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HKSTP’s Incubation Programme Graduates Reflect HK’s I&T Ecosystem

Image Credits: HKSTP, Press Release

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) recently hosted the annual graduation ceremony to celebrate the achievements of a record-breaking number of 165 start-ups from HKSTP’s pre-incubation and incubation programmes.

This year’s cohort sees a record 50% of graduates from the incubation programmes converted into HKSTP’s partner companies, further strengthening the vibrant innovation and technology (I&T) community at Science Park. This year’s all-time-high numbers, particularly during a pandemic, reflects the strength and growth of Hong Kong’s I&T ecosystem.

To maximise the innovation potential and ultimately commercial success for start-ups, HKSTP will increase support for start-ups at each stage of the journey of innovation and entrepreneurship. Resources will be invested in the following key areas: the first stage of “Ideation” to test and validate concepts; the second stage of “Commercialisation” to advance productisation and go-to-market opportunities, and finally the “Growth” stage to drive regional and international expansion.

The CEO of HKSTP said: “In this remarkable year, our graduates have displayed huge entrepreneurial spirit as they pursue innovation during the most disruptive of times. This milestone moment is just the beginning of a new chapter in their start-up journey. HKSTP is dedicated to creating the best possible support for these world-changers in their mission to innovate and transform lives and business in Hong Kong and beyond.”

In the pursuit of innovation, the 2021 cohort of incubation graduates is a showcase of international diversity, with ventures from Hong Kong, China, UK, the US, India, France, Australia and Austria, all revealing innovative solutions to tackle pandemic and other societal and business issues.

Riding on a global wave of game-changing technologies including AI & Robotics, Biomedical Technology, Data and Smart City and FinTech, the graduates have risen to the challenge at a time when the world needs innovators and problem solvers.

This year’s graduates mean over 850 start-ups and companies have now graduated from HKSTP’s incubation programmes, which further expands the HKSTP Startup Alumni Association (SAA).

It provides an ideal source of insight and mentorship for rising start-ups while serving as the perfect channel to create a lasting legacy and pass on invaluable experience and guidance to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Growing demand for tech talent

OpenGov reported earlier that, in March 2021, experts are warning of a looming labour shortage in Hong Kong, especially in the information technology sector, as local talent moves away and fewer foreign specialists arrive. Employers say they are competing for the same small pool, and facing shortages in cutting-edge IT areas of data science, cloud and information security.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought international travel to a standstill, closed borders and resulted in Hong Kong imposing travel bans. A 21-day compulsory hotel quarantine has further affected the arrival of new international talent.

Figures from the Immigration Department for work visas show only 14,617 approvals in 2020, sharply down from 41,289 in 2019. The IT sector saw only 652 new visas, compared to 1,655 in 2019. Work visa extensions dipped from 22,159 in 2019 to 19,323 last year, an indication of foreigners who left the city. Talent from mainland China also recorded a sharp decline.

At the same time, Hongkongers with skills in demand are being lured to other tech hubs, with countries such as Britain and Canada loosening their immigration policies for city residents following Beijing’s imposition of national security law in June 2020.

Thus, the programmes of various educational institutions and governmental agencies in Hong Kong are crucial if the region is to achieve its goal of being a global tech hub.

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