The StartmeupHK Festival concluded a successful week-long series of events, networking activities and pitch competitions on November 17, with more than 12,000 participants and 16,000 online viewers from 85 countries and territories joining the events across Hong Kong.
The annual event, organized by Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), showcases the city’s thriving innovation and technology sector, and brought together start-ups, investors, global business leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world, who explored developments in areas such as Web3, Healthtech, Proptech, Greentech and Gamefi.
Under the theme “Unlimited Future”, the festival featured expert discussions, with over 600 speakers representing the business and start-up sectors, exchanging ideas on developments in the information and technology landscape (I&T) and how they could drive change in the future. . More than 800 individual business networking meetings also took place between start-ups, investors and potential partners to explore business opportunities.
The event included eight main events in addition to community activities around Hong Kong. A satellite event was also held in Bangkok, where leaders and innovators discussed business strategies to drive innovation and growth.
The choice of venues this year, including Ocean Park and Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, allowed the festival to exploit the diverse atmospheres of these venues and create an immersive experience for participants as the event marked a return to the format in person.
Hong Kong’s vibrant start-up ecosystem continues to demonstrate resilience, attracting innovative entrepreneurs and global capital. The city has not only fostered the growth of unicorns, but is also home to a wide range of start-ups specializing in financial technology, retail technology, health technology, Internet of Things (IoT) and proptech.
During the opening ceremony, “Game On!” 2023,” Michael Wong, acting financial secretary of the Hong Kong government, said the city’s growing start-up community now numbers a record 4,000 companies. “These figures are very encouraging and demonstrate that Hong Kong has all the necessary elements to nurture and support start-ups,” he added.
Similar sentiments were echoed by other key speakers, including Professor Sun Dong, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry. Speaking at the Startup World Cup 2023 Asian Finals, he said Hong Kong is recognized as a world-class financial center and “strives to become an international innovation and technology hub, making our city an ideal destination for start-ups to thrive.”
Similar views were expressed by Alpha Lau, general manager of investment promotion at InvestHK. “Despite continued challenges posed by macroeconomic uncertainties, Hong Kong’s start-up ecosystem has demonstrated remarkable resilience and growth,” she said, adding that the government would continue to put implementing strategies to attract large companies, start-ups, talent and capital.
The festival examined the challenges faced in various facets of our daily lives and explored how potential applications of I&T could provide solutions.
Sustainability has emerged as a key theme across all sectors. During a speech at the “St Gallen Symposium Hong Kong – GBA Forum 2023” on the Greater Bay Area, Bernard Chan, Chairman of Our Hong Kong Foundation, highlighted the role of collaboration within the region to integrate practices sustainable trade in economic models. Christine Loh, chief development strategist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, highlighted the role family offices can play in directing capital towards sustainable businesses.
A similar message emerged at the “1.5°C Summit – The Defining Decade for Technological Impact,” focused on climate change and sustainability. Alexander Bent, co-founder and managing partner of Undivided Ventures, which invests in start-ups in the built environment, launched the call for organizations to invest in socially responsive businesses and address issues related to sustainability in order to maintain their competitiveness.
The “Real Estate Beyond 2023” conference explored potential I&T solutions for housing and sustainability issues. The day-long event included keynote speeches, panel discussions and small group dialogues with business and technology leaders, including Andrew Young, Associate Director (Innovation), Sino Group. The conference discussed various aspects of the housing sector and the potential for collaboration between property developers and proptech start-ups to find solutions to help the sector achieve decarbonisation targets.
The roles of artificial intelligence (AI) and Web3 were highlighted at the Asia Health Innovation Summit 2023, organized by venture capital and accelerator firm Brinc. The summit provided an opportunity for regional start-ups, healthcare professionals and investors to exchange ideas.
Discussions focused on the impact of AI – particularly generative AI – on healthcare, workforce transformation and emerging innovations, with Dr Frank Pun, Head of Insilico Medicine in Hong Kong, highlighting its potential to generate experimental data to help patients, particularly when healthcare professionals are faced with health problems. faced with new or relatively unknown diseases.
Several community events provided an opportunity to explore new ideas and network with new people. One such event was “Louder Connect,” hosted by communications firm Louder Global, which highlighted the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs. Jayne Chan, head of StartmeupHK at InvestHK, highlighted the number of female start-up leaders in Hong Kong, but stressed the need for the city’s investors to support female talent to strengthen their role in the tech economy .
The spirit of the festival was further strengthened by competitions. A Shark tankThe pitch competitions were a breeding ground for innovative ideas from start-ups and students, while the 2023 Startup World Cup (SWC) Asian Final, held at the Science and Technology Park in Hong Kong, saw the teams compete for the top prize in front of the CEOs. from major global corporations and venture capital firms. The winning team, i2cool, an energy-efficient service provider that uses passive radiative cooling technology, earned a chance to compete for the global championship at the SWC Grand Finals in December in San Francisco.
The Jumpstarter 2023 Tech by the Harbor event featured a global pitch competition organized by Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund (AEF), during which finalist start-ups demonstrated their innovative ideas and solutions. AEF is a non-profit initiative of Alibaba Group Holding, owner of the South China Morning Post.
The winner of this year’s Jumpstarter competition was Allegrow Biotech, a Hong Kong-based biotechnology company developing cost-effective cellular therapeutic products and treatments.