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HK$10m up for grabs as new council aims to give start-ups in Hong Kong a helping hand

New Hong Kong Startup Council launches programme where companies are shown the ropes by industry experts, and stand a chance to win a grant

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 8:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 8:00am

A group of industrialists and entrepreneurs have pledged their support for start-ups by creating a HK$10 million investment fund as well as networking opportunities with the city’s elite.

Established by the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, the Hong Kong Startup Council would act as a platform for up-and-coming companies to engage investors, while receiving assistance on aspects ranging from bookkeeping and logistics to patent registration.

The initiative is in line with Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah’s budget this year, where he announced the establishment of a HK$2 billion innovation and technology matching fund to boost support for technology start-ups.

But council chairman Jack Yeung Chung-kit said what they offered was not just monetary support, but a network of experts to give start-ups a shortcut to getting into their targeted industries.

“The [Federation of Hong Kong Industries] represents 32 industry groups, which means we know people from everywhere,” he said.

Project to offer US$30,000 in seed funding to five Hong Kong start-ups

But applicants would need to meet certain requirements: they must have a business registration and must not be operating in the city for more than five years. A four-member advisory committee would then vet applications based on their individual merits and potential.

Those selected would then join a six-to-nine months programme, guided by industry professionals. Mentors from specific business fields would be paired with young entrepreneurs to help iron out obstacles.

Karmen Yeung Ka-yin, who is one of the mentors, pointed out that start-ups often neglect the importance of maintaining a sound financial statement.

“Tidying your books is vital for any company to maintain a good relationship with banks, as well as the prospects of future listing,” she reminded entrepreneurs.

At the end of the programme, a demo day would be organised for start-ups to make their pitch to the panel for a chance to win a grant of up to HK$10 million. After that. the programme would start again, covering different themes each time such as the internet of things, robotics or artificial intelligence.

The number of start-ups has grown rapidly in recent years. According to InvestHK, there are now 1,600 start-ups in the city, a 50 per cent jump compared with 2014.

The science park in Sha Tin has been earmarked to provide an additional 70,000 sq m of floor space by 2020, with the government bearing half of the HK$4.4 billion construction costs.