Chinese fund ups prize ante in worldwide start-up contest

Chinese fund ups prize ante in worldwide start-up contest

After Israeli firm won last year’s Global Innovation Award, sponsor raises sum by 50%

Israeli finalists are named to participate in the Shengjing Global Innovation Awards, June 30, 2015. (L to R): ‪Raanan Lidji, Roy Dagan, Co-Founders, Securithings; Hila Goldman-Asian, CEO DiaCardio; Menny Shalom, Founder & CEO, Wayerz (Different Vibe)‬
Israeli finalists are named to participate in the Shengjing Global Innovation Awards, June 30, 2015. (L to R): ‪Raanan Lidji, Roy Dagan, Co-Founders, Securithings; Hila Goldman-Asian, CEO DiaCardio; Menny Shalom, Founder & CEO, Wayerz (Different Vibe)‬ ‬

Israel is hoping to once again win the Global Innovation Awards contest, as it did last year, with the first place showing of DiaCardio, based in the southern Israeli city of Omer.

For the second year, Israel’s Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) is teaming up with China’s Shengjing Group and its venture capital arm, the Shengjing Fund of Funds. The contest is being run simultaneously in the China, the US, Europe, and Israel, with two Israeli companies to be chosen to compete against 18 others from the rest of the world in the finals, set to take place in Beijing next August.

That was the format last year when the two Israeli participants, DiaCardio and Wayerz, respectively took first and fifth place in the contest. Last year, each took home $200,000 of the $1 million offered in prizes, but this year that sum has risen to $1.5 million. Along with the prize money winners will be eligible to tap into a $25 million investment fund created by Shengjing specifically for participants in the contest.

Which is what makes the GIA different from other start-up contests, said Yoav Tzruya, a partner at JVP. “This is a unique opportunity for companies to achieve a significant breakthrough in global growth markets including China, and to liaise with industry leaders. Like last year, this global competition will only generate even more interest in Israeli start-ups among investors in China and elsewhere.”

The Israeli segment of the competition will be led by JVP along with its competition partners: Microsoft Ventures, EMC, Poalim Hi-Tech, EY Israel, Herzog Fox & Neeman (HFN), Nautilus by AOL and PR Newswire. Together, they will review the Israeli startups and choose 8-10 companies for the Israeli finals, to be held before July, where the two Israeli competitors will be chosen.

Companies that wish to participate have until mid-May to apply, and companies in “hot” areas like storage, big data, security, enterprise software, fintech, wearables, digital health, sports technology, computer vision, Internet of Things, robotics, and artificial intelligence have the best chance of being chosen, JVP and Shengjing said.

Given the fact that the prize and investment money is being put up by Shengjing, the contest winners will likely be chosen on the basis of their contributions to solving some of the problems plaguing China – like health, the area that last year’s grand prize winner, DiaCardio, specializes in. DiaCardio has developed a better way to measure heart activity during echocardiograms, automating an evaluation process that is generally done manually today, with all the inaccuracies that implies.

DiaCardio’s LVivo platform uses algorithms to detect the borders of the heart’s ventricle walls and then to track their movement precisely over the duration of an echo imaging video. It uses this reliable data to make a quantitative assessment of the heart’s dynamic performance. The software integrates easily with all echocardiograph machines and has received FDA and CE (European) approval.

“Winning the first prize of GIA 2015 was an amazing experience and was a great opportunity to introduce our technology to top new global markets, including the Chinese market, meet key investors, gain additional exposure, resulting in significant strategic interest and continue to build a successful company,” said Hila Goldman-Aslan, DiaCardio co-founder & CEO.

That experience is now open to the Israeli start-ups that participate in this year’s contest, said Sherrie Wang, senior partner at Shengjing.

“Israel is a global hub and model for an innovation driven culture. The goal of the competition is to identify the most promising, innovative startups globally, to open doors and support them, and to help them become groundbreaking, market-leading companies. The Israeli startups in last year’s competition gained unrivaled achievements. We are confident they will continue to represent the Israeli ecosystem with great honor.”

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