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Hong Kong sees a burgeoning tech startup ecosystem

Peter Yan and David Chung (Computerworld HK) | Nov. 6, 2013
Hong Kong's startup ecosystem has been taking shape in recent years amid rising availability of private co-working space and media hype as well as growing support from the government and industry organisations.

Innovation and creative ideas are increasingly valuable as they help bring new jobs and revenues. In the UK, 6% of businesses are defined as "high-growth" (though not all high-growth businesses are in the high-tech sector) and they create 54% of all new jobs in the country, says two recent reports by the NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) — the UK's Innovation Agency.

Despite the high-growth opportunities and rosy startup pictures painted by tech giants such as Facebook and Google, failure rate of startups is high. In the US, three out of four venture-backed startups fail, according to a research by Shikhar Ghosh, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School—it was reported in the Wall Street Journal in September 2012.

Non-venture-backed startups face an even higher failure rate than venture-backed ones in their first four years of operations, mainly due to the lack of capital that sustains a company when its business model fails. All these numbers illustrate one important fact—funding and business supports are crucial during the early stage of a startup.

Co-working space, startup events on the rise
On our home turf, Hong Kong's startup ecosystem has been taking shape in recent years amid rising availability of private co-working space and media hype as well as growing support from the government and industry organizations.

Forbes — in an article published in March 2013 — has named Hong Kong the world's number one tech capital to watch after Silicon Valley and New York. Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) of the HKSAR Government also mentioned that startups are on the rise as 15% of the projects it completed in 2012 involved such companies. (how many of these were Technology startups?).

There's truth in the claims of Forbes and InvestHK. In recent years, co-working spaces, seminars, networking events, and pitching activities have been flourishing, while tech firms are emerging at an unprecedented rate. StartupsHK — founded in 2009 with an aim to grow the local startup community—has witnessed a membership growth from five to 5000 in three years.

Since 2010 the number of private co-working spaces has kept rising —now there are BootHK, The Hive, CoCoon, The Good Lab, Retro Spot, and others. A group of enthusiastic local entrepreneurs is also taking ground in Fo Tan, forming a robust community in the area.

Entrepreneurship activities and events have also received tremendous, favorable feedback. Startup Weekend — a global grassroots movement for active entrepreneurs to form a team in 48 hours and pitch their startup ideas has taken its foothold in Hong Kong. Since 2010, the Startup Weekend has more than 1,000 entrants with four editions. You'd certainly be able to meet many more passionate entrepreneurs in Hong Kong if you attend regular meetups organized by start Club, Web Wednesday, Mobile Monday — just to name a few.

 

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