LONDON – On a day dedicated to the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R) and to nurturing bright ideas and fruitful Sino-British collaborations, the team LoMaRe won the 10th edition of the China – UK Entrepreneurship Competition. Cocoon Networks London, Europe’s first Chinese-funded networking platform and financial investment consultancy, is proud to have hosted this enriching event.
The China-UK Entrepreneurship Competition Final was preceded by the B&R Forum, a succession of brief speeches given by expert guests on the B&R. Professor Yu Xiong, Chair of Technology and Operation Management at Northumbria University, lead the Forum.
The B&R Forum had six speakers. Mr Sunan Jiang, Minister Counsellor for Science and Technology of the Chinese Embassy, provided an overview of the latest developments in China's technology sector, in addition to discussing trends in Chinese innovation and entrepreneurship. OBE Mrs. Marie Francis from University of East Anglia instead discussed the role of agricultural technology and the importance of collaborations with China in the context of the B&R. Mrs. Francis began her short speech by reminding the students in the room of their role in the fight against world huger:
"I want to talk to the people at the back of the room, the students. This is your world, you are going to be here in 50 years time. What do you want the world to be like? [...] It's up to you to make sure you get it right."
The floor was then taken by Mr. Eric Van der Kleij, CEO of the Centre for Digital Revolution (C4DR), who drew attendees' attention to the opportunities produced by the modern industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), against the background of the B&R. In doing so, Mr. Van der Kleij praised Cocoon Networks for their work and reliability:
"[...] Cocoon Networks invested in this terrific facility right here in the heart of London, directly intending to foster those collaborations between Europe and China. So there was only one place that was natural for us to be. We recently established C4DR here [...] and our first two projects were recently signed with our first Chinese partners introduced by CN. They have done everything they said they would for us, which makes them the best connector to China that we could ever hope for. We are really delighted both of that and of their support for us as an organisation.We had no connections in China just at the beginning of this year so it's terrific that Cocoon Networks exists."
Mr. Deng, Professor in Economic History at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, discussed the opportunities for further economic growth - produced by the B&R - that China could make the most out of. Mark Hedley, ICT Sector Director at China-Britain Business Council, provided insight into the possibilities offered by the application of the internet and of IT to conventional industries, in a B&R world. Mr Cunningham, Professor of Strategic management at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, conferred on the future of Sino-British technology collaborations and of entrepreneurship in a B&R context.
Shortly after the end of the Forum David Brown, Professor in Strategy and Information Systems at Lancaster University Management School, introduced the China-UK entrepreneurship competition, pointing out that “…the aim of the competition is threefold [...]. It's about inspiring young people like yourselves to develop sustainable, high-growth businesses between China and the UK [...]; about fostering deep links between China and the UK, which I think this competition has done splendidly; and about supporting the agendas of individual partners". Professor Brown then went on to provide the audience with some background on the competition:
"This competition was born in 2006 within a debate in China about how to bring together national technological efforts and global forces and global collaborations. The Chinese government never picked up the phone telling us to start a competition in this area. We just did it. But it fit in very well with the scene at that time. And that's important because if you've got a new idea like this competition and it fits with the policy priorities of the relevant governments, then you will obtain support. This is what this competition has done."
The projects were evaluated against the two following criteria: the viability and potential of the project and the quality of the business plan. The teams gave 15-minute formal presentations and answered queries from the judges during a 10-minute Q&A. The judges assessed each venture taking into account the presentation, the Q&A and an accompanying business plan.
The four competing teams were Whistle, LoMaRe, Panda Lab and BPMN3D.
Whistle “specialized in drones and telecommunication technology designed to save time, resources, and lives. Whistle uniquely combines Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and telecommunication technology in order to locate mobile phones of lost hikers on mountain ranges. It does so independently of any cell towers or satellites."
Yuze, Whistle team member, pointed out that "taking part in this competition helped our team think further and about the future. In the semi-final that happened in Lancaster we did not think about our future plans. However, after talking to professors and business experts, we started working on our financial plans and on our future plans."
LoMaRe aims “to become the market leader for piezomagnetic based technologies […]. The start is marked with our patent-pending PiezoMagnetic RAM (PMRAM), a versatile technology platform offering many advantages compared to current state-of-the-art. Our first product will be 2-D PMRAM embedded memory chips to replace eFLASH and SRAM in applications for the automotive, IOT and computer industries.”
Evgeniy from LoMaRe commented on the contest: "the competition was organised really well, it brought us through a lot of stages to get to the final, which really makes you appreciate participating in it (the competition). Along the way we received a lot of feedback which we used to reinforce the presentation today."
The team Panda Lab is “devoted to creating value from waste and building an infinite recycling system. […] We are going to introduce digitalized reverse vending machine (RVM) and create an integrated platform which can recycle plastic bottles, glass bottles and aluminium cans based on individual engagement by providing rewards. […] Bottles and cans would be recycled before people throw them into bins.”
Fabian from Panda Lab expressed his thoughts on the competition: "We are very happy we took part in this competition because we have learned a lot about the practical aspects of entrepreneurship. We met different teams with different skills and it was very interesting to share experiences and to learn from others here at the competition.”
The team BPMN3D “…created an innovative 3D platform based on the BPM (Business Process Modelling) technique, providing essential but straightforward security modelling and verification tools for businesses, to design and maintain secure systems from the very beginning, instead of fixing them later, which even non-security experts can utilise.”
BPMN3D team member Stephen was glad to take part in the competition: "The experience of participating in such an entrepreneurship competition has been great because it just set us aside from academia and let us think more about how we can commercialise our research. This makes me really think about the way I want to approach research, rather than thinking about blue skies research, which has potentially no application over the next 30 years."
The four presentations were followed by a brief deliberation. Before revealing the best-performing team in the competition Professor David Brown emphasised that “winning is important and […] everybody who entered this afternoon is a winner.” Shortly after, the panel of judges ranked the participating teams as follows:
A total of £14,000 was shared by the four teams participating in the Final. The winning team, LoMaRe, received £6,000 while the runner-up BPMN3D received £4,000. The third and fourth teams, Panda Lab and Whistle, received £2,000 each.
Winning team LoMaRe collects the certificate
Each team shook hands with the judges and took pictures with them, in turns. A final group picture with all teams and judges was also taken. The day was concluded with a brief networking session.