HKTDC’s Start-up Fiesta kick-starts today

HONG KONG, May 5, 2021 – (ACN Newswire via – The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) today announced the launch of the inaugural Hong Kong Start-up Fiesta campaign that will run in May and June. Comprising a full range of activities organised by the HKTDC and other organisations, the aim of the campaign is to support and foster the local start-up eco-system and help innovative new companies capture business opportunities amid the challenges of the pandemic.

Speaking at today’s ceremony to mark the launch of the Hong Kong Start-up Fiesta campaign, HKTDC Assistant Executive Director Stephen Liang said the HKTDC will work with different organisations to co-create a series of start-up-focused activities in May and June.

Stephen Liang, Assistant Executive Director, HKTDC (front row, second from right), Jason Chiu, Chairman, Hong Kong Start-up Council (front row, from right) and Mark Lo, CEO, AMTD (front row, from left) took a group photo with the 10 selected scale-ups for the Start-up Express Master League, including Contact Beverage, CYC Motor, Film Players, Gense Technologies, Incus, Koofy Development Limited, MAD Gaze, Return Helper, MedEXO Robotics and Miscato.

MAD Gaze employs mixed reality (MR), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to produce the next generation of smart eyewear.

The number of start-ups in Hong Kong has more than doubled over the past six years, surging from 1,558 in 2015 to 3,360 in 2020. In order to empower local start-ups, the HKTDC will work with different organisations for Start-up Fiesta, including Cyberport, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, InvestHK, universities and the start-up community, to co-create about 20 different start-up-focused activities. Anchored by the Start-up Express Master League and annual Start-up Express Pitching Final, the campaign also features a series of booster workshops, mentorship programmes and networking events.

Speaking at today’s opening ceremony, HKTDC Assistant Executive Director Stephen Liang said the HKTDC would continue its commitment to supporting entrepreneurs in expanding their businesses, in addition to promoting the city’s capabilities in innovation and technology. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on the global economy, which means start-ups need our help more than ever. Giving start-ups the chance to use their creativity to explore business opportunities will help them continue to grow during this challenging time. The debut Start-up Fiesta campaign enlists the support of different organisations in the ecosystem, co-creating an array of activities to promote local entrepreneurship.”

Start-up Express Master League promotes local scale-ups

The Start-up Fiesta kicked off with the Start-up Express Master League, which aims to encourage and support local entrepreneurs, selecting programme alumni that have demonstrated the most vigorous business growth since joining the cohort. The selected scale-ups will be granted an extra year of marketing support from the programme to help them build their brands.

The 10 scale-ups joining the Start-up Express Master League were selected based on their business resilience, growth and expansion strategy. They include Contact Beverage, CYC Motor, Film Players, Gense Technologies, Incus, Koofy Development Limited, MAD Gaze, Return Helper, MedEXO Robotics and Miscato.

At today’s opening ceremony, the companies shared their experiences in overcoming obstacles and working to achieve breakthroughs during the pandemic. Among them, Contact Beverage has combined technology with traditional wisdom to produce the Lify smart beverage device. Using the Internet of Things, big data and smart mobile technologies, Lify aims to provide natural remedies and beverages in the simplest and most effective way. The company is also looking to launch its innovation in overseas markets with the help of networking and promotional activities organised by the HKTDC.

Another start-up, Incus, has developed disruptive source separation technology that can separate different human voices in complex environments with real-time processing. MAD Gaze is smart glasses company employing mixed reality (MR), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies to create the next generation of eyewear. The company recently launched its latest smart glasses model, which allows users to experience the benefits of AR, and has successfully expanded its global footprint with the HKTDC’s support.

The winning scale-ups in the Start-up Express Master League will be able to join a range of local and international activities and events, exploring networking opportunities with potential investors, buyers and business partners. They can also participate in exhibitions and conferences organised by the HKTDC in Hong Kong that have a dedicated start-up zone, such as the Asian Financial Forum, the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring & Autumn Editions) and the Hong Kong International Medical and Healthcare Fair. Moreover, they will also have the opportunity to join the Hong Kong Pavilion at international exhibitions such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in the United States and the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona, Spain, to broaden their connections and experience.

Fourth Start-up Express helps start-ups to grow

Start-up Express, a start-up development programme launched by the HKTDC, is returning for its fourth edition to assist local start-ups in building connections, exploring markets, seeking partners and developing brand awareness. Applications are invited until 12 May and the programme will culminate in the Pitching Final on 29 June, with the winners given the opportunity to join local and overseas trade promotions and activities organised by the HKTDC, as well as exhibit at international start-up events to expand their business networks.

“Start-up Express has been giving tremendous support to local start-ups over the past three years, helping them explore global markets, seal major orders and win international awards, assisting them in growing their businesses to the next level. With the global economy severely impacted by the pandemic, it is harder than ever for start-ups to find funding and business partners, making it all the more important to assist them in promoting their innovative technologies to corporations,” Mr Liang said.

The shortlisted start-ups in last year’s Start-up Express mainly focused on areas such as artificial intelligence, big data, biotech, the Internet of Things, fintech and robotics. In 2021, more new technologies are explored, including augmented reality, virtual reality, green tech, health tech and retail tech. In recent years, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria have become increasingly important among venture capitalists and corporations, so the Social Impact Award has been established to recognised innovative and ground-breaking start-up ideas that create real social impact.

Holistic support for start-ups

Co-organised with the Hong Kong Startup Council, Enterprise Connect: Solution Day will be held in mid-June and invites start-ups in medtech, food tech and wellness tech to present their ideas under the theme “Well Being Tech”, pitching to business users and fostering collaboration between start-ups and user enterprises. Co-organised with The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, the Young Founders’ Camp equips young entrepreneurs via brainstorming workshops and mentorship sessions, offering a testing ground for them to implement their start-up ideas through HKTDC-organised events such as SmartBiz Expo and Entrepreneur Day. Meanwhile, the success stories of various Start-up Express alumni will be brought together in the Start-up Express Digital Book: A Journey to Success.

Partner organisations of the Start-up Fiesta, including W-Hub, Entrelink, Advantage Austria, Junior Achievement Hong Kong and more, will organise various seminars and workshops to provide networking opportunities to support local start-ups.

Attracting investors

The AMTD Group is the Sole Strategic Partner of Start-up Express for the third consecutive year. Calvin Choi, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of AMTD Group, Founding Chairman of the Greater Bay Young Entrepreneurs Association (“GBYEA”), Vice Chairman of Greater Bay Area Homeland Youth Community Foundation and the Vice President of China Young Entrepreneurs Association believes that core values and fundamental business models for start-ups must be solid, sustainable and resilient. Accordingly, there will be opportunities available for the more ready start-ups no matter during good times or bad times, and even during extreme situations such as the COVID pandemic, as long as the entrepreneurs have clear vision and strategy to navigate beyond status quo to rise up as a winner in due course.

“The global economy has been severely affected by the pandemic, and inevitably this has also impacted the investment sentiment. This makes it even more crucial for founders of start-ups to embrace developments and visions beyond the current points in time but into a sustainable long term future,” Mr Choi shared his perspectives, given that the AMTD Group has invested in many start-ups around the world, paying close attention to factors such as the comprehensiveness of business solutions, cross-region and cross-platform features, growth trajectory, sustainability, scalability and the team’s vision and resilience.

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