On July 17, the Ford UCAN Innovation Competition finals were held in Shanghai, where eight teams from seven universities across the country vied for the top three prizes of the annual competition with over 450,000 livestream viewers tuning in to witness the event on Zhihu.com, a leading online knowledge sharing social platform in China. This officially brings an end to the six-month run of this year’s Ford UCAN Innovation Competition.
A team from Nanjing University of Technology won the championship spot in this year’s competition with an intelligent road surface project based on assembly-type wireless charging. Their project aims to combine magnetically coupled wireless transmission technology with prefabricated pavement structures to wirelessly charge electric vehicles, thereby increasing the efficiency of charging electric vehicles while also reducing charging costs. A team from Lvpeng Technology of East China University of Science and Technology placed second with a project for electric scooter smart charging services based on the 5G Internet of Things, while a team from Shandong Hydraulic Vocational College won third place for a pioneering concept in anti-pandemic technology.
A number of media outlets from different industries were also in attendance at this year’s Ford UCAN Innovation Competition finals, resulting in a high volume of positive feedback.
Mr. Ren Xinyu, founder of automotive platform Tong Ji Ren and one of the judges of this year’s competition, said: “Ford has provided fertile ground for college students to cultivate their spirit of innovation. The program has not only explored a number of fantastic ideas for future travel, but also established a good social image for Ford and expanded its influence among outstanding young talents." Recognizing the program’s strengths, Mr. Ren also said: “I hope that Ford can further expand its influence with such events, and continue to foster innovation in the next generation of mobility leaders.”
The top eight teams that made it to the final round of this year's Ford UCAN Innovation Competition presented creative and original projects covering fields such as smart cockpits, wireless charging for electric vehicles, shared travel solutions and automotive hardware manufacturing. Seven of the top eight teams have since obtained patents for their concepts, while two have already launched their own businesses.
“UCAN innovation is game of braves full of passion and I am fast-charged with 100% energy, so proud to be there.” Said Pinghui Lv, Ford China Autonomous Vehicle Director.
“With focus on smart mobility which entails smart roads smart cars, and smart charging, UCAN 2021 manifests pragmatic solutions with intrinsic value and hardcore capabilities. “Tony Jiang, Ford ECDX Cloud architecture manager who has been mentoring UCAN candidates for several times, said, “We’ve seen the exuberant innovativeness of Chinese university students. Cheers! To the great innovation projects of Chinese university students. Cheers! To Ford China.”
In 2021, the Ford UCAN Innovation Competition received a total of 164 projects from 50 universities across the country. Through the competition’s built-in training program, 76 volunteer mentors from the mobility and technology sectors participated in the project by coaching student teams and evaluating the progress of their work. In total, the volunteer mentors provided 244 hours of professional training and guidance for the youth innovation projects, with 20 projects being shortlisted in the preliminary rounds of the competition for teams to receive four months of mentorship and training. Throughout the competition, Ford China's engineering team and entrepreneurship mentors engaged the young participants by providing professional insight, operating funds and all-around guidance and support, helping the teams to elevate their projects and enhance their innovative thinking and entrepreneurial capabilities.
Ford has continued to grow for over 118 years thanks to its pioneering spirit and unwavering curiosity – and as such, partnered with Zhihu.com, a knowledge sharing social platform for sparking the extraordinary curiosity of everyday people, to co-launch "Curious Planet" in June of this year. "Curious Planet" is a communication platform for inquisitive users to learn about and explore our "Curious Planet," which also became a channel for this year’s UCAN contestants to share their work and interact with the public.
This collaboration with Zhihu.com also marks a breakthrough in CSR communications. So far, this campaign has achieved 25.8 million gross reach among Chinese audiences. Leading tech KOLs were invited to guide these conversations, which further evoked enthusiasm for innovation and disruptive technologies among young people. The number of interactions reached 1,000 and the campaign’s pageview reached 4,500,000.
Supported by the Ford Motor Company Fund, Ford China launched the Ford UCAN Innovation Competition in 2018 as an important part of its corporate social responsibility initiatives. The program aims to encourage young people to think creatively about how to address mobility challenges through innovative solutions. In the past four years since the program’s launch, the competition has attracted 436 projects from 161 universities across 34 cities and nine countries around the world, as well as strong participation from 157 Ford China employee volunteers who have contributed nearly 1,500 hours of training and mentorship for 2,800 youth participants.