Hong Kong innovators

Swire's Blueprint welcomes retail, consumer finance start-ups as Hong Kong incubator enters third year

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 July, 2015, 3:27pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 July, 2015, 3:50pm

An accelerator in Hong Kong is gambling on start-ups that offer a new take on retail, recruitment and consumer finance that it believes can tap lucrative niches like pop-up stores and changing purchasing patterns.

Swire Properties’ Blueprint recently announced the names of the second batch of 10 companies to join its business-to-business start-up accelerator, which is now in its third year. 

They will enjoy mentorship, free workspace and valuable connections, the company said.

"Their product knowledge, agility and readiness are inspiring,” said Don Taylor, a director at Swire Properties. 

“We’ve selected a fine group of start-up companies which will grow in business acumen and competitiveness under blueprint’s mentorship.”

READ MORE: Hong Kong start-ups should look to China, not Silicon Valley

Among those selected is Talkpush, which helps shortlist job candidates through simulated telephone interviews. Another name on the list is Fundity, which claims to be reinventing consumer finance. PopScout plans to help people book retail spaces for pop-up shops.

As a business-to-business accelerator, Blueprint’s start-ups focus on improving the way companies operate, as distinct from trendy consumer-friendly apps that rack up high download figures. 

The first group of 11 Blueprint incubatees, which started the programme in January, proved their value by winning a series of international prizes.

"Our teams have received international recognition, including BrandPit's Best ICT Startup Gold Award win and Easyship, which competed regionally to take top honours at Singapore’s recent Startup Arena contest at Tech in Asia 2015,” said Hilary Szymujko, a senior executive at Blueprint.

Blueprint does not request equity in return for its services. It helps the start-ups make connections to raise capital and test the market, it said.

The Swire accelerator is one of a growing number of similar initiatives in Hong Kong designed to support early stage start-ups.

Management consulting giant Accenture this week announced the latest group of financial technology start-ups for its 12-week FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific. 

Property developer Swire is the biggest landlord in Hong Kong's Quarry Bay. It spent HK$20 million (US$2.58 million) to redevelop unused office space on two floors in a building there to house Blueprint.

The second round of start-ups moved into the quirky co-working space early this month. They have already received training from London-based pre-seed investor Seedcamp.