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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.

In the public sector, the government has initiated incubation programs in Cyberport, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, and the Hong Kong Design Center to support tech startups. Recently, InvestHK also launched a StartmeupHK Venture Program to support the growth of high-impact ventures on a global scale.

As part of the strategies of a recently published document on the Public Consultation on 2014 Digital 21 Strategy, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) is developing a one-stop online portal for tech startups to find opportunities. Expected to be launched by end-2013, the portal will provide information on incubation programs, co-working spaces, funding and loan schemes, success stories, and startup events.

The portal will enable startups to reach out to potential investors, providing them with pitching and networking opportunities, containing practical business and legal tips with useful templates and samples, as well as listing a pool of mentors offering startups advice.

Cyberport has by far the longest-standing in providing a range of support to ICT startups. Since the launch of the Cyberport Incubation Program in 2005, the organization has evolved into a one-stop platform offering support to the ICT start-ups and entrepreneurs from concept generation to prototype development and from setting up their operations to finding investors and expanding to overseas markets.

As shown in the following diagrams (click to enlarge), the provision of seed funding, incubation program, professional trainings, brilliant office facilities, technology support, and business support services by Cyberport have significantly contributed to different stages of enterprise growth in the start-up life cycle.

To give a further boost to the local startup scene, Cyberport has introduced the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund (CCMF) since 2009, providing a seed fund of HK$100,000 in cash to enable successful applicants to turn their creative ideas into prototype in six months .

As of September 2013, the scheme has received a total of 911 applications and awarded 86 grants. Eighty-four percent of the awardees applying for a place in the incubation program were successfully admitted.

Since 2005, Cyberport has launched its two-year incubation program which has offered a financial assistance of up to HK$530,000 to each startup. It has successfully bred more than 150 companies in the past 13 intakes with 67% of them still in operation after the incubation period. Professional training in the fields of legal, IP, finance, marketing and business development from the program helps shape up those firms that are ready to seek investment or funding on their own after graduation.

Cyberport also sees helping startups tap international opportunities as crucial. Being tuned by world-class accelerator readiness programs co-hosted by Cyberport and local or overseas partners such as Angels Den, startups has secured fundings and won at major pitching events such as e27 Competition and TechCrunch Disrupt. In the past few years, startups from Cyberport secured more than HK$67 million of angel funds and 129 awards including 27 international ones such as Red Herring Global.


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