) in the field of microelectronics. They also aim to create an intensive computing center dedicated to the development of AI. Additionally, they want to support the transformation of startups’ R&D results.
“Backed by strong policy support, Hong Kong’s growing tech ecosystem, as well as its synergies with Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area, provide ample opportunities for startups around the world to connect with potential investors and partner companies here,” Jiang said.
“By bringing entrepreneurs together, our program also allows them to explore partnerships with like-minded individuals, fostering collaboration and opening up new growth opportunities. »
That said, startups often face challenges accessing resources and infrastructure to scale and innovate quickly. Limited budgets and resources can hinder their ability to effectively exploit cutting-edge technologies, which, in turn, can hinder their progress and competitiveness in the market.
To help startups overcome these challenges, Huawei Cloud is committed to building a robust startup ecosystem with incubation and acceleration programs, starting in the Asia-Pacific region and later expanding to others parts of the world.
Huawei Cloud aims to empower aspiring technology entrepreneurs globally by providing essential support such as resources, mentoring, training, workshops and infrastructure.
According to Jiang, the accelerator program recently expanded to Hong Kong and Thailand, following its successful launch in Singapore. This program provides participants with mentorship from Huawei Cloud technical experts, as well as advice from advisors in the areas of business management, financing and law.
Huawei Cloud will also collaborate with government agencies to provide technical assistance in AI and cloud deployment. This collaboration will involve sharing best practices, developing talent, creating business opportunities and co-creating innovative solutions.
On another front, Jiang highlights Huawei Cloud’s efforts to promote collaboration between businesses and innovators through its “Horizon” innovation workshop series. These workshops aim to bring together a wide range of stakeholders to identify areas for improvement, resolve issues and explore potential digital transformation opportunities.
“We also support them in their outreach efforts by helping them connect with potential investors, corporate partners and customers. Additionally, we actively participate in exhibitions and organize delegations to meet with government agencies, thereby strategically expanding their reach.
To bridge the knowledge gap between venture capital firms and startups, Jiang says Huawei Cloud can provide due diligence reports that can validate the startup’s claimed efficiency and technical viability. This way, investors and businesses can make informed decisions based on objective analysis.
Narin Khurana, founder of Thailand-based School Bright, was invited to participate in an opening session following the competition. His company offers a digital school management system as a service that efficiently streamlines administrative workflows, including student attendance tracking, online exams, and automated grading.
A few years ago, Khurana met Jiang in Thailand and made the decision to use the Huawei Cloud platform for his School Bright system. Through Huawei Cloud’s startup network, School Bright has also formed a partnership with a Philippines-based education technology startup, expanding its reach and impact in the education sector in both countries.
“For Huawei Cloud, building startup ecosystems is a long-term investment,” says Jiang. “Our goal is to cultivate innovative communities not only in the Asia-Pacific region but also in other parts of the world.
“We believe this effort not only stimulates economic growth, but also generates societal benefits. By empowering young people to pursue and realize their dreams and embrace entrepreneurship, we are creating a platform for them to thrive and make a meaningful impact.