The 928 Challenge startup competition that ended last Saturday was organized by the Forum Macau, City University of Macau, Shenzhen University, and the United Nations University Institute in Macau. The name "928 Challenge" alludes to 9 cities in the Great Bay Area, 2 special administrative regions, and 8 Portuguese-speaking countries. The event aimed to unleash entrepreneurial spirit from students in China and Portuguese-speaking countries, create sustainable business ideas, and strengthen cross-border business relations.
After three weeks of intense training in the 928 Bootcamp, the finals were held last Saturday in Forum Macau. The 928 Challenge aims to develop the creation of Business ideas that link China and Portuguese Speaking countries both ways. Over the previous weeks, almost 800 Students from universities in China and Portuguese-speaking countries participated in online training to learn about the economic development and business opportunities in these countries and the Great Bay area of China. All students attended presentations given by representatives from investment promotions agencies in Portuguese-speaking countries.
The teams from China had the opportunity to learn about the business dynamics environment in the Portuguese Speaking Countries: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome e Principe, and Timor Leste. On the other hand, teams from Portuguese-speaking countries learned about the Great Bay Area and its vibrant market of 60 million people. GBA is the largest manufacturing region globally with a growing financial market, dynamic technology hub, and a world-class tourism and leisure center.
At the end of the Bootcamp, 89 teams submitted their business proposals linking markets in China and Portuguese-speaking countries. Twenty mentors and judges selected the best 16 teams to make a pitch in Saturday's finals in the Forum Macau. A panel of 8 judges voted to select the top three teams. Members of the committee included Antonio Trindade (CEO of CESL Asia), Eileen Stow (CEO of Lord Stow), Rui Cunha (Founder C&C), Nestor Ng (President of Anzac), Daniel Cheong (Vice-President of Juventude Travel Agency), Karen Neng (Managing Director of Moxlink), Celia Lao (CEO of Air Asia Hong Kong and Macau), and Uwe Hutzler (CEO of ISA Tantec).
The competition's winner was a team from the University of Porto that proposed the development of a ProBio Vaccine for aquaculture. In their pitch, they showed that China produces 52% of the world's total aquaculture. A large proportion of fish production is either lost or wasted. The University of Porto's solution could help decrease the USD 1,2 billion of losses in the aquaculture industry every year. The Lusofona University of Guinea Bissau took second place with a business idea about developing a solar energy system in the remote Gabu region, where 94% of the population and small businesses have no access to electricity. Finally, two teams tied up in 3rd place: Guangdong Polytechnic Normal University (GPNU) and Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ). The GPNU team proposed a Traditional Chinese Medicine product - bath bombs - to prevent cardiovascular diseases, lower blood pressure, and improve blood circulation targeting the Portuguese market. The UERJ team proposed to produce biofertilizer using rice burning waste from China, which is the first producer of rice in the world. The judges considered that all projects presented in the final could develop further and encouraged teams to pursue their ideas.
The 928 Challenge organizers believe that entrepreneurship support is critical to developing Macau as an innovation platform and creating tomorrow's leaders. The sponsors shared the same vision and were critical for launching the first edition of the 928 Challenge: CESL Asia, BNU, Millenium BCP, Fidelidade Seguros, ISA Tantec, Luso Bank International, Bank of China, Companhia de Electricidade de Macau, and MdME lawyers. The Forum Macau played a vital role in attracting universities and students, engaging speakers from Portuguese-speaking countries, and supporting the event throughout, including hosting the finals at the Complex of the Macau Forum.