China innovators

Fung Group teams up with start-ups, incubators and venture capitalists for ‘incubator of incubators’

The Hong Kong major gathers innovators in Shanghai as it seeks to build an ecosystem for smart supply-chain management and revamp its Explorium project

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 October, 2017, 12:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 October, 2017, 10:50pm

The Hong Kong trading, supply-chain management and retail major Fung Group on Friday announced partnerships with start-ups, incubators and venture capitalists in Shanghai, moving a step closer in its pursuit of an ecosystem for smart supply-chain management.

The partnerships will also revamp the company’s Explorium project in Shanghai, billed as “the world’s first retail business model-testing platform”. Initiated in 2015, the revamped Explorium 2.0 provides a dedicated space for the incubation of technology start-ups focused on global supply-chain management and fashion within a 250,000-square feet complex at the company’s mainland headquarters.

The Fung Group will work with technology start-ups such as TechNode and Tezign and incubators such as ARM Accelerator, Microsoft Accelerator and Plug and Play Tech Centre to build up an ecosystem that will fully unlock opportunities through the digitisation of the global supply chain.

The company has also joined hands with a raft of venture capitals, including ZhenFund, SB China Capital, Gobi Partners, Yunqi Partners and Cherubic Ventures, for its global smart supply-chain ecosystem.

“What we want to do is to gather all the people that are doing innovation in the global supply chain into one place and we have the convening opportunity to put everybody together to create and discuss new ideas,” group chairman Victor Fung Kwok-king told the South China Morning Post in Shanghai.

And there is ample reasons to not only work with start-ups but incubators and other partners as well, he said, stressing that the Fung Group wants to act as a convenor working with different parties with shared interest.

“We think there is an opportunity to create an incubator of incubators, one level up, in Shanghai, at the Explorium 2.0,” he said. “That is really one of the most important things we can develop. We will bring incubators from all over the world to focus on the global supply chain. We hope to bring a new model.”

One of the biggest advantages for the Fung Group is its proximity to the production supply chain, he added.

The Explorium project, a brainchild of Fung’s, started operation two years ago in Shanghai, mainland China’s commercial hub, as a retail laboratory for the group to track and analyse consumer behaviour. Unlike conventional stores, the laboratory only allows in registered members, enabling the project to track consumer traffic, how shoppers navigate aisles and capture their response to promotion campaigns to better understand demand and adjust marketing strategies.

The company chose Shanghai to do the experiment as the city is at the forefront of one of the most exciting and challenging retail markets in China, with the most tech-savvy and sophisticated shoppers.

Fung said the members-only model will continue as the 40,000 member base can be used for different tests within the complex.