Canada-based Genecis wins the XTC Global Challenge 2020 - the world’s largest startup competition for entrepreneurs addressing global challenges


How can we improve the world? How can we innovate with purpose? How can we make food that is free of toxins? How do we make quality education accessible? How do we convert waste into value? How do we enable rural farmers to earn a decent living? There are innumerable challenges like these today and the world is desperately finding solutions for them. The Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) is designed to help companies that are solving these tough challenges and more.

The global finals of the seventh edition of the world’s largest startup competition for entrepreneurs addressing global challenges offered a glimpse into the effort of eight such promising ventures. In his opening address, Barrett Parkman, Acting Managing Director, XTC, & Director, Samsung Catalyst Fund, shared, “We're super excited to showcase eight amazing startups. They're led by ambitious founders who are solving big challenges in the world.”

To get to the XTC 2020 Finals, the startups advanced through multiple pitches and rigorous reviews and evaluations. From over 2400+ applications from 80+ countries, the evaluation committee selected winners from seven categories to present their pitch at the Global Finals and compete for the title of XTC 2020 winner. The seven startups and their corresponding categories were - MicroGen Biotech (AgTech), Genecis(CleanTech), TOMi Digital (Education); HALA System (Enabling technologies), Rewire(FinTech), Saathi(Healthcare) and (Smart Cities). This year, XTC also saw the addition of two special awards - a female founder award and the COVID-19 Innovation Award.

The Global Finals 2020 saw the eight startups pitching to a panel of world-leading investors and corporate leaders that included internet legend and Yahoo! Co-founder Jerry Yang; Young Sohn, Corporate President and Chief Strategy Officer, Samsung Electronics, and Co-founder of XTC; Tim Draper, Founding Partner, Draper Associates; Philippe Botteri, Partner, Accel; Rafaèle Tordjman, Founder, Jeito Capital; and Bill Tai, Partner Emeritus, Charles River Ventures, and Co-founder of XTC. These leaders in their individual capacities have been early investors in startups like Zoom, Canva, Tesla, SpaceX, Blah Blah Car, DocuSign, Lyft and Didi, among others.

Each of the pitch sessions was preceded by a testimony by an industry leader on how the team brings with it scientific and business expertise and innovation that has potential for big impact. The pitches also saw the entrepreneurs answering live questions by the judges.

Catch the impressive work of all the eight startups that presented the pitch at the XTC Global finals and all the action from the finale

The winners

Talking about the magnitude of the challenge and the effort needed to mitigate those hurdles brought about by COVID-19, academicians, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and even frontline workers shared why beating the pandemic will be a collaborative effort and will need teamwork and innovation. The XTC award for innovation in COVID-19 was awarded to TytoCare - an all-in-one remote medical examination solution platform.

Tamara Steffens, Managing Director, Microsoft M12, while announcing the winner for the Female Founder award, said “With 20 years of experience in Silicon Valley, I've seen firsthand how difficult it can be to grow a successful startup. Challenges can be even more difficult for some just based on their identity. Early-stage female founders pitching for capital on an average receive $1 million less than their male counterparts. Fortunately, XTC is about identifying and empowering people with great ideas, especially when they have additional obstacles to overcome on the path to innovation.”

The XTC Female founder award is given to the highest-ranking finalist in the overall competition, which boasts of woman as one of their founders. This year the award was presented to Dr Xuemei Germaine, Founder, MicroGen Biotech.

Tamara said, “Three billion global acres of soil are contaminated by unsafe levels of heavy metals like arsenic. Microgen develops natural functional microbiomes to reduce heavy metals in crops and protect the health of all mankind while improving the health of soils.” Through her innovation, Dr. Germaine is advancing better food safety and health around the world.

Young Sohn, Corporate President and Chief Strategy Officer, Samsung Electronics, and Co-founder of XTC thanked all the startups that applied and also acknowledged the support the competition received from 2400 companies. He then called Maurice Levy, Chairman, Publicis Group to announce the winner. Maurice in his address congratulated Young Sohn and all the XTC partners for organising an initiative of global impact.

“A year ago, I stood on the stage along with Young Sohn, Bill, Barrett and others and announced the start of XTC 2020. Since then, the world has changed. Today, instead of sharing the same stage, we are now on Zoom. But what has not changed is the importance of tech for good; the importance of aligning business, innovation, entrepreneurship and impact to address the toughest global challenges. And, that is what XTC is all about.”

He added that the judges chose a startup that has demonstrated all of these five values, outstanding leadership, and the promise of making a significant impact in their domain.

Maurice announced Genecis, a Canada-based cleantech startup that converts food waste into biodegradable plastics and other high-value materials as the Global Winner of the Extreme Tech Challenge 2020.

Expressing the excitement of being judged as the winner, Genecis founder and CEO Luna Yu said, “It's great validation knowing that,a lot of people believe in what we're doing.” He also appreciated XTC for its efforts in the months preceding the finale.

“Even though COVID-19 hit, the organisers were on the points with every single mentorship programme and all the boot camps. This has helped us so much.”

Young Sohn then announced the launch of the Extreme Tech Challenge 2021 competition which will host regional and virtual competitions, as well as an online content series, making it easier for startups anywhere in the world to benefit from XTC’s growing platform.

If you're a founder of a startup that wants to do some good for the world, apply for the Extreme Tech Challenge now! Click here.


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