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Hong Kong’s start-up boom charges ahead

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 December, 2016, 4:38pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 December, 2016, 4:39pm

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Sheding its reputation for being risk-adverse, Hong Kong continues to see a surge in startups this year. The latest records show a 24 percent rise in startup businesses and a 41 percent growth in employment within the sector; InvestHK’s survey of the city’s startup ecosystem puts the number of new businesses up to 1,926, employing 5,299 workers in 5,618 workstations.

Despite challenging economic headwinds throughout the Greater China region, entrepreneurs flocked to Hong Kong to kick off their commercial ventures in another phenomenal year, and this trend shows no sign of abating. In its 65-page report on the city’s entrepreneurial environment, Compass praised Hong Kong for its absence of bureaucratic red tape and advanced digital infrastructure. The study says Hong Kong is well placed to allow entrepreneurs and their new startups to tap into both the territory’s financial industry as well as the hardware manufacturing hub that’s just a metro ride over the border in the mainland China city of Shenzhen.

Cementing its reputation as Asia’s world city, hundreds of foreigners opted to begin their ventures here ­– Americans made up 20.7 percent of foreign entrepreneurs, followed by the British (13 percent) and Mainland China (11.3 percent). What attracts them to Hong Kong? After spending a decade in Silicon Valley, Bay McLaughlin moved his business here; the co-founder and COO of Brinc explained, “It’s really refreshing to be in a place that understands and relishes physical trade-based businesses.”[1] He added Hong Kong’s successful record in financing and distributing goods made it a no-brainer to relocate his IoT (Internet of Things) firm here.

Once again, technology/IT startups led the way in new registrations: This year, 401 tech firms commenced operations, versus 273 during 2015. Highlighted by the continued success of industry icon GoGoVan, Hong Kong welcomed almost twice as many e-commerce, supply chain, and logistics startups in 2016 compared to the year before (from 142 to 249). Professional consultancies, design agencies, and financial technology businesses round up the top five.

Mr. Charles Ng, Associate Director-General of InvestHK said, “It is encouraging to see the number of startups in Hong Kong growing at this scale – this demonstrates founders believe we are the best choice for aspirational and innovative businesses. I am optimistic that entrepreneurs will continue to leverage Hong Kong’s unrivalled connection with China and utilise its expanding startup ecosystem. ”