by Joshua Flannery | Manager, Student Entrepreneur Development & Co-founder at FounderLab

Last week saw 9 startup teams compete for return flights to China, government-led introductions to Chinese partners and an opportunity to be a part of reality TV program, The Next Unicorn through The UNSW Startup China program, which is now in its second year.

Joe Allen and Mary Liu, who co-ordinated the program were extremely happy with the way it has developed over the last 12 months.

“It has grown from a pitching event to a program including workshops and a China based program for the winning teams,” Allen said, while Liu added, “It has become somewhat of a ‘battle of the accelerators’ with teams from muru-D, Springboard, Startmate, H2 and Slingshot accelerator programs all competing for the top spot.”

The top 3 spots at this year’s event were won by female entrepreneurs.

Elisa Mokany of SpeeDx, a medical diagnostics startup recently a part of the Springboard Enterprise accelerator program, was voted the overall winner by a judging panel of 8 including investors, representatives of China based technology parks, China expert entrepreneurs and a China based VC that has just arrived in Sydney this week.

Mokany explained, “I’m still in shock at outcome but I think it has brought forward an amazing opportunity and SpeeDx will embrace all we can from this.”

The program is one of four flagship events run by the UNSW Innovations Student Entrepreneur Development (SED) team and is important to creating a platform for Australian entrepreneurs to connect with opportunities in Asia, one of the overall aims of the organisation.

The win for SpeeDX is a symbolic and important one; it is extremely important to encourage more female entrepreneurial students into STEM studies and startups, and as an inventor on 8 patents relevant to SpeeDX, Elisa is a great role model. She studied at UNSW, obtaining a Bachelor of Science with Honours 1st Class and later completed her PhD at JJR in conjunction with the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Science at UNSW. She is an amazing example of science research leading to entrepreneur success.

Second place was awarded to China Australia Millennial Project, founded by Andrea Myles and Rachel Walters, while Freight Exchange, a muru-D startup founded by Cate Hull, took out third place.

Myles was pleased with the result and experience of participating in the program itself, saying, “It was an absolutely amazing experience and I’m really thrilled to have been a part. In addition to taking out a prize, I learned a lot and made some terrific connections and new friends.”

The winning 3 teams will commence the China leg of the program in early 2016.

Startup Daily