Israeli startups swept the board at the Asia Smartphone Apps Competition in Hong Kong late last week, winning three of the four top prizes.
Israel’s Tekoia, which has developed a universal remote, won the grand prize for the event, and came first in the advertising and marketing category. Castle Builders came first in the Games and Edutainment category, and Bazz, came in second in the creative lifestyle category. The other first place winner in creative lifestyle was a Hong Kong company Ticker International.
“We have conquered the competition, to put it bluntly,” Sagi Karni, Consul General Hong Kong and Macau, told ISRAEL21c. “This is our third year of participating in the Asia app competition, and this year has been the best one for us.”
“The growing success of the Israeli companies at this event shows the increasing strength of the app industry in Israel, and the growing interest of the Asian industry in Israeli apps,” added Elad Goz, the head of the Economic and Trade Mission at the Consulate General of Israel in Hong Kong.
“Out of nine qualifying apps, three are from Israel. It’s a clear sign of the interest from this part of the world. We look forward to next year’s event,” he said.
The Asia Smartphone Apps Contest, held at Cyberport in Hong Kong on June 15-16, has been operating every year since 2012 and is organized by the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association (WTIA).
Over 118 companies took part in this year’s competition from eight countries: Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and Israel. Of these, just nine startups made it to the finals of the competition, three of them from Israel.
This year, ISRAEL21c was invited to be the Israeli judge at the prestigious event, and to give a presentation at the Asia Smartphone Apps Summit on Israeli creativity in the mobile apps industry.
Tekoia’s app, Sure Universal, is a free universal remote-control app for the mobile phone. The app controls anything from smart TVs and media streamers to air conditioning, security cameras and video, photo and music streaming via Wi-Fi.
The company was founded in May 2012 by Viktor Ariel, who was the president and general manager of Samsung’s Israeli R&D Center, and the founder and CEO of TransChip, a fabless semiconductor company developing digital cameras for cell phones, which was purchased by Samsung in October 2007.
“I’m speechless. It was way above and beyond anything we had hoped for,” said Ariel, after his win. “I think it’s a great success for our team, which is the best I’ve ever worked with.”
He added that the company is now launching in China, and is setting up a subsidiary in Hong Kong.
Petah Tikva-based Castle Builders was founded by Gil Abramovich in 2010. Its app, Bookclip, allows you to make free interactive multimedia apps or albums, and is based on the company’s platform which has been used to develop a range of successful multimedia apps for Sony Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Paws (Garfield) and Sanrio (Hello Kitty).
“I’m deeply honored to have our app reaching the first place on the Asia Smartphone Apps Contest. We hope that all our hard work in creating an innovative user-experience and an intuitive interface will help us reinvent storytelling and make app creation accessible to everyone,” he said.
The Bazz Safe Connect platform was founded by Eliezer Polak, a brigadier-general in the Israel Defense Forces. The hands-free app allows drivers to listen to text and voice messages while driving, and is designed not only for car drivers but also for motorcyclists and fleet companies.
“So many lives are lost on the road because drivers are texting as they drive. It’s become an epidemic in every country in the world,” said Polak. “Bazz solves this problem by reducing the temptation to touch the phone. It reads the messages to the driver and lets them respond verbally, without taking their eyes off the road, or their hands off the wheel.”
Next year the organizers plan to make the event larger than ever before, Kenny Yui, chairman of WTIA, told ISRAEL21c. “We are already in discussions to incorporate more countries from the region, such as Australia and India,” Yui told ISRAEL21c.
“We look forward to next year’s event to see even more app developers apply. It looks like the scope of the competition is going to be larger with more participating apps from other countries and regions,” said Goz.