Three Startups That Wowed Jack Ma and Won Alibaba's Backing

  • The trio won $1 million each in Hong Kong Jumpstarter event
  • Money will come from Alibaba’s H.K. entrepreneurs’ fund

Jack Ma Sees World Shifting From Big to Small Companies

After hearing 600 pitches spanning fintech and robotics to healthy aging, three startups will share $3 million in backing from an entrepreneurs fund set up by billionaire Jack Ma.

Jumpstarter, a competition for new ideas and products similar to TechCrunch Disrupt, has the backing of Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which unveiled its HK$1 billion ($128 million) fund in 2015 to support startups.

A shortlist of six candidates made the final pitches on Tuesday, getting 8 minutes to talk about their products and then 4 minutes of questioning by the judging panel. Among the criteria used to decide winners were innovation, community impact and market potential.

Here are their ideas.

The winners:

Cuttingedge Medtech Ltd.
Robot doctors may not be science fiction anymore. A team of robotic and medical imaging graduates is building specialized surgical robots for orthopedics, neural surgery and oral implants. The vision is personalized care with minimal invasive surgery.

Ma with Gordon Tam, founder of Farm66 Investment Ltd.

Photographer: Vivek Prakash/Bloomberg

Farm66 Investment Ltd.
The company is joining the increasingly hot field of hydroponics and vertical farming as companies try to alleviate a global food crisis with sustainable agriculture. Combining indoor farming with fish ponds, this startup has already won a couple of awards from local industry associations.

En-Trak Hong Kong Ltd.
This four-year-old startup targets commercial buildings with a connected device platform to help manage power use. En-Trak says it can pull in data from existing meters to manage consumption and lower costs while also lowering carbon emissions, with customers already including Hong Kong Stock Exchange and Fuji Xerox.

Vincent Chow of En-Trak Hong Kong.

Photographer: Vivek Prakash/Bloomberg

The other finalists:

Trying to bring a technology solution to an old-fashioned industry, BeeInventor has built a cloud-based platform for communication among construction workers. Its Dasloop product fits over the helmets worn on building sites and monitors body temperatures, warns of potential collisions and provides video feeds. It can also connect to gas detectors or a flashlight.

This startup aims to help merchants on e-commerce sites pick the best site to sell on. Viewider builds search and market research tools that help online merchants suss out global e-commerce services such as eBay or Amazon, register products for sale and price their wares accordingly.

Jun Young of Viewider.

Photographer: Vivek Prakash/Bloomberg

Human Washer Ltd.
Like a car wash for people. This startup offers the Sit & Shower, a device that enables the elderly and mobility impaired to bathe with automated soaping, temperature control, 13 surrounding water jets and air drying. The company says it also cleans itself.

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