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HK start-ups nurtured to help region become a tech hub

Image Credits: HKU, Press Release

The over 20 start-up founders and practitioners, together with alumni from a wide range of industries and business backgrounds, assembled in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum on 10 October 2020, to discuss a heated topic for start-ups – venture capital financing and to respond to the HKU Business School’s call for establishing a start-up ecosystem.

Amidst the backdrop of the challenging local, regional and global economy, start-up founders are facing more difficulties to stand out from the crowd, meet the investors’ expectations and achieve success in venture capital financing. HKU Business School stepped up its efforts in nurturing a vibrant start-up ecosystem and launched the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum, aiming to share the best practice on how entrepreneurs and reputable investors worked together to turn an innovative idea into good business.

The Presidents of Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association were invited to give out hints to the up-and-coming start-ups that may become the next unicorns.

The experts advised the founders to make sure they have stable, trustworthy teammates who would be able to share all the ups and downs and go through the cycle of growth and development. This could also benefit the firms’ fund-raising process as the investors will consider everything about their products, the team and the track-record of their companies. He cautioned the teams to not be afraid of failure, but to learn from it and keep their passion.

It was further illustrated that people-centred management becomes a very critical element when the aim is to want to become an effective entrepreneur. He advised the founders to continue evolving their business models over time, uphold the core of their businesses and leverage technology as an ancillary tool.

One of the event participants was inspired by the sharing from both of the speakers and found the Forum useful to transform her innovative idea into reality.  She noted that the speakers highlighted some potential concerns from large corporates when they consider investing in a business, which start-up founders may not be aware of before. For instance, how would the corporates evaluate the technology and the team structure of the start-ups?

The Dean of HKU Business School also encouraged all stakeholders in the ecosystem to work together during a time of stark economic challenge faced by Hong Kong recently. He stated that a comprehensive ecosystem is necessary for further assisting Hong Kong to transform to a heart of global innovation, technology and entrepreneurship hub. As part of the ecosystem, HKU Business School aims to continue to contribute to the local economy by nurturing innovative minds, promoting entrepreneurship spirits, building research facilities and reaching out to the society, China as well as the international community.

Propelling local start-ups

Hong Kong’s support of its start-ups is nothing new. HKU, in particular, has been a champion of homegrown innovation for a long time. For example, OpenGov Asia recently reported that, despite the pandemic, the University of Hong Kong (HKU), on 14 September 2020, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) to jointly cultivate future FinTech talents.

Under the agreement, HKU’s Department of Computer Science from the Engineering Faculty and ASTRI will together develop the Technology Oriented Practitioner (TOP) programme, a Work-Study Scheme for first-year students enrolled on the MSc programme in FinTech and Data Analytics at HKU, with ASTRI providing paid full-time employment for up to 30 students for a nine-month period and assigning them to one of ASTRI’s many ongoing FinTech projects, such as a smart credit assessment that helps SMEs secure loans or an AI-driven data analytics platform that empowers more effective risk management, keeping our society safer and smarter.

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