UBS launches digital hub in Hong Kong to help link tech start-ups with its high-net-worth clients

The facility plans to host client tours and industry tech events, and even start-up speed dating

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 December, 2017, 9:24pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 December, 2017, 9:24pm

UBS, the Swiss global financial services company, has opened a new digital centre in Hong Kong to try and help link up tech start-ups with some of its most successful high-net-worth clients, potentially as investors.

Amy Lo, chairman and head of Greater China at UBS Wealth Management, called the new venture “a platform for engagement, networking and knowledge sharing among our clients and the tech start-ups”.

“It can allow them to explore what technologies are affecting their industries, which could disrupt the way people do business, and live their personal lives in future”, referring to the use of so called “disruptive technology”, or technology that significantly alters the way that a business operates. The most recognised examples include smartphones and e-commerce retailing.

UBS’ “The Digital Hub” plans to host client tours and industry tech events, and even start-up speed dating, “bringing clients and start-ups closer together to forge collaborations”, as well as “exploring cutting-edge technologies to identify opportunities and address challenges” faced by UBS itself.

It is based Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon and has so far mainly targeted clients in the retail, manufacturing, and property sectors. It has also hosted tech events related to the fintech and logistics industries.

UBS said its main clients have net worth ranging between US$2 million and US$50 million.

In June, since the centre’s opening, UBS has invited about 100 start-ups, most Hong Kong based, to connect with some of its clients, in sectors as diverse as artificial intelligence, big data, robotics, driverless cars, construction materials, and the internet of things.

“We want to support Hong Kong’s drive to become a centre of technology innovation,” said Cat Rüst, head of innovation technologies at UBS Wealth Management in Greater China.

“Some progress has been made, but Hong Kong’s ecosystem still needs to grow.”

She said one of the biggest challenges is changing the conservative mindsets of many in the city, who are more accustomed to investing in stocks and property, than early-stage start-ups.

In June, UBS also said it had started collaborating with the Hong Kong X-Tech Start-up Platform, a start-up organisation cofounded by Neil Shen, managing partner of Sequoia Capital China,

Zexiang Li, a professor from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Guanhua Chen, a professor from Hong Kong University.

The collaboration is also aimed at proving a platform for networking and knowledge sharing among tech start-ups and the business community.