DETROIT – As China continues to rise in its global importance, its huge domestic market promises many expansion opportunities for US companies. Despite of all the anxiety and media buzz around the current tension between US and China, there is one platform that is approaching things more transparently and strategically – InnoSTARS.
In its 3rd year, InnoSTARS has proven to be an effective means of connecting small and medium sized US technology companies with prospective partners in China, which may be sales and distribution companies, corporates, universities, or investors. It is essentially a market readiness competition that offers an opportunity for innovative US technology companies to demonstrate their readiness for the China market.
More than 1000 US technology companies have applied to compete in InnoSTARS to date. All are US based. ”We are really honored that InnoSTARS competition offers an accelerated path to China for many US companies that would otherwise not know where to start regarding entering China”, said Min Fan COO of US China Innovation Alliance, the Houston-based nonprofit that organizes the InnoSTARS competition with the support of many partner organizations across US and China.
In 2018, preliminaries were held in Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta, Boston, and Seattle. In 2019, InnoSTARS competition will be coming to Detroit for the first time as an added element of the IoT TechConnect conference on April 29 at the Michigan Science Center. https://iottechconnect.com/
Every spring, InnoSTARS hosts what are called Preliminary Pitch/Demo Days in multiple US cities. Some of the cities focus on one industry sector, while others invite technology companies from multiple industries to compete. InnoStars judges are screened and selected in each preliminaries city, and include a balance of US-based Chinese technology executives who understand business in China, and non-Chinese business executives who have substantial experience in China – also known as “China Hands.’
The judging panel scores each US technology companies on a range of factors, but ultimately the companies that appear to offer a compelling strategy to address an immediate need in the China market get selected.
”Just having an innovative technology or presentation in Chinese is not enough,” said John Robinson, InnoSTARS strategic partner and multi-city judge. “Successful US technology company entrants clearly demonstrate to judges that upon landing in China they have a good sense of the competitive environment and how to succeed in their market segment. It’s not about your technology, it’s about how your technology will succeed in the China market.”
Working along-side the US judges is a panel of Chinese judges in China who would review each application and utilize a factor-based scoring model to identify companies with the most promise for the China market.
In each of the preliminary competitions, several of the highest scoring companies are invited to participate in a sponsored trip to China every fall to compete in the semi-finals in their sector, and in finals which are against companies from other sectors. The semi-finals and finals include a panel of Chinese judges who are experts in their fields. Winners of the finals are awarded cash prizes, China support services, and media coverage.
The April 29th Detroit preliminaries will offer pitch slots to 10 pre-qualified Michigan technology companies who demonstrate market readiness for the China market. Held in conjunction with the IoT TechConnect, it’s expected that many IoT-based innovations will end up presenting at the April 29 show.
The morning keynote speaker is Autonomous Vehicles experts Lawrence D. Burns, formerly General Motors Corporate Vice President of Research and Development. Burns, who just published his latest book, Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car – and How It will Reshape our World, will discuss his book’s findings – how electric-powered driverless vehicles used in transportation services will radically transform the industries that have sprung up to support the automobile over the past century.
Application to pitch at the 1st InnoSTARS competition in Detroit will open on January 10, 2019 through the link here: https://innostars2019.uschinainnovation.org/register. Deadline to apply is April 8, 2019.