Pioneering sustainability across all sectors and propelling global startups towards a future of boundless possibilities
HKSAR Government is dedicated to supporting startups and fostering a thriving startup ecosystem in Hong Kong
The Festival was honored by the attendance of senior government officials who emphasised the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government’s dedication to creating a dynamic ecosystem through proactive initiatives and established funding schemes.
At the opening ceremony of Game On! 2023, Michael Wong, Acting Financial Secretary of the HKSAR, expressed his delight in Hong Kong’s fast-growing startup community. He said, “According to InvestHK’s 2022 startup survey, we have around 4,000 startups employing 15,000 people, which is a new record high. We know that these numbers are continuously growing in 2023, demonstrating that Hong Kong has all the necessary elements to nurture and support startups.”
Professor Sun Dong, Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry of the HKSAR Government, further emphasised the Government’s commitment to maintaining Hong Kong’s long-term competitiveness in attracting global talent and supporting startups at the Startup World Cup (SWC) Asia Finale 2023. He stated, “Hong Kong has long been recognised as a world-class international financial centre, and we are striving to become an international innovation and technology hub, making our city an ideal destination for startups to thrive.”
Alpha Lau, Director-General of Investment Promotion at InvestHK, echoed this sentiment at the Real Estate Beyond 2023. She stated, “Despite the ongoing challenges posed by macroeconomic uncertainties, Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem has shown remarkable resilience and growth. Furthermore, the HKSAR Government has proactively implemented a series of strategies and policies, with an aim to attract large companies, startups, international talent, and capital to Hong Kong.”
Sustainability emerged as a prominent theme across all sectors
While the StartmeupHK Festival covered a diverse range of topics, including web3, healthtech, proptech, greentech, and AI, sustainability emerged as a prominent theme across all sectors.
During his keynote speech at the St. Gallen Symposium Hong Kong – GBA Forum 2023, Bernard Chan, Chairman of Our Hong Kong Foundation, emphasised the importance of companies incorporating sustainable business practices into their business models and expressed Hong Kong’s openness to collaboration within the region to achieve this common goal. In a panel discussion at the same event, Professor Christine Loh, Chief Development Strategist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, pointed out the importance of understanding how family offices identify potential investments in driving capital towards sustainable businesses.
At a panel discussion during the 1.5°C Summit – The Defining Decade for Impact with Tech, speakers unanimously agreed that sustainability is not just an option but a necessity. Alexander Bent, Co-Founder/ Managing Partner of Undivided Ventures, stated that organisations must invest in socially responsible companies and address these problems to sustain themselves in the next decade.
During the Real Estate Beyond 2023 event, Arthur Lam, Founder of Negawatt, highlighted the importance of monitoring ESG impact progress and shifting focus towards sustainability for business success. On the same occasion, Andrew Young, Associate Director (Innovation) at Sino Group, noted that property developers in Hong Kong are under pressure to meet decarbonisation goals and are open to collaborating with proptech startups.
AI and web3: the next big things
During a panel discussion at the Asia Health Innovation Summit, Dr Frank Pun, Head of the Hong Kong Office at Insilico Medicine, highlighted the potential of generative AI in generating experimental data to aid patients, particularly in cases where the disease is unknown or new.
Jirayut (Topp) Srupsrisopa, Founder and Group CEO at Bitkub Capital Group Holdings, shed light at Game On! 2023 that web3 will be a major force in the future of Hong Kong, and the digital economy will be enormous. On the same occasion, Yat Siu, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Animoca Brands, expressed that Hong Kong has made significant progress in nurturing innovation and technology in the past years and he saw that the city has the potential to take on a leadership role as a global web3 hub.
Joe Tsai, Chairman of Alibaba Group, also shared his insights on the future of work and leadership in the era of AI and new technology at JUMPSTARTER 2023 Tech by The Harbour. He stated, “We have entered the ‘post-GPT’ era, where computers process knowledge, not just data. However, I believe that humans will excel in emotional areas. As business leaders, it is important to hire smart individuals to avoid limiting a company’s potential.”
Insightful discussions generated from the community events
In addition to the main events, the Festival also hosted various community events that sparked insightful discussions. At the LOUDER Connect, Jayne Chan, Head of StartmeupHK at InvestHK, spoke on the need to support female founders and investors, but highlighted Hong Kong’s strong position for its number of female-founders. Other female startup leaders echoed that Hong Kong boasts an abundance of talent, resources, and investors from both the public and private sectors, which enable the independent nurturing and growth of female-led startups.
At another event, Shaping Legacies: Impact Investing Unveiled for Family Offices, a representative from a family office highlighted one of Hong Kong’s greatest advantages: there is no expiration date for establishing family trusts in Hong Kong. The panelists also discussed the trend of impact investing, where family offices are increasingly focused on recycling their capital with a positive impact on society.
Pitching competitions offered platform for startups to showcase innovative solutions to potential investors
A number of scalable pitching competitions were held throughout the Festival, offering startups the opportunity to showcase their ideas and connect with like-minded individuals and potential investors. Notably, the “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition held at “Shark Mystique” during the Explore the Innovation Ocean, empowered the younger generation to showcase their innovative ideas.
Other highlights included the Startup World Cup Asia Finale, where i2cool, a green and energy-efficient service provider with passive radiative cooling technology from Hong Kong, emerged as the champion. Moreover, Allegrow Biotech, a Hong Kong-based biotechnology startup was crowned grand finale winner of JUMPSTARTER 2023 for its mission to revolutionise the healthcare landscape by bringing high-quality and cost-effective cell therapeutic products to patients.
Abundant networking offered invaluable opportunities for startups, entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators to connect
This year’s Festival went beyond traditional networking events in connecting startups and investors. Some highlights included an investor-matching on the Ferris Wheel at Explore the Innovation Ocean, as well as the “StartMeetUp” session at the JUMPSTARTER 2023 Tech by The Harbour, which offered exclusive and prearranged business matching sessions.
The StartmeupHK Festival 2023 concluded on 17 November, leaving a lasting impact on the global startup community. This sustained momentum is expected to foster a healthy startup ecosystem in the city where groundbreaking ideas can flourish, ensuring that the spirit of entrepreneurship remains vibrant.
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About Invest Hong Kong
Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) is the department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) responsible for attracting foreign direct investment and supporting overseas and mainland businesses to set up and expand in Hong Kong. It offers free advice and services to support companies from the planning stage right through to the launch and expansion of their business. For more information, please visit www.investhk.gov.hk.
StartmeupHK is an initiative by InvestHK aimed at helping founders of innovative and scalable startups from overseas to set up or expand in Hong Kong. Our services include providing information about the startup ecosystem here in Hong Kong, connecting people to the startup community, hosting startup events and helping to foster a positive environment for startups to thrive. Find out more at www.startmeup.hk, our one-stop portal to Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem. For enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].