The 2019 Shenzhen Dream Catcher Cup University Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship Contest is gaining popularity, with 397 students having signed up and 366 passing the qualification selection, said the organizer, Shenzhen Public Employment Service Center.
Among the qualifiers, 141 are college students and 225 are fresh graduates from universities. They come from 150 colleges and universities from home and abroad. Among them, 65 percent hold professional or bachelor’s degrees, 25 percent have master’s degrees and 10 percent have doctoral degrees.
The organizer initiated the contest this April, offering a total of 3.6 million yuan (US$522,720) in prizes. The final will be held in September and the first-prize winner will receive an award of 500,000 yuan.
Students who have a registered startup, or who aspire to start their own business, and live on-campus at Shenzhen colleges or have graduated within the past five years are eligible to apply. In its fourth year, the annual event has canceled its previous hukou restriction and also invited students from Hong Kong and Macao to expand participation.
Among the applicants, 181 graduated in the past five years while nearly 40 percent are on-campus students. Thirty-two candidates, or more than 10 percent, are returned overseas students. The registration result shows half of the projects in the contest are from the Internet, e-commerce and gaming industries. The projects mainly involve electronic information, Internet, high-tech, biopharmacy and cultural education services.
The contest has become a well-known program for student entrepreneurship. In the past three years, 1,032 innovation teams have signed up, and it has given out 8.7 million yuan to 85 winning projects. The highest prize for a single project is capped at 500,000 yuan.
The organizer has worked out other incentives, such as mentorships, loans, project promotions and financing matching, to support contestants. An individual applicant can receive a loan of up to 300,000 yuan, while a partnership startup can get a loan of up to 3 million yuan with three years of interest subsidies.
Wen Yanming, the winner of the 2018 contest, participated in training programs to improve her entrepreneurial capabilities and project promotions in the Pearl River Delta region. She thinks the organizer is offering a platform and rewards to encourage student entrepreneurship. Through the contest, she was able to meet a lot of people who shared her vision.
Yang Wenwu, the first-prize winner in 2017, received 5 million yuan in angel-round investment for his Dongchuan Technology Research Co. Ltd. The firm’s product, silicon nitride, has achieved mass production while reaching the globally advanced level across many quality indices.