[ Macau Business ] Sino-Lusophone start-up contest returns with final to be held in Macau in Oct

The annual start-up competition between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, the 929 Challenge, is returning for the third edition this year with a final to be held in Macau in October. The current edition of the competition, co-organised by the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macau), better known as Forum Macau, boasts a total prize pool of over US$20,000 (MOP160,000).

As its name suggests, the competition is open to participants from the nine mainland Chinese cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Area, the two Chinese special administrative regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macau, and nine Portuguese-speaking countries, which include Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe, and East Timor.

Speaking at a press conference held on Tuesday, Deputy Secretary-General of the Permanent Secretariat of Forum Macau, Casimiro de Jesus Pinto, said the contest – founded in 2021 – aligns with Forum Macau’s visions of connecting China and Portuguese-speaking countries through innovations and creative business ideas.

Since this year’s edition of the competition is the first to take place in the post-Covid era, Pinto is optimistic that there will be a higher number of participants signing up for the contest.

Forum Macau was a mechanism initiated by the Chinese central government in October 2003, with the participation of authorities from the Macau SAR and Portuguese-speaking countries.

Taking the format of past competitions, the third edition of the 929 Challenge is divided into two categories – one for university students and the other for start-ups – and interested parties can submit their applications to the organiser between June and September.

Marco Duarte Rizzolio, a co-founder of the start-up contest, said at the press conference on Tuesday that a total of 16 teams in two categories are expected to make it to the October final. There will also be a bootcamp providing insights into the business environments of China and Portuguese-speaking countries, as well as opportunities to network with potential investors, he added.

According to Mr. Rizzolio, the 929 Challenge is more than just a competition. It not only promotes entrepreneurship in Macau, but also disseminates knowledge about China, especially the Greater Bay Area, and the Lusophone world. In addition, the contest supports technology transfer and helps to cultivate entrepreneurs with a sustainable mindset.

When asked about the expected turnout for this year’s contest, he stated, “We hope that the number of participants will at least match last year’s level. However, we also place great emphasis on the quality of the projects.” During the last two editions of the competition, over 400 teams, totaling 2,120 participants, took part. The competition also drew the participation of 68 universities from mainland China, Macau, and Portuguese-speaking countries. In 2022, a team from Shenzhen won the university category, while Chinese firm OneDrop was crowned in the start-up category with their solution for avoiding food waste.

No date has been confirmed for the sixth Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Forum Macau) this year, said Casimiro de Jesus Pinto, Deputy Secretary-General of Forum Macau, on Tuesday. Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng confirmed earlier this year that the sixth ministerial conference will finally happen in the city in 2023 following years of delays.

“We don’t have any information yet when the meeting will be held,” said Mr Jesus Pinto addressing the issue. But he confirmed a series of festivities will take place later this year in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Forum Macau, including the Cultural Week of China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. The sixth ministerial conference was originally scheduled to take place in Macau in 2019, but the elections for the chief executive and the legislative assembly in the same year, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic later, have postponed the meeting. The last ministerial meeting was held in Macau in 2017.

Source: https://www.macaubusiness.com/sino-lusophone-start-up-contest-returns-with-final-to-be-held-in-macau-in-oct/

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