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The power of networks

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 December, 2016, 11:48am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 December, 2016, 11:48am

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Creative, talented, and courageous founders are essential for any startup to succeed­. Yet, no venture can achieve the improbable without another crucial element: a vibrant ecosystem. As Hong Kong’s startup scene gains traction, let’s examine the diverse forces propelling the city’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Chief among these players is the Hong Kong SAR government – through various initiatives and public organisations, it has played an instrumental role in fostering the local startup environment. Governmental bodies involved in generating and nurturing new businesses include InvestHK, Cyberport, Hong Kong Science and Technology Park Corporation, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, and the Innovation and Technology Commission.

As one of Hong Kong’s pioneering efforts to establish itself as a tech powerhouse, Cyberport has grown into a premier Asia-Pacific information and communications technology (ICT) hub. By nurturing ICT industry startups and accelerating ICT adoption with strategic initiatives and partnerships, Cyberport continues to make timely contributions to the local startup ecosystem.

Established in 2001, Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) creates a vibrant innovation and technology ecosystem through driving innovation in the following critical sectors: Electronics, information communications, green technology, biomedical technology, materials and precision engineering.

InvestHK – as mentioned throughout our feature series – deserves recognition for putting Hong Kong on the map of foreign entrepreneurs and angel investors by promoting and hosting events such as the StartmeupHK Festival.

Private entities are equally vital partners in pushing Hong Kong’s startup scene. China tech giant Alibaba recently announced a second round of funding for three local startups: GRANA, NOSH, and DayDayCook. Made via the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund – established in November 2015 with a HK$1 billion war chest – the fund previously acquired stakes in GoGoVan, Shopline, and YEECHOO. Cindy Chow, executive director of the Fund, commented: “We are excited to see that Hong Kong has become an increasingly attractive city for global talents to start their businesses. That’s why we see entrepreneurs, like the founders from Grana and NOSH, choose Hong Kong as the hub to launch their businesses and realize their startup dreams.”

Insurance titan AIA got into the act two years ago with its AIA Accelerator initiative. Partnering with KPMG’s Digital Village, the highly selective programme – only six startups are shortlisted each round – offers mentorship from industry experts, specialists in wearable healthcare, technology & go-to-market and from venture capitalists on fund raising and growth strategies.

Fintech is receiving plenty of attention, and it’s no surprise there are incubation programmes that focus specifically on this hot field. Accenture’s FinTech Innovation Lab is perhaps one of the best known: a 12-week long mentoring programme, it grants early-stage ventures a platform to develop and market their ideas with the world’s top banks, including Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, and Morgan Stanley. Accenture’s Financial Services senior managing director Jon Allaway said, “Most financial institutions are grappling with how to become more efficient, cut costs, comply with regulators and simultaneously increase their interaction with customers. We are seeing how fintech startups in our Lab program can help institutions deliver better services to their customers.”[1]