The second edition of the “928 Challenge”, a competition of university startups between Portuguese-speaking countries and China, will be extended to companies, it was announced on Thursday in Macau.
Starting in June, registration will open for a 15-day online bootcamp, scheduled for October, during which teams will have to create business plans geared towards sustainability, said one of the coordinators, Jose Alves.
The best plans will be presented to the jury and potential investors at the final, scheduled for 29 October, during the Macau International Fair, added the director of the Faculty of Business of the City University of Macau (CityU).
In the first edition of the “928 Challenge”, in October 2021, 153 teams with almost 800 university students signed up, and 89 delivered developed projects.
José Alves said he believes that this year it will be possible, also with the extension of the competition to companies, to double the number of participants and attract 1,600 students from 100 universities.
The academic noted that the event “does not depend on the physical presence of the ‘startups’ and students in Macau,” but said he hoped that an eventual easing of restrictions due to the pandemic would allow the finalists to come to the Chinese region to present their projects.
The winner of the first edition, a project to produce probiotic vaccines for aquaculture fish, from the University of Porto, has already received funding from the European Union, but the students have not yet been able to come to Macau, said Alves.
The head of CityU said that “for sure there are investors in China that are very interested,” not only in the winner, but also in the second place, a team from Guinea-Bissau’s Lusophone University, which plans to install solar panels in the region of Gabu, in the east of that country.
“Due to problems with transfers, we have not yet been able to deliver the prize money,” said José Alves.
As well as allowing for deeper academic collaborations between higher education institutions in the Greater Bay Area and Portuguese-speaking countries (Angola, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and Timor-Leste), the organisation aims to identify ‘startup’ projects with potential to be implemented and supported by investors from Macau, the Greater Bay Area or Portuguese-speaking countries.
The competition is jointly organised by the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macau) and several universities in Macau and the Greater Bay Area, as well as the State University of Rio de Janeiro.
The Greater Bay Area is a Beijing project that aims to create a global metropolis from the Chinese special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong, and nine cities in Guangdong province (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing), with more than 60 million inhabitants.