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Three startups that wowed Jack Ma and won Alibaba's backing

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After hearing 600 pitches spanning fintech and robotics to healthy ageing, three startups will share US$3 million in backing from an entrepreneurs fund set up by billionaire Jack Ma.

[HONG KONG] After hearing 600 pitches spanning fintech and robotics to healthy ageing, three startups will share US$3 million in backing from an entrepreneurs fund set up by billionaire Jack Ma.

Jumpstarter, a competition for new ideas and products similar to TechCrunch Disrupt, has the backing of Mr Ma's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, which unveiled its HK$1 billion (S$173.4 million) fund in 2015 to support startups.

A shortlist of six candidates made the final pitches on Tuesday, getting eight minutes to talk about their products and then four minutes of questioning by the judging panel. Among the criteria used to decide winners were innovation, community impact and market potential.

Here are their ideas.

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The winners:

Cuttingedge Medtech Ltd: Robot doctors may not be science fiction anymore. A team of robotic and medical imaging graduates is building specialised surgical robots for orthopedics, neural surgery and oral implants. The vision is personalised care with minimal invasive surgery.

Farm66 Investment Ltd: The company is joining the increasingly hot field of hydroponics and vertical farming as companies try to alleviate a global food crisis with sustainable agriculture. Combining indoor farming with fish ponds, this startup has already won a couple of awards from local industry associations.

En-Trak Hong Kong Ltd:This four-year-old startup targets commercial buildings with a connected device platform to help manage power use. En-Trak says it can pull in data from existing meters to manage consumption and lower costs while also lowering carbon emissions, with customers already including Hong Kong Stock Exchange and Fuji Xerox.

The other finalists:

BeeInventor: Trying to bring a technology solution to an old-fashioned industry, BeeInventor has built a cloud-based platform for communication among construction workers. Its Dasloop product fits over the helmets worn on building sites and monitors body temperatures, warns of potential collisions and provides video feeds. It can also connect to gas detectors or a flashlight.

Viewider: This startup aims to help merchants on e-commerce sites pick the best site to sell on. Viewider builds search and market research tools that help online merchants suss out global e-commerce services such as eBay or Amazon, register products for sale and price their wares accordingly.

Human Washer Ltd: Like a car wash for people. This startup offers the Sit & Shower, a device that enables the elderly and mobility impaired to bathe with automated soaping, temperature control, 13 surrounding water jets and air drying. The company says the device also cleans itself.

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