20 May 2019 – The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) ran three initiatives in May as part of its annual event, “International Start-up Week”, with the aim of cultivating a vibrant start-up ecosystem in Hong Kong. The HKTDC initiatives included the launch of the HK Startup Society’s online platform and its offline start-up community; the start-up development programme Start-up Express; and a series of exhibitions, symposiums and seminars under the Entrepreneur Day banner.

New community platform to help start-ups build networks The HK Startup Society’s launch event, hosted by HKTDC Executive Director Margaret Fong last week at the R One Space co-working facility in Causeway Bay, kickstarted the HKTDC’s first start-up platform. Several local and international start-up entrepreneurs, including Alvin Lam, Founder of T12M Ventures Limited, Raymond Wyand, Co-founder and CEO of Gini, and Sergio Pachón, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Kiwi Campus Inc, joined the event.

The HK Startup Society is an online platform giving local start-ups access to exclusively curated content provided by elite start-up entrepreneurs, including the most up-to-date market information on angel funds, incubation programmes and start-up events. The platform also hosts “peer-to-expert” and “peer-to-peer” forums that provide quick access to quality feedback and advice. The platform is now open for registration, free of charge.

To further promote the local start-up ecosystem, the HK Startup Society will organise offline meet-ups and networking events, enabling start-ups to connect with investors, potential partners and international outlets. “Hong Kong is an attractive market in terms of its business advantages and robust start-up ecosystem. The HK Startup Society offers the right knowledge and opportunities to build networks, which is crucial as start-ups get off the ground,” said Sergio Pachón, whose company developed a campus robot delivery service company in the United States.

Record 18,600-plus visitors attend Entrepreneur Day The 11th HKTDC Entrepreneur Day (E-Day), held on 16 and 17 May, saw visitor numbers increasing by 2% compared to last year, reaching a record of more than 18,600 visitors. Under the theme “The Start-up Living Lab”, the 2019 E-Day brought together more than 280 exhibitors, showcasing innovative products, technologies and a variety of entrepreneur support services. This year’s exhibition also encouraged start-ups and prospective entrepreneurs to create solutions for challenges in four different areas of everyday life − clothing, food, housing and transportation − through innovation, research and development, and product creation.

Various special events were held in parallel with the exhibition. They included seminars held at the Start-up Runway, which saw renowned speakers sharing insights into technology trends and business opportunities, and the GBA Compass seminar that focused on the development of start-ups in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The event’s first collaboration with Young Founders School, the E-Living Hackathon, allowed prospective entrepreneurs to design solutions to address daily annoyances, while the Fund & Mentor Business Matching Session engaged entrepreneurs and investors in one-on-one pairings.

10 Start-Up Express winners enjoy access to top-quality events The second Start-up Express Pitching Final, held during Entrepreneur Day, yielded 10 winners: Affluent Growth & Innovation Technology Limited, ARTRO Digital Limited, Contact Beverage Limited, CYC Motor Limited, Doki Technologies Limited, Incus Company Limited, MedEXO Robotics (Hong Kong) Company Limited, Miscato Limited, Quikec International Limited, and RaSpect Intelligence Inspection Limited. The winning start-ups covered four fields, namely biotech, artificial intelligence (AI), smart city and fintech.

The 10 finalists of Start-up Express 2019 were selected by a panel of judges led by Duncan Chiu, Co-founder and Managing Director of Radiant Venture Capital. Joining Mr Chiu on the panel were Calvin Choi, Chairman and CEO of AMTD Group; Prof Guanhua Chen, Co-founder of Hong Kong X-Tech Startup Platform; Jason Chiu, CEO of Cherrypicks; Jimmy Tao Managing Director and CEO of Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited. Stephen Liang, HKTDC Assistant Executive Director, and Louisa Lui, Assistant Executive Director of Our Hong Kong Foundation, joined the award presentation ceremony.

Our Hong Kong Foundation and AMTD Group and are the official partner and strategic partner of Start-up Express, respectively. “Start-up Express nurtures a new generation of start-ups. Through continuous collaboration, we look to foster local talents and promote innovative and sustainable development in Hong Kong,” said Our Hong Kong Foundation’s Louisa Lui. AMTD Group’s Calvin Choi added: “We witnessed high-quality applicants this year, many of their applications making use of advanced technology such as artificial intelligence, big data, environmental technology, financial technology, Internet of Things, medical technology and tourism technology. Through Start-up Express, AMTD Group will support the growth journey of the 10 start-ups and help Hong Kong develop into a smart city through our international capital market experience and extensive network.”

Koofy Development Limited, one of the 10 winning start-ups from the Pitching Final in 2018, received angel funding from one of the programme’s panel judges. The company also connected with business partners and tapped into new markets, including Europe and Japan, through the marketing activities, numerous exhibitions and business events arranged by the HKTDC.

“Through Start-up Express, we got the opportunity to join high-impact exhibitions with relatively high entry requirements, such as MWC [Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona], which is something very precious for a start-up like us. Having gained recognition in the market through our affiliation with the HKTDC, our new business partners have greater confidence in us. This is particularly important for uninitiated start-ups,” said Ondy Ma, Co-founder and CEO of Koofy.

The 10 winning start-ups are entitled to join local and international activities and events including exhibitions organised by the HKTDC in Hong Kong that have a dedicated start-up zone, such as the Asian Financial Forum, Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring & Autumn Editions) and the Hong Kong International Medical and Healthcare Fair. They can also join HKTDC overseas flagship events including the “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” mega event that will take place in Los Angeles in the United States later in 2019. Furthermore, the winners will have the opportunity to join the Hong Kong Pavilion at international exhibitions such as MWC and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, USA, to gain first-hand experience and expand their business network.