After being established last year, the 928 Challenge – a start-up competition dedicated to bringing together university students from China and Portuguese-speaking countries – will return this year with more partners, as well as the involvement of more university institutions.
This year, the competition is again co-organized by the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries – Macao (Forum Macao), City University of Macau (CityU), Shenzhen University, and the United Nations University Institute in Macau.
Joining for the first time this year is the University of Macau, Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST), University of Saint Joseph (USJ), the Macau Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, the Guangdong Polytechnic Normal University, and the Rio de Janeiro State University, organizers announced in a press conference held yesterday.
Organizers have also announced that, this year, the competition will operate according to a different structure, with two different tracks: one dedicated to universities and another open to the participation of companies. Organizers expect this change to attract even greater participation.
At the opening speech, Forum Macao’s deputy secretary-general Ambassador Paulo Jorge Espírito Santo noted that the competition is very important, which is the reason why Forum Macao has supported it since the start.
“Coming from the universities this is obviously an academic work, but it is far more than that,” Espírito Santo said, noting that the practicality of the work and the start-up proposals from students aim to solve real problems through creative solutions that can create even further links between Macau, Portuguese-
speaking countries and China.
As one of the event coordinators, José Alves representing CityU added, “The 928 Challenge is a collective effort by three stakeholders including academia, the business sector, and the government,” explaining that the three must work together to share ideas and resources to meet the expectations that China and Portuguese-speaking countries have concerning Macau and its platform role.
“The platform is possible! With the essential generosity and support from the sponsors, our initiative proves that the Macau platform can count on the academia,” Alves remarked, noting also that following last year’s good experience and results, the success of outcomes for this year “will be very high.”
Alves also noted that the 928 Challenge attempts to overcome the challenges created by what he called the “three distances,” the geographical distance between the participants, the cultural distance between different people, and the distance between the different degrees of development of each country and region participating in the competition.
As explained in the first competition held in 2021, the name “928” represents the nine cities from the Greater Bay Area, the two special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong, and the eight Portuguese-speaking countries that will be represented in the competition.
As with last year’s competition, the participants will take part in a two-week Bootcamp to gain insight into the business environment and opportunities in China and Portuguese-speaking countries.
Representing USJ, one of the newly added partners to the competition, Alexandre Lobo, Head of the Department of Business Administration and Coordinator for Research from the Faculty of Business and Law, said that the participation of the university in this year’s competition comes with the fact that the challenge is “aligned with our university’s development plan and we expect to contribute to its success.” Lobo added that the university is currently creating an incubator to attract startups from the Greater Bay Area and Portuguese-speaking countries interested in knowing and exploring business in both markets.
Also representing one of the new partners to the event, Max Zhou from the IFTM noted the university’s interest, explaining that at the start of this year, the IFTM created a brand-new laboratory to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of its students and alumni to integrate technology and tourism industry.
This year’s competition also counts a higher number of sponsors, growing from the seven last year to a total of 12 this year, including Galaxy Entertainment Group, ISA Tantek, Alibaba Cloud, Banco National Ultramarino, Fidelidade Seguros, CESL Asia, CEM, Millenium BCP bank, MdME law firm, Moxlink, KJN Investments, and C&C Lawyers.
Registration starts in June
Team registration for the 2022 edition of 928 Challenge is set to open in June. Teams will then take part in a two-week Bootcamp in which teams must create sustainability-oriented business plans.
Following the model initially planned for last year’s edition, the best startup projects will earn a spot presenting to the jury and a group of potential investors at the final event, scheduled to take place on October 29, during the Macao International Trade and Investment Fair.
In the first edition, 153 teams enrolled close to 800 university students, who produced a total of 89 projects.
With this year’s extension of the competition to companies, organizers forecast that the number of participants might double to a total of around 1,600.