Top 5 most promising Hong Kong start-ups
Hong Kong, one of the world's leading financial centres, is now also catching up with regional and global competitors when it comes to technology and innovation as the city attempts to diversify its economy away from the twin pillars of property and financial services.
SCMP staff reporters have sifted through the Hong Kong start-up scene to find some of the most promising companies to come out of the city. Their inclusion is based on the new technology they offer, funding received and the market gap they fill.
Originally envisioned as a business selling advertising on takeaway lunch-boxes, the founders of GoGoVan soon switched to logistics when they discovered how hard it could be to book delivery drivers through Hong Kong’s dispatch centres. GoGoVan’s app connects users with 18,000 registered drivers and has expanded to Singapore. In August 14, the company secured US$6.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Centurion Investment Management.
Hong Kong-based firefighting robot firm Insight Robotics has developed a wildfire detection system combining thermal imaging and artificial intelligence technology to spot fires. Insight Robotics’ systems are already in use in five provinces and seven cities across mainland China. The company was founded in 2009 and announced in November it had secured US$2 million in Series A funding from investors including Bright Success Capital, and Caldera Capital Partners.
Vitargent uses fish embryos to test food, cosmetics or other consumer goods for contaminants and toxins. Founded in 2010 and based out of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, the company claims it can screen for more than 1,000 toxins at once compared to the five to 10 toxins for existing technology. In March, Vitargent closed Series A funding from California-base venture capital firm WI Harper for an unknown sum.
In a city plagued by tiny living spaces, on-demand box storage start-up Boxful offers a solution by picking up a customer’s belongings from their homes to be stored in warehouses and returned when needed. Founded in October last year, Boxful’s services start at HK$49 a month for a standard box which holds up to 20 pairs of shoes. Boxful raised $1.5 million for the venture from unnamed angel investors and has recently launched a major MTR advertising campaign.
Launched in August 2014, Sensbeat is a mobile app which allow users to share their moods through music and photographs. Sensbeat’s founders are graduates of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and became the city’s first student-led start-up to secure US$500,000 in seed funding. They went on to receive an additional US$500,000 from HeungKong Group. In January, Sensbeat joined the Plug and Play three-month accelerator in Silicon Valley, which has become a hub for international talent.