April 25, 2019

Application Deadline: April 7, 2019


InnoSTARS is a market-readiness pitch competition that offers an opportunity for innovative U.S. technology companies to demonstrate their readiness for the China market. It is a three-round pitch competition where U.S. companies selected from preliminary (U.S.) rounds in spring/summer go to China in fall on a sponsored trip to compete in the semi-final and final rounds. In addition, InnoSTARS is a platform for connecting U.S. technology companies with prospective partners in China, such as distributors, corporations, incubators and accelerators, and investors. Since 2017, more than 1,000 U.S. technology companies applied to the InnoSTARS, and over 200 scored high enough to advance to the semi-final and final competitions in China. 

A unique aspect of the InnoSTARS competition is the makeup of the judging panels. InnoSTARS U.S. preliminary round onsite judges consist of investors, executives, entrepreneurs, researchers, and consultants who are experts in related industries or experts with deep on-the-ground China business experience, or both. InnoSTARS China semi-final and final round judges are a mix of U.S. experts and their Chinese counterparts. This setup of judging panels increases the chance for successful China partnerships for the U.S. companies.

In 2018, out of 900+ U.S. applications, the grand prize went to a Colorado company—Golden-based Pharmajet, and the Best Business Model Award went to Boulder-based Vairex Air Systems.

In its third year, the 2019 InnoSTARS theme is Pitch-Coach-Match with targeted coaching and matching efforts to assist ready U.S. companies to build out their China network and connect with interested partners before and during the China-part of the competition.

The Denver preliminary round welcomes companies from all industries covered by InnoSTARS (see “Industries of Focus”). The pitch competition in most preliminary rounds (except for the Houston Preliminary) as well as the final round are mixed-industry such that companies compete against contestants from different industries. Semi-final rounds, however, are competitions within the same industry category (also called “industry finals”).

Why should companies compete?

If your company or a company you know has China on its strategic development map, you should consider applying to InnoSTARS. The competition is not only a fantastic way to embark on your journey to China, it is also an extremely rewarding experience where you meet fellow entrepreneurs and executives as well as investors and ecosystem builders who share your aspirations of growth and expansion through China.

How long is the pitch?

10-minute pitch followed by 5-minute Q&A.

What are the judging criteria?

InnoSTARS judges through all stages of the competition are using the same judging form to assess the competing US technology companies on their “readiness” for success in the China market.

Ultimately, having an innovative solution is not enough. Those companies with innovative solutions that can demonstrate that they are ready for the China market are the most likely to move to later stages of the competition.

What do past participants say about InnoSTARS?

“Without the InnoSTARS support, we would not have nearly as many potential Chinese partners and investors interested in what PharmJet is doing. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for matchmaking and I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for companies to see other technologies in different fields.”

Heather Potters
Co-Founder & Vice-Chairman
PharmaJet, Inc. (Golden, CO)
2018 InnoSTARS Grand Prize Winner

“InnoSTARS is a great way for companies new to the Chinese market to quickly get up to speed in both understanding and visibility, but even for companies like us, the opportunity to leverage our existing presence was invaluable. We’re running with that now.”

Ski Milburn
Co-Founder & CEO
VAIREX Air Systems (Boulder, CO)
2018 InnoSTARS Best Business Model Award


– Advanced Manufacturing
– Biopharma
– Energy
– Environmental Technology
– Information & Communication Technology
– Materials
– Medical Device, Digital Health & Diagnosis




8:00AMRegistration and Networking
8:30AMWelcome Remarks
8:45AMPitch Group 1
10:15AMPitch Group 2
12:30PMChina Panel
2:00PMPitch Group 3
3:30PMPitch Group 4
6:30PMEvent concludes


Please email Eva Yao