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Game Changers

Hong Kong's education system 'turning out bureaucrats' not entrepreneurs, expert warns

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 March, 2015, 5:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 March, 2015, 7:09pm

Hong Kong needs to do more to promote creativity and entrepreneurship for young people if it is to succeed in developing a strong ecosystem for start-ups, an experienced business founder warned today.

Serial entrepreneur Yat Siu, founder and CEO of digital media company Outblaze, said the city should learn from the Finnish education system, which places less emphasis on formal exams.

“If you think about my children going to school and the way they’re being educated, I think that’s not very helpful for creating a creative, playful mindset because essentially it’s still turning out bureaucrats,” Siu said at the South China Morning Post's inaugural Game Changers forum today.

Siu was speaking on a panel focusing on how start-ups and larger corporations can encourage innovation.

He said that a diverse workforce can lead to more creative thinking, as a group of people from around the world think and bounce ideas off each other in different ways.

“We are trying to connect completely different cultures and mindsets in a diverse workplace where people can rub off ideas and this can only work, unfortunately, if you bring in people from all over the world,” Siu said.

Dominic Allon, managing director of Google in Hong Kong, said it is important for businesses to create opportunities for all staff to collaborate and put forward suggestions.

“One of the key tenets of our culture is that ideas can come from anywhere, and we have to nurture the future from any level.” Allon said.

“The litmus test is how would you respond to the 23-year-old who’s been in your company for three years and has spotted a better way of doing something.”

However, simply promoting creativity may not be enough at a time when ideas and products can be copied overnight, said artist and illustrator Prudence Mak.

Mak, co-founder of brand Chocolate Rain, said the issues designers face have changed since she launched her company fifteen years ago as online stores are now quick to rip-off designs and sell items at a reduced cost.

“Not just being a designer, you have to create new things everyday, but also you have to manage really well your copyright issues, your patents and your licensing,” she said.