They've got talent and projects to prove it

Three CEOs introduce their projects that attended this year's Shanghai Young Talent Innovation Contest.

Half of the 14 startups that entered the Minhang final for this year’s Shanghai Young Talent Innovation Contest are based in the district, a sign that efforts to nurture entrepreneurial talent and innovation are paying off.

Shanghai DoAero, Asage Robots and Daisy won the top three awards.

Twenty-three enterprises attended the competition this year, displaying their projects. Many of the contestants have attended start-up entrepreneurship training courses organized by the district.

“We want to build a platform and share our resources to help this kind of talent,” said Wen Wei, chief of organization and liaison at the Minhang Communist Youth League Committee, which hosted the event. “Of course, it’s also a chance to show young entrepreneurs what the district can offer them.”

The competition and training course have been held for the past three years. She said the event is always adapting to changing trends in the commercial world.

“The whole market is shifting,” she said. “We see trends from contestants taking part in the event and then rejig the next contest to reflect them.”

Wen added, “The first year, our contestants and course students came from various industries, from baby products to coffee shops. Last year, we had more enterprises in biotechnology. This year is seeing an increase in smart manufacturing.”

The district has also founded the Young Entrepreneurs Association to build platforms for people with innovative ideas.

We talked to some contestants from Minhang.

At the Minhang finale of this year’s Shanghai Young Talent Innovation Contest, a panel of judges and audience comprised mainly of their business peers listen carefully to the young entrepreneurs’ presentation of their business ideas.

Ti Gong

Zhou Luxian, CEO of Shanghai Aiji Biotechnology Co

Zhou Luxian, CEO of Shanghai Aiji Biotechnology Co

Whether you are from Nepal or New York, all human beings share 99.9 percent identical DNA. It’s that 0.01 percent difference that makes the world so varied.

“Each individual has a different skin type,” said Zhou. “And the secret of our skin lies in that 0.01 percent.”

Zhou’s company provides genetic testing service for customers and customized skincare products for their particular skin type, according to the DNA results.

“In order to find the product that suits your skin best, you would normally need to spend years and a lot of money trying various products,” he said. “Even then, the result might not be satisfactory, and you actually might damage your skin with the wrong products.”

The first step in skin care is to know yourself. Every person is different. The company works with Spas & Salons to promote the genetic testing service.

“Our genetic testing is different from other testing systems on the market,” Zhou said. “We focus on genes related to the skin, rather than genes associated with general physical health.”

As an eco-friendly company, it tests products using 3D skin models instead of animals.

Ti Gong

Cao Jun, chief executive officer of Pan-Support Building Technology

Cao Jun, chief executive officer of Pan-Support Building Technology

Cao is involved in building an artificial intelligence system that maximizes energy efficiency. He won fourth prize.

“There are many listed companies in the competition,” he said. “By comparison, we are just a small startup. But I learned a lot from the people I met, and I received support for my project.”

If a building is viewed as a body, the smart system developed by Cao’s team is its brain. By using data-driven techniques, the system can “learn” the routine of the building, thus achieving energy-saving results.

“For example, the usual way we use central air conditioning is to turn it on at 8am and turn it off at 5pm,” said Cao. “A smart building energy control system can record and predict how many people will be working in that room, do some calculations and set the temperature accordingly.”

The technology can be applied to hospitals, banks, hotels and office buildings. Cao compared the application of this technology with replacing a standard light bulb with an LED light.

“Energy use in commercial buildings is even bigger than transportation consumption,” said Cao. “Buildings in Beijing consume on average 100KWH per square meter per year. Our control system can cut the number to 10 -30 KWH.”

Promoting new energy is a global trend, Cao said, that aims to reduce energy waste and create sustainable development.

Cao’s company is working on a project for the Xinzhuang Industrial Park and is building a partnership with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development to further promote the technology.

We are just a small startup. But I learned a lot from the people I met, and I received support for my project.

Each individual has a different skin type ... And the secret of our skin lies in that 0.01 percent.

Ti Gong

Wen Zhongmeng, CEO of Asage Robots

Wen Zhongmeng, CEO of Asage Robots

Technology can liberate people. Improvement in productivity is a trend that can’t be stopped.

Contestants and judges pose for a picture after the Minhang finals of this year’s Shanghai Young Talent Innovation Contest.

Many youngsters have built a house or car by snapping Lego bricks together. But can the same process be applied to actual buildings? Modular robots share a similar concept, built up from tens or hundreds of modules.

“How revolutionary is this technology?” Wen asked rhetorically. “It’s like the third Industrial Revolution.”

“The robots used in current manufacturing are heavy and clumsy,” he said. “And there are few types or shapes of robots for buyers to choose from. Robots used, say, in medical procedures are different from those used in goods delivery.”

He added, “Modular robots can meet the various demands of different industries at a comparatively low price in a short production cycle.”

The module robot sets from Adage Robots can be used individually or in tandem with robots made by other companies.

Wen’s long-term goal is to introduce modular robots to all industries. He said he believes that can be achieved in a decade.

“It’s like replacing old Nokia phones with smartphones,” he said. “Technology can liberate people. Improvement in productivity is a trend that can’t be stopped.”

Adage Robots is working on rehabilitation robotics for use in exercising limbs, in tandem with Tsinghua University and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Professors from Shanghai Jiao Tong University who learned of Wen’s project from the contest are also seeking cooperation in research.

“Our project received widespread recognition from the competition,” said Wen. “Adage Robots can play a leading role in the domestic industry.”

Wen won the second place in the contest. In short term, his goal is to get the startup to the break-even point.

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