Wheelock and HK science park team up to offer free city-centre meeting venue for start-ups and investors
6,000 square foot “HKSTP @Wheelock Gallery” in Queensway Plaza offers five conference rooms and a product exhibition area
Hong Kong start-ups are being given the chance to use a free, prime city centre location in which to meet and pitch their ideas to, hopefully, deep-pocketed investors.
As part of a new collaboration between development giant Wheelock Properties and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), registered firms will have access to five conference rooms and a product exhibition area, within the newly opened, 6,000 square foot “HKSTP @Wheelock Gallery” in Queensway Plaza in Admiralty, without charge.
Location is the facility’s biggest selling point, explained Albert Wong, HKSTP’s chief executive, launching the initiative on Wednesday.
“The gallery is right in the heart of Hong Kong’s financial industry. That will allow people, even from all around the world, to meet and to get to know our start-ups, and what we do at the science park.
“We’d like to see a lot of pitching [for finance] carried out at the gallery. Some potential investors even made bookings for the meeting rooms today, at our opening.”
Wheelock is one of Hong Kong’s biggest builders of luxury homes and shopping centres and the new facility was previously used as a sales centre, then as an art and cultural exhibition venue.
The science park is a statutory body that labels itself as having one simple goal – to transform Hong Kong into the regional hub for innovation and technology development.
Ricky Wong, Wheelock Properties’ managing director, said he hoped the new facility will act as a nursery for fostering innovation and technology.
His company has already been introducing a variety of technology-driven ideas to simplify and improve its own business efficient, he said.
“We have introduced an app, for instance, developed by a start-up in the science park, to help smooth procedures when owners take possession of new flats. It effectively reduces the time and cost compared to manually filling in forms and applications.
“When we talk about technology or innovation, it is not necessarily about big things. Even small solutions can boost the experience of users.”
The gallery will be open to users until December, but Ricky Wong added Wheelock will continue to work in collaboration with the science park to help innovative start-ups gain a footing and a presence in the city centre.
“We are actively looking at other spaces. Incentives such as favourable rent could be one of the ways to help, but we firmly believe the science park plays a critical role in fostering the city’s innovation ecosystem.”
In her first policy address last year, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam proposed increasing the government resources dedicated to research and development, pooling technology talent, providing investment funding and offering research infrastructure.
And in February within his budget, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po revealed the government plans to spend HK$50 billion (US$6.37 billion) on further developing technology.
That cash is being split between the science park and its activities (HK$10 billion), the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park (HK$20 billion), the government’s Innovation and Technology Fund, and independent biotechnology platforms (who have access to HK$10 billion).
One of the interested entrepreneurs at the launch on Wednesday was Langston Suen, the founder and CEO of Opharmic Technology, a Hong Kong-based medical technology start-up.
“We sometimes find it difficult to fix a time slot with investors or industry players who have to come all the way from the city to our office in the science park (which is next to Sha Tin racecourse). It could easily take them an hour [to get there], he said.
“So we will definitely use the space frequently to present our products and ideas to potential investors.”