Israeli startups NiniSpeech and AerialGuard won first and second place, respectively, at the Global Innovation Awards 2016, a startup competition featuring 21 startups from around the world competing for $1.5 million in cash prizes.

NiNiSpeech, which developed a revolutionary digital platform for treating speech disorders, took first place in the competition.

‎”Winning first place is a personal victory for me and offers new hope for millions of children and adults around the world who suffer the daily agony of difficulty in expressing themselves fluently,” said NiniSpeech founder and CEO Yair Shapira, whose child suffers from a speech disorder.

This is the second consecutive year that an Israeli startup won first place in the competition. Last year, DiaCardio, developer of innovative software for decoding echocardiograms, took the crown.

“The fact that an Israeli startup won the competition for the second year in a row not only demonstrates Israel’s technological edge and out-of-the-box thinking, but also the Israeli tech market’s relevance for global markets, specifically with a focus on China. A true competitive edge is based on deep technological thinking and acute understanding of market and problem domains. Israeli entrepreneurs have become great at both, paving the way to an outstanding Israeli startup ecosystem,” said JVP partner Yoav Tzruya, who served as a judge in the finals.

AerialGuard, this year’s second place finisher, developed an autonomous navigation system for unmanned aircraft.

“The competition has been an empowering experience which underscored the real need for our technology, which, with relatively simple means, transforms every drone into a smart, autonomous drone,” said AerialGuard co-founder Itay Orr. “China is a drone superpower. We hope that our win at the competition will help us advance our operations in China and in other strategic locations in East Asia.”

The Global Innovation Awards contest was initiated by Chinese consulting firm ShengJing360. The finals took place in Beijing as part of the Entrepreneur Festival, attracting entrepreneurs and investors from all over the world.  ‎ ‎

Startup competitors included 10 from China, six from the US, three from Israel (genetic-therapy-for-cancer developer Boomerang was the third Israeli contender) and two from Europe.

The top five startups will each receive $200,000 in cash‎, while the startups in 6th to 10th place will each receive $100,000. The finalists will also embark on a road show with Chinese internet giants over the next several days.

The ShengJing Group is also considering investments in some of the startups through a dedicated investment fund set up for the competition.