Hong Kong’s annual StartmeupHK Festival, the startup showpiece organized by Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), has successfully held its first virtual version. The record-breaking week more than lived up to a common underlying theme apparent in each of the sector events and activities: innovation and problem solving as the driving force for startups.
From July 6-10, 2020, the event hosted 471 speakers from 97 countries and territories, attracting a total of 181,770 attendees. The festival featured 199 exhibitors.
Startup Impact Summit by WHub
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government chief executive Carrie Lam spoke at the Startup Impact Summit organized by WHub. She outlined a roadmap for startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Lam highlighted the government’s pro-innovation procurement policies and support for Hong Kong’s local startup base. She also pointed out the far-reaching promise of the Greater Bay Area, notably the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in concert with the government of Shenzhen, China.
Coping with COVID-19 was also a recurrent theme. The Startup Impact Summit looked at the impact of the pandemic on fundraising for startups.
Launch angel Investor and podcaster Jason Calacanis, speaking from his home in California, United States, said events like the StartmeupHK Festival are so important for startups. He explained that one meeting can change the course of an entrepreneur’s life and it is all about finding the right company with the right founders in the right market at the right price.
Connected Cities Conference by KPMG
The festival started with the Connected Cities Conference organized by KPMG. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government‘s innovation and technology secretary Alfred Sit was the speaker.
Sit led a discussion on what it takes to build a smart city with reference to Hong Kong. The government plans are outlined in the Smart City Blueprint which puts forth over 70 initiatives under six smart areas to maintain Hong Kong’s position as a leading city for innovation and technology.
Connected Retail Experiences by Bailey Communications
At the Connected Retail Experiences, organized by Bailey Communications, Funtastic Australia chairman Bernie Brookes shared the hints and tips for the ever-evolving retailer. He said the importance of education had been forgotten.
“No longer can retailers sell products to an uninformed consumer,” Brookes explained. “People want to be educated on products but with that comes a lot of online activism.”
Ecosystem Summit by The Mills Fabrica
New World Development‘s group audit and management services general manager Teddy Liu spoke at the Ecosystem Summit, which was organized by The Mills Fabrica. The corporate innovation panelist stressed the need to challenge mindsets.
“We must learn to fail smart and fail fast,” Liu said. “If you can’t grow, you go.”
Lifestyle Tech Conference by Jumpstart Media
Kami Intelligence and Hanson Robotics board director Jeanne Lim spoke at the Lifestyle Tech Conference, organized by Jumpstart Media. She imagined a future in which artificial intelligence (AI) would allow us to realize and relearn what our own humanity is.
Dorabot co-founder and CEO Spencer Deng cautioned that AI “works like a hive-mind getting information from a multiplicity of sources” unlike a human being with all of its senses. He said, “AI will soon turn into an unhuman thing.”
HKFIA 2020 Forum by Sina Finance
On the final day of the festival, at the HKFIA 2020 Forum organized by Sina Finance, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government financial secretary Paul Chan spoke about Hong Kong’s resilience while recovering from the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He noted that despite its many challenges, Hong Kong is still faring very well and again led the world last year in funds raised through initial public offerings.
“I have no doubt that we’ll be in the running again this year, despite the turbulence out there,” Chan stated. “After all, Hong Kong has become a much sought-after place for secondary listing of Chinese companies. Just ask video-game developer NetEase and e-commerce retailer JD.com, both of which listed in Hong Kong last month, following in the welcome wake of tech giant Alibaba’s secondary listing here last November.”
Covering a range of topics including gender inequality in the workplace, a lively panel discusses the advantages of having women in positions of power. UBS‘s Wealth Management Asia Pacific co-head Amy Lo centered the conversation around Hong Kong.
“We are lucky to be in Hong Kong,” Lo said. “There are a significant number of female CEOs here.”
InvestHK investment promotion director-general Stephen Phillips encouraged startups to stay resolutely optimistic in these challenging times. He said, “I know that entrepreneurs just like you will play a vital role in leading us to a better future.”
To follow the latest startup developments in Hong Kong, please go to the website http://www.startmeup.hk.