China’s Alibaba mulling 10 ‘creative’ start-ups in Hong Kong for HK$1 billion investment fund

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2016, 3:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2016, 3:26pm

E-commerce giant Alibaba has shortlisted more than 10 Hong Kong start-ups to receive investment from its HK$1 billion fund for entrepreneurs in the city.

Cindy Chow, executive director of the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, said today that the company is in talks with young entrepreneurs who have applied for the programme, which was formally launched in November.

“We have actually shortlisted a couple of proposals and we are doing our due diligence and further contact with the entrepreneurs,” Chow said.

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“I will expect in about one to two months’ time we will give more updates to the public.”

The Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund was first flagged by Alibaba chairman Jack Ma last February as a means for local young people to access capital and build their businesses on the Chinese mainland through the internet giant’s platforms.

Shanghai-based venture capital firm Gobi Partners was announced as the fund’s first investment manager in November.

Alibaba also announced a Taiwan Entrepreneurs Fund in November with NT$10 billion (HK$2.3 billion) earmarked for the island’s entrepreneurs.

Chow said the Hong Kong fund is looking to invest in companies from a broad range of industries, although most applicants are technology start-ups.

“We are very open to ideas. We are looking for creative ideas that can bring value to consumers and our lives,” Chow said at a venture capital forum in the city organised by InvestHK.

To qualify for the fund, a team’s founders must be made up of a majority Hong Kong permanent residents or carry out “meaningful operations” in the city.

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However, Chow said the fund was happy to speak to companies from overseas who plan to set up their businesses in Hong Kong.

Entrepreneurs who wish to apply must use at least one of Alibaba’s platforms, which range from e-commerce sites Taobao, which facilitates consumer-to-consumer retail, to business-to-consumer marketplace Tmall and its cloud computing platform.

Chow said she welcomed the government’s recent announcement of an HK$2 billion matching fund to invest in the city’s start-ups alongside professional venture capital firms as the private and public sector can work together to help local self-starters.