Aquaculture vaccine project from Porto University wins “928 Challenge” startup competition

A project for the production of vaccines for aquaculture from Portugal’s University of Porto won the “928 Challenge,” the first competition for university start-ups between Portuguese-speaking countries and China that was completed on Sunday in Macau.

The objective of the winning project, “ProbioVaccine: Tailor-made aquaculture probiotic vaccines,” is to develop probiotic vaccines for aquaculture fish.

Second place went to the team from Universidade Lusófona of Guinea-Bissau, with the project “Green Energy: From nature, with nature, energetic light for all”. Their project aims to install solar panels in the Gabu region in eastern Guinea-Bissau.

Two teams, one from the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ, Brazil) and the other from the Guangdong Polytechnic Normal University (China), shared the third prize with biofertilizer projects from rice husks (Bio Fertilizers: A new solution for rice burning waste) and bath products with elements of traditional Chinese medicine (Fu Yao: Enjoy bathing, Prevent Stroke), respectively.

In the final phase of the “928 Challenge”, which is named after nine cities in the Greater Bay Area, two Chinese special administrative regions and eight Portuguese-speaking countries, 16 teams participated: 10 from China, Macau and Hong Kong; 2 from Mozambique; 2 from Brazil; 1 from Guinea-Bissau, and 1 from Portugal.

“We had 780 registered students from 51 universities. 153 teams were formed, from 5 to 6 people, with some universities having more than one team,” said Marco Duarte Rizzoli from City University of Macau (CityU) who co-founded the “928 Challenge” alongside José Alves, Dean of the Faculty of Business at City University of Macau (CityU).

“We had a strong engagement of students and identified clear areas of needs for entrepreneurs among all countries while the stockholders around the Macau (Sino-Lusophone) platform showed that with little investment it’s possible to do projects with impact and meaning for the platform,” Professor Alves told Macau News Agency.

The positive feedback from participants has encouraged the founders of “928 Challenge” to continue the project. “We thank the private companies that have helped us to have it done and believe in this idea of building bridges between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries and the Forum Macau itself because since the first day they provided the venue and joined the organization,” Mr. Rizzolio said, while adding that they wish to have more support from the local government.

In the first week of a bootcamp, the business environment in Portuguese-speaking countries and China was presented to the participants who, in the second week, were able to develop a business plan oriented towards sustainability.

In this phase, 89 teams delivered developed projects, of which the 16 finalists were selected.

António Trindade, CEO of CESL Asia and one of the judges in this competition, spoke highly of the projects submitted and highlighted the importance of promoting youth entrepreneurship among Macau, China and Portuguese-speaking countries.”

“We could see both the Portuguese-speaking countries’ students and those from China studying each others’ market, also, of the products and services, trying to build value creation in a business perspective. This is extremely important because for Macau,” Mr. Trindade told MNA, noting that “this creates a purpose giving a consequence to the concept of Macau as a platform for relations between China and the Lusophone countries.”

CESL Asia meanwhile will select one of the Chinese teams participating in this competition to join an internship at the group’s livestock farm in Portugal.

“We are developing programs to define sustainability and standards with the European Union and universities in Portugal. We will get them to participate in those programs and hopefully they will bring back the experience and understanding,” António Trinidade added.

In addition to allowing for deepening academic collaborations between higher education institutions in the Greater Bay Area and Portuguese-speaking countries (Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe and East Timor), the competition aimed to identify projects from start-up with the potential to be implemented and supported by investors from Macau, the Greater Bay Area, or Portuguese-speaking countries and foster the development of young entrepreneurs with a global mindset.

The competition was jointly organized by CityU, the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macau), the University of Shenzhen, and the Macau Institute of the United Nations University Institute in Macau.