Fortune China awarded Chinese technology start-up Waterdrop ‘Innovator of the Year’ on Friday, presenting the award to the company’s co-partner and general manager Yang Guang at the closing of this year’s Fortune Global Tech Forum in Guangzhou.
Founded in 2016, Waterdrop initially sought to help those who struggled to pay their medical bills through the creation of an online crowdfunding platform. The company now has nearly 300 million monthly active users in China and has grown into three different channels: one for crowdfunding, another for pooling healthcare resources and mutual aid, and a third for insurance brokerage.
The company has been foundational in bringing a large portion of China’s population into the digital insurance market. Company officials have argued that they are making healthcare more convenient, affordable, and accessible to the country.
Stella Zheng and her start-up, Casivision, came in second place behind Waterdrop. Casivision, also started in 2016, is an advanced manufacturing company focused on automating inspection processes in high-end glass- and screen manufacturing.
Jiang Yu’s Robot++ came in third place. The Beijing-based technology company is dedicated to automating out the most dangerous industrial tasks in the manufacturing process. In doing the dirty work in cleaning ships, spraying down chemical plants, inspecting oil facilities, and much more, its robots aim to create “no dangerous work in the world.”
The competition this year for the award was especially fierce, as Fortune China’s editors had reached out to top venture capital companies in China and got back a list of 57 companies. To qualify for the competition, the companies had to be no older than five-years-old, to have executed at least one round of funding, and either be based in China or have a strong connection to the Chinese market.
After whittling this list down to nine for the forum, each of the remaining companies was given an opportunity to present its work to the forum’s audience plus three judges. These companies also included everything from China’s largest co-working company Ucommune, to the autonomous driving company WeRide, and the wearable tech company Buttons.
The final decision to award top prize to Waterdrop was made through a combination of votes from audience members and deliberations amongst magazine staff.
Fortune China editors said that they were especially impressed that this year’s top competitors aimed to use innovation in a socially-conscious manner.
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