Government must do more to help start-ups in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 November, 2015, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 November, 2015, 5:04pm

I refer to the report on the secretary for innovation and technology’s nine-point plan (“New IT chief highlights reindustrialisation and smart production”, November 21).

It is encouraging to learn of the long-term vision like re-industrialisation and smart production. There may be too little vision in Hong Kong these days, but technologies are always about dreams and thinking big.

The Young Entrepreneur Development Council (YDC) has run over 16 years a pan-university business plan competition with quite a few successful start-ups, but the quality of the start-ups in Hong Kong has lagged behind the likes of the mainland and the US. Through the years, groups of angel investors (people willing to invest in start-ups) approached YDC and asked why there were so few investible great ideas in Hong Kong. Things are about to change.

Part of the secretary’s plan should be to support start-ups. With the government’s added support, we will see faster progress. There are many private initiatives in the form of co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators. More importantly, underpinning all these activities is a privately initiated movement to get investment for start-ups.

Many active venture and angel investors are based in Hong Kong but invest primarily in the mainland and a group of them formed the Venture Investors Alliance of Hong Kong to help nurture the growth of technology-based businesses in Hong Kong .

Members of the alliance have invested more than
US$3.2 billion in start-ups on the mainland, Hong Kong and the US, spanning many sectors including internet, consumer, health care, IT and financial technologies. We provide a platform for young entrepreneurs in Hong Kong to get access to investor advice and funding and hope that, eventually, we will see successes in innovative companies originating from Hong Kong.

As we embark on this outreach, we find that the quality of the companies is improving and feel that given the entrepreneurial spirit of Hong Kong people, there will be many exciting start-ups coming from this vibrant city. All they need is more understanding of the competitive environment on the mainland, and in the US and the rest of world, and potential partnership opportunities.

We are very willing to provide that, and hope more interested parties will join in, including the government. Together we will find good projects to invest in and nurture, for the good of Hong Kong and its emerging technology-based industries.

Nisa Leung, convener, Venture Investors Alliance of Hong Kong