The Top 10 finalists of the Alibaba Entrepreneur Fund / HSBC JUMPSTARTER 2022 Global Pitch Competition (JUMPSTARTER 2022) have been revealed! They will go on to final pitching round on March 30-31, where they will vie for the GRAND PRIZE of up to US$4 million in investment. The final results will be announced in April 2022.
This year’s line-up features start-ups from diverse fields including art tech, deeptech, fintech, healthcare and sustainability. If there is one thing uniting them, it’s that they all possess an unwavering commitment not only to innovation but also entrepreneurship, which, as a few of the top 10 finalists tell us, goes beyond inventing or leading to create something that fills a gap in the marketplace and has a positive influence in society.
For a more sustainable future
Once seen as a nice-to-have, sustainability is increasingly becoming an integral part of a company’s business strategy.
One start-up that is pioneering the global transition to a net-zero future is Open Ocean Engineering, which aims to build electric, autonomous boats that “make it cost effective and cleaner to do the same job in the water." For founder Sidhant Gupta, this transition will only be sustainable if businesses can balance dream and profitability. Noting the “ineffectiveness” of existing water cleaning methods, Sidhant’s goal is to come up with an automated or robotic solution that would herald in cleaner oceans, yet at the same time have enough market potential for it to become sustainable in the long run.
For Prof. Jia Li, co-founder of Carbon Infinity, the desire to create a more sustainable world is deeply personal. The reality that “some kids might not be able to see a real polar bear in the future” has prompted a rethinking of the actions needed to stop climate change. Carbon Infinity is developing a climate tech known as “direct air capture” to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere.
As co-founder of Grand Rise Technology, Dr. Pei Li’s work has huge implications for the antiviral industry, which is especially critical during a pandemic. Alongside her team, she is developing biomaterial-based coating applications that can be used towards safer and greener antibacterial and antiviral applications.
To help cure the world of diseases
When it comes to healthcare, accessibility is a key priority. The founders of Gense Technologies have dreams of leveraging their skillset to make a real impact on society. As company co-founder Justin Chan, notes, “What we are looking at is accessibility about mass screening, mass monitoring, and those naturally come as something that will make a good impact to the world. The start-up offers an affordable and portable self-help medical imaging device for the early detection and management of some of the world's costliest liver, lung and kidney diseases. The most important thing? Powered by cloud-based machine learning algorithms, it can be administered by users who have no substantive operative training.
As people live longer, QuantumTX is cognizant of the growing gap between people’s health and lifespan. The start-up’s devices enable seniors and patients to recover from injuries in a more effective manner whilst providing additional benefits such as improved fitness, mobility, health and a better quality of life. When asked what his proudest moment in his start-up was, co-founder Ivan Goh says it was witnessing a user of a QuantamTX device regain the ability to walk after 12 weeks.
While its three founders-Kareen Barghout, Peter Mccaffrey and Ayin Vala-come from different academic backgrounds, they shared a desire to channel their skills & knowledge into something impactful to society through their company, Vastbiome. The start-up has an ambitious goal: map the human gut microbiome to evaluate a patient's health, carry out diagnosis and treatment. According to Kareem, “There's a whole part of our body, three to six pounds of bacteria in your gut that is directly connected with 80% of your immune cells. It's really crazy to think that we don't understand anything about this bacteria that is driving a lot of our outcomes in our health. So we want to be the company and we are driven by improving human health and through the gut bacteria.”
Helping others achieve their goals
There are also start-ups wanting to lift other businesses up among JUMPSTARTER 2022’s Top 10 finalists.
Food Market Hub co-founders Shayna Teh and Anthony See failed as restaurant owners but that motivated them to help other small and medium-sized food businesses. “[We] sat down and [thought, what went wrong? How can we restructure our whole process again, if we get to do it again? We decided to go into the technology business for the food & beverage industry. We see the opportunity there and hence the birth of Food Market Hub. We see the gap and the opportunities to help a lot of food businesses that do not have enough resources and money to purchase an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system,” Teh says. Food Market Hub has created an end-to-end procurement management platform connecting restaurants to their suppliers to achieve better food cost and minimise wastage whilst providing seamless communication and payment options. It turns out second time as an entrepreneur is a charm, as Food Market Hub's business grew 4X during the 2nd lockdown in Malaysia.
Another start-up powering business is VoiceAI Technologies, which leverages its suite of acoustic and speech processing technologies to help companies to conduct speech analysis, enabling them to improve productivity in the long-run. Voice AI is filling an important gap in the marketplace, according to its founder Kevin Li. Whereas most voice technologies cater to customers, those who cater to businesses are few and far between. VoiceAI might still be small but Li is setting his sights high, having won a coveted tender from one of the Chinese multinational banks earlier.
A good design enables you to communicate your proposition clearly and plays a huge role in setting your brand ahead of competitors. This belief anchors the work of Designie, which created a tool to help detect errors and suggest improvements for social media graphics. Designie aspires to help SMEs and social media marketers create better designs and used by prominent companies.
Insurance is an essential part of financial and life planning, yet the key barrier to access is the amount of resources needed to build the product. Ignatica is an insur-tech platform that allows insurers to build and launch fully API-enabled products in hours. What this means is insurers will be able to provide the type of insurance that customers need, at the price they could afford, and with digital service and speed that they expect. Founder Manuel San Miguel notes the positive impact this will have, "all of us interact with insurance in many aspects of our lives, so to make that experience better, and turn it into something that actually adds direct value to life, and is embedded in the day-to-day activities with huge opportunity."