Hong Kong has long been known as one of the most desirable places to set up and scale a business, and this fact has been cemented by the massive turnout at the recent StatmeupHK Festival. Despite being done virtually, almost 200,000 attendees and over 150 exhibitors participated and tuned into 471 speakers from 97 countries. The startup showcase spanned five days featuring keynotes from industry figures, exhibitions, and job fairs, and across the sectors and activities, there appeared to be two underlying themes — that innovation and problem solving are the main driving forces behind successful startups.
A 2019 Startup Survey by Invest HK revealed that Hong Kong’s startup scene continues to thrive, boasting an impressive growth of 42.8% from 3,184 startups in 2017. These new ventures spanned different business sectors, including e-commerce, supply chain management and logistics, and information, computer, and technology. The growth isn’t surprising, given how Hong Kong has a stable financial system and good startup infrastructure, but as with many countries, there are fears of the pandemic stifling the momentum.
But businesses looking to set up shop in the country need not worry, as there are a slew of programs that continue to offer support for startups seeking new opportunities, further highlighting Hong Kong’s resilience as a regional hub for innovation.
Startups will also be glad to know that there is plenty of support for businesses that want to take full advantage of the internet and social media. Digital marketing firm Ayima recently launched its Kickstart program in Hong Kong, an initiative specifically designed for startups to help them learn everything they need to build a good online brand, from search engine optimization to content and link development. Similarly, there are also a ton of accelerator and incubator programs available for startups to scale their businesses. The Lane Crawford Joyce Group’s The Cage offers a 12-week ignition and development program for startups developing technologies relating to fashion and lifestyle retail, including IoT, personalization, image recognition, and blockchain, while SoInSoGood offers a 6-month social-tech incubation program for early-stage social-tech and green-tech startups.
While the world’s current upheaval can understandably cause aspiring business owners and startup founders to feel discouraged, Paul Chan, Financial Secretary, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, reminded everyone about Hong Kong’s prevailing resilience while recovering from the repercussions of the pandemic. He said that even though the country is facing many challenges — perhaps including the US-China trade war, street protests, and technical recession — Hong Kong is faring well given the tough situation it has found itself in, to the point that it once again superseded the world just last year in funds raised through initial public offerings.
“I have no doubt that we’ll be in the running again this year, despite the turbulence out there. After all, Hong Kong has become a much sought-after place for secondary listing of Chinese companies,” he said on the last day of the festival. “Just ask video game developer NetEase and e-commerce retailer JD.com, both of which listed in Hong Kong last month, following in the welcome wake of tech giant Alibaba’s secondary listing here last November.”
For more news about the up-and-coming and thriving businesses in Asia, check out Asia Biz Today’s Trailblazers section.