Uniformed primary school students and camera-toting journalists seemed to outnumber other visitors on the opening day of the Innovation Expo. However, exhibitors at some of the show's 150 booths said they expected visitor numbers to be higher over the weekend. Expo sponsor the Innovation and Technology Commission and various industrial promotional groups launched the event this year to showcase products developed by Hong Kong companies and university labs. Drawing perhaps the largest crowds were electronic toys made by Causeway Bay's Silverlit Electronics. The company's i-Cybie toy dog looks remarkably similar to Sony's Aibo and can be programmed to respond to its owner's voice, do handstands and other tricks. Silverlit had shipped 200,000 units to overseas retailers such as Wal-Mart and FAO Shwartz since the middle of this year, product design manager Alan Wei said. The next generation, to be introduced in mid-2003, will have slots for flash memory. Other tricks and features could then be downloaded from the Web and inserted into the memory slot, he said. Mr Wei said the expo was a good chance to demonstrate its products to primary and secondary school pupils. 'It will be very helpful for the propaganda,' he said. For the more business-oriented, the opening day included presentations by start-up firms which developed their products in Hong Kong. These included SinoCDN, a media-streaming software company co-founded by Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) associate professor Danny Tsang Hin-kwok and a PhD candidate James She Pei-man. SinoCDN has applied for patents on software that helps streaming-media traffic avoid blockages on the Internet. Of the company's technology for switching users over to unblocked connections without interrupting the streams for more than a few seconds, Mr Tsang said that there was no commercial product addressing this problem on the market. Mr Tsang, formerly a principal architect at United States-listed Sycamore Networks, said he expected other companies to follow suit. 'I promise in six months there will be copycats.' Companies already using SinoCDN software include PCCW-HKT. The commission's small entrepreneur programme manager Hui Sai-yu estimated that between 160 and 170 venture capitalists came to hear company presentations yesterday. Mr Hui said venture-capitalist investors had been cautious, but he was encouraged that some follow-on appointments were made. 'They want to see some companies that have their own technologies,' Mr Hui said. 'But the good thing is the investors show up and they give the impression that they are quite keen.' On the show's main floor, the research arms of Hong Kong's universities had large booths, as did the Cyberport project. A number of commercial enterprises, including China Light and Power, 3M and PCCW-HKT, were also represented. One company, Hong Kong DNA Chips, used the show to launch its latest product, a crystal pendant carrying a DNA sample. Customers give a biological sample and receive the pendant within a week. The company's products so far had been computer chips used in research and testing, but response to the new product had been good, said the firm's Apple Chow, especially from people who want to give their DNA to a loved one. 'We can also put two samples in one tube,' she said. Nanotechnology, which relies on molecule-sized components, got the nod. A microscope allowed visitors to view the world's smallest nanotubes, developed by HKUST researchers. Meanwhile, Anson Biotechnology, a Hong Kong-based firm that manufactures products in Shenzhen, displayed medical dressings that used nano-scale antibacterials. The expo, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, ends on Monday. Tomorrow's events include a seminar on Bluetooth wireless technology.