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City’s next billion-dollar start-up could emerge from electronics sector, says Arrow president

Experts see the Greater Bay Area initiative, which covers major electronics manufacturing hubs on the Chinese mainland, providing increased opportunities for Hong Kong start-ups to expand

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 September, 2017, 7:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 September, 2017, 12:24pm

Closer economic integration between Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong province within the ambitious Greater Bay Area plan is expected to foster the development of Hong Kong’s next “unicorn” start-up in the electronics sector, according to experts.

“I’m very positive that this could happen very soon,” Simon Yu, the president of Arrow Electronics’ components business in the Asia-Pacific, told the South China Morning Post.

“Under that environment, we will see more start-ups connect the dots and become part of the world’s technology innovation value chain.”

Increased awareness about local hi-tech start-ups’ opportunity to join the ranks of companies worth more than US$1 billion follows recent news of Hong Kong logistics company GoGoVan accomplishing that feat.

Last month it agreed to merge with 58 Suyun, the freight business of mainland Chinese online classifieds giant 58 Home, to create the city’s first unicorn.

We will see more unicorns in Hong Kong. The GoGoVan deal shows there is incredible potential for start-ups arising out of the Greater Bay Area initiative
Paul Haswell, a partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons

“We will see more unicorns in Hong Kong. The GoGoVan deal shows there is incredible potential for start-ups arising out of the Greater Bay Area initiative,” said Paul Haswell, a partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons. “Any opportunity to be in touch with investors on a wider scale is to be welcomed.”

Premier Li Keqiang announced the Greater Bay Area plan in March as part of an urbanisation push, which would create clusters that leverage the strength of first-tier cities to help spark growth in less-developed cities.

The Greater Bay Area is forecast to achieve US$3.6 trillion in annual economic output by 2037, up from US$1.3 trillion in 2015, according to research published last month by global real estate services company, Colliers International.

Arrow’s Yu pointed out that the current technology innovation supply chain creates situations in which “certain ideas originate from the United States, new technology come from advanced markets like Germany, app development is done in Hong Kong and manufacturing is in mainland China”.

“If you’re an electronics start-up, the Greater Bay Area could make things easier to connect the dots for projects amid the scale of manufacturing done in cities like Shenzhen and Zhuhai,” Yu said.

If you’re an electronics start-up, the Greater Bay Area could make things easier to connect the dots for projects amid the scale of manufacturing done in cities like Shenzhen and Zhuhai
Simon Yu, president of Arrow Electronics’ components business in the Asia-Pacific

For Arrow’s part, he said the company has helped electronics-related start-ups in the city initiate about 700 projects over the past 15 months through its Open Lab facility, located in phase 2 of the Hong Kong Science Park in Shatin.

Listed in New York, Arrow is a global provider of products, services and solutions to industrial and commercial users of electronics components and enterprise computing systems.

Pinsent Masons’ Haswell said the electronics sector’s position in cities including Shenzhen, Dongguan and Zhuhai could lead to “more mainland companies looking to Hong Kong start-ups for innovation and potential acquisitions”.

Arrow last Friday opened its expanded Open Lab facility in a bid to offer more electronics start-ups free services, as well as support the “Sensor Hub” internet of things technology project led by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp.

The internet of things represents a super network, consisting of internet-linked devices embedded in everyday objects that gather, send and receive data, as well as controlled via mobile application.

Yu said Arrow currently helps plenty of Hong Kong start-ups in both consumer and industrial internet of things projects through its in-house expertise, links with suppliers and its portfolio of more than 14,000 different sensors used for various applications.