Blue Sky Labs won the TechCrunch Shanghai 2017 Startup Competition with its plans to manufacture products to help consumers tackle problems with air, water and food. The prize was RMB 1 million in the form of an interest-free convertible debt bond from Gobi Partners.
TechCrunch Shanghai 2017 was brought to a fitting close: recognition of a startup that incorporates the values of the event. After several previous rounds including the previous day’s semi finals, five finalists made it through to the final round. The event followed a strict 3-minute pitch, 3-minute jury question period format. The finalists were all well rehearsed with very few being cut off by the host. At the end of the pitches the five-member jury went off to deliberate before coming back with their results.
Joint 4th and 5th Prize: Flint OS and Elsewhere
Both teams won an RMB 100,000 bond from Gobi Partners. Flint OS is an operating system that is a non-Google version of Chrome OS, a browser-based operating system based on Linux that, unlike Chrome OS, can be installed on a vast number of devices. Chrome OS only works on Chromebooks and has to connect to Google’s cloud services (making Chromebooks essentially paperweights in China).
Flint OS allows connection to a wider number of cloud systems. One of its main advantages is reinvigorating old equipment that has pretty much ground to a halt. Reformatting an old Windows or Mac device with the lightweight system breathes new life into it and the company has been getting it into schools in the UK to extend the lifespan of computers. It can also be used as an operating system for glitchy terminals in commercial use or for powering a Raspberry Pi.
Like many startups, Elsewhere is an Uber-for-something: spaces. It creates a listing of space in a city that are then bookable by the hour for meetings, parties and whatever the imagination allows. All are inspected by Elsewhere. It already has 10,000 users.
3rd Prize: BIOSENSORIX
An RMB 300,000 prize bond was awarded to this startup that is developing a rapid diagnostic device that will speed up diagnoses and could prevent certain health conditions worsening by alerting users in advance with regular self-testing at home, allowing them to seek medical advice. The company is concentrating on detecting the likelihood of someone suffering a stroke, the world’s second largest killer according to cofounder Luka Fajs.
The device employs the finger prick method as used by people with diabetes checking their blood glucose. It uses technology from pregnancy testing kits as well as a glucometer to determine whether any particular markers are present. This is faster and cheaper than typical testing used in hospitals. Hospitals would effectively license the devices with variable tariffs depending on how many tests they run. Singapore-based Biosensorix has already raised $1.4 million in grant funding.
2nd Prize: NORMA
A prize of RMB 500,000 was awarded to South Korean internet security startup Norma. The company is developing ways to secure IoT and already has its technology incorporated into the Galaxy Note 8. Multiple South Korean government departments, including the Ministry of Defense, are also using Norma to secure themselves from threats. Their services are also being applied to cars which are increasingly online and therefore increasingly vulnerable.
Their current main product is the ATMOblue smart face mask. It is battery powered as it sucks air through the filters into the central chamber to reduce the strain on people’s lungs. Not only does it have a 100% seal (no more fogging up for glasses wearers, no more leaks for beard wearers) and powerful filters, it also uses machine learning to determine a user’s particularly breathing pattern to determine how much air to supply. The startup also hopes the mask will become a fashion accessory.
The mask is fully modular in design which should mean parts can easily be replaced. Its filter pods attach magnetically to the mask and can be swapped for different filter types for different conditions and different industrial and construction uses. When asked by the jury whether the company was a manufacturer or crowdfunding organizer, CPO Simon Kubski said the company aimed “to wrap talent and skills around projects that matter”. The Changsha-registered company predicts it will ship 500,000 units from 2018 to 2020.