InnoVEX, the startup focused exhibition of COMPUTEX has ended on May 31 with great fanfare. Having a trend of high growth in previous years prompted a venue shift to the much larger TWTC Hall 1 to accommodate more visitors and more exhibitors. InnoVEX has continued to grow significantly since it began in 2016. The number of visitors grew from 10,957 in 2016 to 18,251 in 2019; while the number of exhibitors increased from 217 to 467 over the course of 4 years.
The 467 startups that exhibited come from 25 countries and regions: Brazil, Canada, Mainland China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K. and the U.S..
Biotech has gained a stronger presence in InnoVEX 2019 as many exhibitors were focused on innovative products, solutions, and applications in biotech. It was also one of the main topics of the InnoVEX Forum, and 2 of the 7 winners of the InnoVEX Pitch Contest were also biotech startups.
InnoVEX was also visited by the Founder and Chairman of Foxconn, Mr. Terry Gou. He stated that exhibitions are vital to Taiwan as it can bring a more innovation driven growth to Taiwan. Startups need market and capital funding platforms, which is why he wanted to help build Taiwan into an ICT investment island.
Strong Government Support in InnoVEX
Innovation, new technology, and startups are not only on demand from the private organizations, but also government. Seeing how startups can actually benefit everyone involved; including startups, corporations, and government; it is not a surprise that InnoVEX was greatly supported by the government; both local and international. The opening of InnoVEX 2019 was attended by the Premier of R.O.C (Taiwan), Minister of Science and Technology, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs, and more local government representatives. The international government representatives that attended were Mayor of Eindhoven, the Deputy at the French Assemblée Nationale and 23 international trade office representatives.
Many of the exhibitors this year were part of pavilions coordinated by government bodies, bringing global innovation and perspective to InnoVEX. For example, the largest pavilion in InnoVEX 2019 is the Startup Terrace Pavilion, which is a startup base under the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration (SMEA) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA). The pavilion brought 153 startups with founders from around the world. Startup Terrace also sponsored 5 awards for the InnoVEX Pitch Contest worth a total USD 300,000 in addition to corporate resources and residency in the Startup Terrace itself.
Taiwan Tech Arena (TTA) under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) also organized a pavilion joined by 79 startups from multiple industries. In addition, TTA also sponsored the InnoVEX Pitch Contest Grand Prize Taiwan Tech Award worth USD 100,000; organized a Forum Session during the InnoVEX forum on Startup Ecosystem; sponsored InnoVEX Taiwan Tech @Night Party as well as holding 2 Pitch & Match sessions in the InnoVEX Pi Stage.
The government organized pavilions in the event are coordinated by 4 city government in Taiwan and 12 international trade offices, accelerator, and more.
7 Topics of 3 Days in the InnoVEX Forum
As one of the mainstays of InnoVEX, the forum regularly discusses topics most relevant to the ICT industry and startup ecosystem with insightful speakers from leading companies and organizations around the world; including Arm, Qualcomm, IOTA Foundation, NEM Foundation, and more. Covering the topics of AI, IoT, Blockchain, Smart Machinery, Biotech, Startup Ecosystem, and Sportstech, the 3 day forum was held at the Center Stage for audience from visitors and exhibitors to attend and be inspired from.
The sportstech forum debuted in InnoVEX 2019 and started with a keynote session by Mr. Zvika Popper, the VP of Strategy of HYPE Sports Innovation from Israel. The smart machinery and biotech sessions were opened by a remark from Dr. Yu-Chin Hsu, Deputy Minister of the MOST and featured professors from top Taiwanese universities which are members of the Global Research and Industry Alliance (GLORIA); sharing their innovative insights on the topics.
For the IoT sessions, speakers from Arm and Qualcomm were invited to share their insights on the first and second day. The Ecosystem Manager of Arm, Mr. Alessandro Grande introduced the Arm Innovative Innovator program which was created to help the startups capitalize on the opportunity brought by the exponential growth in IoT. One of the speaker from Qualcomm, Mr. Sahil Bansal stated in his keynote that devices are becoming more intelligent and that intelligence is moving from the servers/ cloud to the devices. As AI is key to many IoT use cases, on-device computing becomes vital to reduce latency and improve reliability & security.
One of the speakers from the AI session is Dr. Min Sun, the Chief AI Scientist of Appier. He remarked in his keynote that currently there are 2 missing pieces to reaching the next stage of AI: Human centered AI (using AI to augment human capabilities) and Auto ML. While AI is a powerful tool, it does not mean that AI has to be applied everywhere.
The blockchain forum focused on the many possible uses of blockchain as a technology. The co-founder of IOTA Foundation, Mr. Dominik Schiener stated in his keynote that while many devices rely on IoT, the technology might have been built on the wrong premises infrastructure which can turn IoT into a security threat. He suggested using a distributed ledger to improve the security of IoT; to create immutable & verifiable data, digital identity for machines, machine-to-machine transactions, and autonomous systems.
The startup ecosystem forum sessions are covered multiple topics, with one of the main topics being Global Entrepreneurship Insights. One of the speakers is the Managing Director at Alchemist Accelerator, Mr. Ravi Belani who is also the chief judge of the InnoVEX 2019 Pitch Contest. In his keynote speech, he stated that he hoped Taiwan could leapfrog Silicon Valley and create disruption in unforeseen ways. The difference between a mediocre and a big company is in the way it is strategized. The main points are: gross margins, which will have an exponential effect on the company's cashflow; using new technologies; and network effects.
Biotech Gains Prominence in the InnoVEX Pitch Contest
As one of the main industries of the exhibitors, biotech and its related industries also gained prominence in this year's InnoVEX Pitch Contest. Out of the 143 startups that registered for a total of USD 420,000 prize pool, 4 out of 10 finalists and 2 of the 7 winners were in biotech. The chief judge, Mr. Ravi Belani, commented that the main metrics the judges were looking for were that the startups should be going after something critical, that they are doing something novel or completely new, and that they have a high potential to be a real platform that is bigger than just their current product.
Fulfilling these 3 categories were the main criteria to be a winner in the pitch contest and given the quality of the joining startups; the score difference between the startups were very close. The winner of the InnoVEX Pitch Contest Grand Prize Taiwan Tech Award (USD 100,000) is Medfluid, a Taiwanese health & biotech startup which uses microfluidics to deliver precise antibiotics prescription. In addition to winning the Grand Prize, they were also one of the winners of the Startup Terrace Award (USD 60,000).
The Taiwania Capital Innovation Award (USD 10,000) focused on startups in IoT or biomedical. The winner of this award was MTAMTech; a Taiwanese biotech startup that aims to resolve issues with the ineffective treatment of cancer patients through personalization of treatment. For the Qualcomm Innovation Award (USD 10,000); the winner was Ganzin Technology, a Taiwanese startup that created an AR/VR eye tracking module.
The winners of the Startup Terrace Award (USD 60,000 each) include:
PurCity, a Danish startup that develops self-cleaning and highly-efficient air purification system
MIFLY, a Taiwanese startup in AR/VR with image recognition and tracking technology as the core of their technology
Onesoftdigm (OSD), a South Korean startup that creates a portable device that measures body compositions through Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
MedFluid, a Taiwanese health & biotech startup which uses microfluidics to deliver precise antibiotics prescription
The Startup Terrace JIC Award (USD 60,000) which was sponsored by Startup Terrace and AWS Joint Innovation Center (JIC) awards the winner with cash, free residency, and corporate resources was awarded to OmniEyes, a Taiwanese startup that collects and digitizes live street videos and processes them with AI.
Pitch and Match in the Pi Stage
Over the 3 days of InnoVEX, the Pi Stage hosted pitching, matchmaking, and demo events for exhibiting startups. A dedicated demo session to showcase innovations from around the world was held on the third day of InnoVEX, the Global Demo Day; during which startups from France, Canada, Philippines, and Poland showcased their solutions and products to the potential investors or partners in the audience.
As partners, Taiwan Tech Arena (TTA) held 2 pitch & match events together with Asia-Pacific Accelerator Network (AAN) and Taiwan Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC). In total there were 240 matchmaking sessions with 45 attending VCs from Belgium, Israel, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the U.S.. The InnoVEX Matchmaking Powered by TTA x TIEC focused on startup-VC matchmaking while InnoVEX Matchmaking Powered by TTA x AAN focused on matching startups with accelerators.
A dedicated pitch event for Travel Tech was held on the third day of InnoVEX. Titled the Tourism Tech & Innovation Award, the event was coordinated by the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC); the final pitch round was held on May 31 in the InnoVEX Pi Stage. The event awarded 3 startups that were considered to have enhanced Taiwan's tourism industry by combining it with the ICT industry the best. The winning startups were: Funliday, a travel planning app; Velodash+ Travel, a cycling platform; and iMarts, a platform to confirm the authenticity of products.
Overflowing with Visitors in the InnoVEX Night
Held on May 30, the InnoVEX Taiwan Tech @Night saw numerous visitors from exhibitors, VCs, media, government bodies, and more. Sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Qualcomm, and Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT); the event was held in Umami. The event was joined by over 200 people, flooding the venue with visitors eager to network and enjoy the night for a wonderful 3 hour networking event.
InnoVEX will Return in June 2020
As the organizer, Taipei Computer Association (TCA) stated that with continuous growth over the years, InnoVEX hosted 467 startups from 25 countries and regions and 18,251 global visitors. During the 3 days, exhibitors commented on the growth of visitors and the how more prospective deals sprung up during the exhibition. The invited media and judges; as well as VCs were impressed by the exhibitors and exhibition itself; already planning their return to InnoVEX in 2020. Everyone; both newcomers and returners are welcome in InnoVEX 2020 which will be held in June. TCA will announce more details in Q3 2019.
Videos of InnoVEX 2019 stage events are available in the official YouTube channel