Hong Kong property giant New World Development taps into lucrative elderly care market in ‘Greater Bay Area’ with HK$1.4 billion investment
- Group has launched Humansa, headed by former Uber Hong Kong chief, as a one-stop rehabilitation service using innovation and big data
- Ambition is based on projects for large segments of population in region to be aged 65 and older in coming decades
Hong Kong property giant New World Development will sail into uncharted waters with a five-year HK$1.4 billion (US$179 million) investment in technological health care services for the ageing population in the “Greater Bay Area”.
The firm spelt out its ambition on Wednesday for what is perceived as a lucrative sector in the bay area, a scheme by the central government to integrate Hong Kong, Macau and nine mainland cities into a technological hub rivalling Silicon Valley.
The group has rolled out Humansa, a one-stop rehabilitation service covering wellness for mature adults and the elderly in the areas of health care, rehabilitation, and elderly home care.
New World Development executive vice-chairman Adrian Cheng Chi-kong said the vision was to create a new ecological life cycle in the bay area with other companies in its stable to tie its property businesses to health care.
Cheng said ageing populations in Hong Kong and in the bay area meant the chance to tap into a lucrative health care market. By 2037, the number of Hongkongers aged 65 and above is expected to more than double to 2.5 million with 60 per cent of the elderly expected to have at least one chronic disease.
According to Consumer Council data, the elderly care market in Hong Kong is estimated to be worth almost HK$140 billion by 2036.
“We have invested some HK$400 million so far and expect to break even in six or seven years with an annual rate of return of 10 per cent to 15 per cent,” Cheng said.
“In the next four to five years, we’ll invest an extra HK$1 billion as next year we plan to tap into the bay area, including first Shenzhen, then Foshan, Shunde and other cities in mainland China,” he added.
The group’s investment in the sector so far includes: the set-up of two service centres in Hong Kong; the purchase of 1,000 beds for elderly care services and hi-tech medical equipment; an online-to-offline (O2O) health platform that uses artificial intelligence and big data; and the recruitment of a care team of more than 100 staff. In five years, it plans to increase the provision of bed spaces for elderly care in the bay area to 4,000.
Highlights of Humansa include the HandyRehab robotic hand, a mechanical glove that helps patients regain their hand movements, “retina photography” to assess risks of stroke and heart diseases, and virtual reality games to provide patients with fun rehab training.
“Using big data in the bay area, we aim to combine technology with health care products to deliver more personalised care services to customers. We can work with local tech firms to enhance their research and development in the region,” Cheng said.
Humansa CEO Kenneth She Chun-chi, former general manager of ride-hailing firm Uber, agreed, saying he hoped to apply his experience of running Uber Hong Kong to the operations of his new company, using big data and innovation technology.
“Like the transport industry in Hong Kong, the health care industry is a market that [has not seen great change]. People still stick to their old ways of thinking in meeting health care needs. I hope to introduce innovative thinking with a humanised and technological approach,” he said.
He said the company would try to offer affordable prices to attract a wider base of customers with each care session costing about a few hundred, including options for customised services in clients’ homes.