The announcement that his pitch had earned Drylet first place in 2017 InnoSTARS Competition Silicon Valley Division had CEO Luka Erceg leap from his seat with a large smile. “I was wrong to believe that robotics would steal the show,” he joked at the Fenwick & West, LLP auditorium in Mountain View, CA, where the event was held last Friday.

Our technology is not your typical Silicon Valley lore, but the jury obviously recognized that Drylet is primed and ready to address a major challenge that has been plaguing China’s people and natural ecosystems : unmitigated water pollution,” he added.

Drylet and the other laureates won sponsored trips to China where they will participate in a roadshow at three Chinese technology hubs, meet with at least 30 potential partners and investors each, and attend InnoSTARS Competition semi-finals.

Fifteen young innovative companies had been selected to participate to the 2017 InnoSTARS Competition Silicon Valley Division from various sectors—including renewable technology & cleantech, healthcare & biotechnology, and information & communication technology.

The five-minute pitch was followed by three minutes of Q&A with a jury of five investors with a strong Sino-US focus: Grishin Robotics Investment Director Ashish Aggarwal, MissionLab Founder Matt Walters, Foocaa Technology VP of Global Innovation Cameron A. Nazeri, SAIC USA Director Tao Wang, and Sky9 Capital Managing Director Jonathan Qiu.

Hosted by the US-China Innovation Alliance (UCIA), China Science and Technology Exchange Center (CSTEC), China Association for International Science and Technology Cooperation (CAISTC), the InnoSTARS Competition program is supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of People’s Republic of China (MOST). Its goal is to provide U.S.-based innovative technology companies with resources to enter the Chinese market, with a view to fulfill the Chinese government’s latest five-year plan to build China into an innovation-led economy by 2020.

Image caption: Luka Erceg (left) stands with the other laureates–Principal Power, Iris PV, Quannovate, MetaData, and BiomeMaker (L to R)