China-Italy Best Startup Showcase-Entrepreneurship Competition (BSSEC)

The results of the 2019 edition

BSSEC is a platform for cooperation between Italy and China aimed at promoting innovative startups and SMEs interested respectively in the Asian and European markets.

Launched in 2016 under the direction of Italy’s Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) and of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the program is coordinated in Italy by Campania New Steel with Città della Scienza, Italia Startup, PNI Cube, SPICI srl and in China by the International Technology Transfer Network.

During his state visit to China in February 2017, Italian President Sergio Mattarella and President Xi Jinping jointly signed the Strategic Plan for China-Italy Scientific and Technological Innovation Cooperation towards 2020: the document recognized the BSSEC as a national innovation competition platform, connecting innovative enterprises of the two countries.

In a two-year period, the program, born as a simple event, has been transformed into a real internationalization platform for Italian and Chinese innovative companies.

The 2018/2019 edition, launched on 4 December 2018 in Milan during ninth edition of the Italy-China Science, Technology and Innovation Week, involved over 100 companies from Italy and China specializing in the sectors of sustainability and green innovation, digital economy and intelligent equipment, health, advanced production, AI & big data.

The soft-landing missions carried out in this edition of BSSEC, have been characterized by an exploratory program into the Chinese market aimed at guiding the Italian innovative startups and SMEs that have an interest in internationalizing in China and was focused on different geographical areas to capture and enhance the sectorial specifications of each area. Activities took place in 16 Chinese and Italian cities in a total of 22 stages:

Shenzhen (1), Zhuhai (1), Hangzhou (2), Suzhou (3), Xiamen (1), Zhangzhou (1), Nanjing (3), Xi’an (1), Rome (1), Milan (1), Wuzhen (1), Beijing (2), Yancheng (1), Foshan (1), Dongguan (1), Wenzhou (1).

Each mission consisted in a competition between the participating startups and innovative companies and was followed by numerous meetings with investors, local companies, government administrations, research institutions as well as visits of companies (Huawei Shenzhen Headquarters, Alibaba Hangzhou Headquarters, Senken, Unisound, WeDoctor), centers of excellence in research (Songshan Lake Eco-City Science Museum, Zhangzhou Development Zone, Amazon Web Services Innovation Center), science parks (ST Industrial Park, Songshan Lake High-Tech Industrial Development Zone, Taican Industrial Park, Yancheng Dongshan Precision Industrial Park, Lishui High Tech Industrial Zone) and incubators (TusStar, TusCity, T3 Space, Tron Space, Guangda We Valley).

The semifinals that were organized during the last edition of BSSEC were divided as follows:

• Intelligent Equipment and Digital Economy (April) was held in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Zhangzhou and Xiamen. The participating companies presented their solutions, met investors, experts and government and corporate representatives and visited the headquarters of renowned corporate giants such as Alibaba and Huawei.

• Sustainability and Green Innovation (June) was held in Nanjing, Hangzhou and Suzhou. The companies participated in meetings with local governments, companies and investors and visited the offices of Amazon. Finally, the companies pitched their innovative solutions in the fields of cybersecurity, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, IoT, 5G, big data, nanotech, wi-fi technologies, blockchain, with applications ranging from mobility to agriculture from sustainable building to hydroponics and from energy efficiency to power grid.

• Advanced Production (September). The companies presented several innovative solutions, from 3D printing to new materials and B2B solutions for industrial production. About 100 one-to-one meetings between companies, potential business partners, customers and investors were organized. The geographical areas explored were Yancheng, in the province of Jiangsu, one of the cities with the fastest growing economy in the world; Nanjing, which previously hosted other missions, and Xi’An, the center of the Greater Xi’A Area, which, as the starting point of the New Silk Road, aims to promote and drive the development of Western Chinese regions.

• Health and Life Sciences (October). The program took place in Italy, in Rome, at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Rome – La Sapienza. The participants pitched their advanced solutions ranging from testing methods to treat cancer with stem cells, to cancer screening tests and liquid biopsy, to innovative eye care tools and communication services that allow deaf people to make phone call without a third intermediary.

• Artificial Intelligence and Big Data (October) was held in Wuzhen, Suzhou and Beijing. The participants presented their solutions ranging from the application of AI in language learning systems and technological solutions for Virtual Retail and Cloud Manufacturing for fashion brands, retailers, manufacturers and designers, to specialized companies in Edge Computing, AI, IOT and DLT (Distributed Ledger).

The 2018/2019 edition ended in November on the occasion of the Grand Final which was attended by the 6 companies selected during each semifinal. The activities took place in the 5 Chinese cities of Foshan, Dongguan, Beijing, Nanjing and Wenzhou. The participants had the opportunity to meet the Minister of Education, University and Research Lorenzo Fioramonti and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang. They took part in the tenth edition of the Italy-China Science, Technology and Innovation Week, the 2019 Innovation Songshan Lake Entrepreneurship Program and various matchmaking meetings with investors and potential business and technological partners.

The first prize winner of the Grand Final was Genenta Science, a pioneering biotechnology company in the development of cancer treatment therapies that has already raised over 30 million euros in funding. Vaxxit, the second prize winner, is a startup operating in the biomedical sector, specializing in the development of vaccines for the treatment of various diseases including AIDS and cancer. The third prize winner was Edugo.ai, an e-learning company that uses artificial intelligence to offer a more personalized and efficient way to learn a new language.