On 12 April, 2019, seven Canadian firms emerged from a field of 187 start-ups as winners in the Shenzhen International Innovation and Entrepreneurial Competition. The competition, now in its third year, draws innovative and entrepreneurial start-up companies from 10 different countries. After competing at the regional and national level, winning companies were invited to the final competition in Shenzhen China which took place between 8 and 12 April, 2019.
In 2018 a pre-revenue Canadian medical device company, Conavi Medical, won second place and prize money of approximately $140,000 in the Biology and Life Sciences division. In subsequent meetings with Chinese venture capitalists it acquired an additional $1MM in venture finance over the next three months.
This year, Canadian companies took overall first, second and third places. The top position went to Qidni Labs, a medical devices company based in Waterloo, Ontario. It was followed by Genecis Bioindustries, a Toronto-based company specializing in environmental plastics microbiology in second, and Fibos Inc., a company that designs ultra-high temperature sensors (also based in Toronto) in third. By winning first place overall, Qidni Labs was awarded prize money of approximately $200,000.
Additional Canadian companies placed high in individual industry categories – Rapid Novor winning the Biology and Life Sciences category, Nanodevice Solutions placing third in Advanced Manufacturing category, ARTH Media placing second in the Internet of Things category and Kalepso placing second in the Fintech category. Overall prize money for the 2019 competition was approximately C$ 2,000,000 with the Canadian entrants taking home a sizeable portion.
In addition to the competition itself, contestant companies spent a week of meetings and networking sessions with accelerators, technology centres and venture capitalists based in Shenzhen and the surrounding region. The International Innovation and Entrepreneurial Competition has been an excellent way to introduce Canadian companies to potential business partners and investors in the world’s largest market. It has also provided Chinese and other countries with a glimpse of the potential of Canada’s entrepreneurs and innovation economy.
Information on the 2020 competition will be coming available at the following website ( http://sciinnovation.ca/plus/list.php?tid=73 ). We look forward to reporting further Canadian successes a year from now.