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Innovation is everywhere - Hong Kong Innovation Ecosystem and Startup Scene


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Hong Kong is dubbed "Asia's world city", and would also love to be the tech capital of the most dynamic and populous region of the world, halfway between the North Asia giant (China, South Korea, Japan) and the fast-growing South-East Asia (Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam...).

With 8m inhabitants, a British past and a recent come-back into China, can Hong Kong be the hub it is already financially? To be true, there's a world between Hong Kong and China, and it makes of the city-island-state-special administrative area quite an isolated dot.

Of course, the manufacture and financial history and expertise of the city can be seen quite vividly in its startup scene, where "fintech" is quite advanced.

In this review, you will see how Hong Kong has turned into an innovation hub mostly thanks to a small community of determined entrepreneurs, its best practices as an ecosystem, and its strengths and weaknesses as well.

Read more about us as we roam the world to explore the emerging markets startups scenes, from Iran to Chile, from China to Nigeria.

Reach us at: martin@innovationiseverywhere

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Innovation is everywhere - Hong Kong Innovation Ecosystem and Startup Scene

  1. 1. Hong Kong innovation ecosystem Following Protei Sailing hackathon February 2014
  2. 2. Innovation has no place in a global world, it’s everywhere Innovation ecosystems can learn from one another Local context matters and should be a source for innovators This is why… We’re on a world tour of innovation ecosystems! We believe…
  3. 3. History & context of innovation in Hong Kong Turning manufacturers into entrepreneurs
  4. 4. A brief history of Hong Kong innovation ecosystem • 1997: After 155 years, Great-Britain retrocedes Hong Kong to China, which keeps it as a “Special Administrative Region” • 2001: the dotcom burst washes away the startup scene for the next 6-7 years, the city is still entrepreneurial, but not innovative as such
  5. 5. A brief history of Hong Kong innovation ecosystem • 2009: HK’s first coworking space, Boot HK, is setup, after several events like Startup Saturday gathered an embryo of a community • 2011: Weekly events at Boot HK keeps the community growing, and new coworking spaces (The Hive, Cocoon) open, as well as the first Hackerspace (Dim Sum Lab), more focused on hardware
  6. 6. A brief history of Hong Kong innovation ecosystem • 2011-2012: The first startups re-emerge from this community-driven environment, with Makibox (crowdfunding & hardware), 8securities (Fintech) which raised 8M$ • 2013-2014: The government kicks in, open incubators (Science Park, Cyberport) • 2014: The historical players of the ecosystem launch StartupHK, to sustain and manages to attract attention from InvestHK, a gov agency who supports SMEs and int’l expansion
  7. 7. Manufacturers, bankers turn entrepreneurs • Li Ka Shing, Asia’s richest man (retail, property development) is an early investor in Facebook, Spotify, Summly, Siri, and Bitcoin-related apps • Jonathan Buford comes from the manufacturing world, now runs Makibox, onf of HK’s top startups • Other popular founders come from the finance industry and startupify it
  8. 8. Online & tech landscape of Hong-Kong Forums Social media Blogging E-commerce Finance Gaming Apps
  9. 9. Startups to watch for (top: funded; bottom: promising) Source: Casey Lau
  10. 10. A top connected country in Asia… Source: We are Social
  11. 11. ... And an entrepreneurial mindset.. Asia 27% Source: Seedstars World
  12. 12. To be found everywhere in the city! Asia 27% Source: Casey Lau
  13. 13. 2020: the Pearl River Delta Megalopolis Asia 27% • Hong Kong already rebuilding Kowloon & “New Territories” • 2020: Pearl River Delta Megalopolis with 50M+ population
  14. 14. Honk Kong innovation ecosystem today Pros & Cons, Top Connectors & local best practices
  15. 15. Pros and cons of Hong Kong innovation ecosystem • High expertise in finance and bored bankers make good new startupers in fintech + access to bankers capital for insiders • Cheap manufacturing prices both in HK and nearby China • Easiness of starting a business and getting a visa, with no obligation to have HK residents in capital or employees • Community-driven ecosystem with true dedication and hunger for success • Entrepreneurial mindset • Uncensored Internet, not so common in Asia, and not the case in China • Small market of 8M inhabitants, not really connected to China (culturally, economically) • No culture of risk from banks, which will not support startups until 2 years of revenue can be shown • Lack of talent in specific areas, in particular design and UX/UI • English is an official language but not always understood everywhere • Not quite a gateway to China which has strong rules on startup (capital requirement, licences…) • 0.73% only of GDP dedicated to R&D • Real estate prices 30% > New York PROS CONS
  16. 16. Top connectors in Hong Kong WilliamLiang (Profile), Adjunct Professor atUHK and co-founder of Boot HK, HK’s first coworking spae. Now heading Dim Sum Lab, HK’s first hackerspace Casey Lau (About), co-founder of BootHK, catalyst at IBM for Asia-Pacific and founder of StartupHK, the new-born community movement of the startup scene Jonathan Buford (Twitter), co-founder of BootHK and now founder/CEO of Makibox, a startup creating new ways of manufacturing items Cédric Delzenne (Twitter), ex-founder of Shop Des Créateurs (marketplace for designers), now heading the HK chapter of the Founders Institute
  17. 17. Top connectors in Hong Kong César Harada (Website), founder of Protei, which makes a DIY boat with sensors to monitor environment data, ex-MIT, TED fellow Mikaal Abdulla (AngelList), founder and CEO of 8securities, one of the top fintech startups in HK, previously worked for E*TRADE Tony Vet (FB), Community Curator at The Good Lab 好單位 and Co-Founder at TEDtoChina Gregory So (Profile) Honk Kong Secretary of Commerce and key player of Start Me Up, the tech focused program of Invest HK
  18. 18. Best practices of HK innovation ecosystem • A quarterly “Introduction to the HK startup ecosystem” talk, by Casey Lau, founder of StartupHK, to get in touch with newcomers and update the available resources for the community
  19. 19. Best practices of HK innovation ecosystem • StartupHK, a coffee shop and new umbrella name for the local scene (5000 members), which runs StartbaseHK, a crowdsourced directory plugged to Crunchbase in the US (300 companies registered)
  20. 20. Best practices of HK innovation ecosystem • A reality show on startups on TVB, the biggest local channel, in Cantonese, to educate local youth on entrepreneurship (“I am boss”)
  21. 21. What’s next for Hong Kong? “Coopete” with neighboring Shenzhen: take advantage of low costs of China with skills and financing of HK Help Asian entrepreneurs bootstrap and relocate in HK, which has huge benefits compared to other Asian countries (easier visa than Singapore, easier setup of business than surrounding countries, better and freer internet than in China, etc) Open HKTech “embassies” in like-minded places (Dubai, Singapore, London…) with learning tours to help local startups scale in similar markets
  22. 22. Eager to learn about the other innovation ecosystems?
  23. 23. Documenting innovation through key events Hot posts, interviews, live-tweet, Google Hangouts Identifying key connectors on & offline Discovering alternative and emerging innovation ecosystems Beyond the Silicon Valley, local innovation hotbeds Tech, Social impact, Education, Life Sciences… Increasing mobility of innovators and ecosystem enablers Connecting doers and thinkers through monthly Hangouts Offering innovation ecosystem enablers to learn and exchange from peers About our project A world tour of innovation ecosystems
  24. 24. Martin Pasquier Entrepreneur in Singapore (social media agency), long- time traveller Mixes economics, politics and travels to analyze ecosystems, reports on innovation About our team Analysis, community & network Anne Lalou CEO of Innovation Factory & Web School Factory in Paris Transfer knowledge of ecosystems to new generation and to a network of top French companies Nicolas Loubet Serial entrepreneur in Paris with 3 companies, growth hacker Manages and nurtures creative communities on & offline
  25. 25. A world tour of innovation: 2013-2014 SUPPORT US! Travel & time of exploration isn’t free  Custom reports on emerging markets & trends Workshops, talks on innovation trends Connection to key local players for VCs, brands, tech communities
  26. 26. • Hong Kong Internet & Social Media Landscape (Slideshare) • Hong Kong, Startup Eldorado in a Financial Hub (Infographics) • Is Hong Kong China’s Number One Tech Hub? (Article) • Startme Up HK, the government’s initiative (Website) • Startup HK, the community’s initiative (Website) • StartBase HK, a directory of startups & people (Website) • There’s life after banking in Hong Kong, and it often involves taking banks’ business (Article) More on Honk Kong startup & innovation scenes Resources
  27. 27. Thanks! Martin Pasquier, for Innovation is Everywhere