SCED's speech at Empowering Young Entrepreneurs Program kick-off ceremony (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the kick-off ceremony for the Empowering Young Entrepreneurs Program today (February 16):

Professor Sung (Vice-Chancellor and President of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Professor Joseph Sung), Professor Au (Director of CUHK Center for Entrepreneurship, Professor Kevin Au), Mr Allon (Managing Director of Google Hong Kong, Mr Dominic Allon), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon. I'm most delighted to join you all here today at the kick-off ceremony for the Empowering Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) Program. I must first congratulate the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Google for staging this meaningful year-long event, bringing together the brightest talents to discuss and exchange ideas on the two things cherished by most, if not all, economies around the globe - innovation and entrepreneurship.

     Innovation is all about finding novel ways to make things work better. With the global economy becoming more and more knowledge-based in the 21st century, innovation is the key to sustainable growth, competitiveness and social well-being.

     Innovation is by no means an automatic process. It would not happen just by itself even with the aid of technology. The core of innovation, as I see it, has always been people. It all comes down to the entrepreneurs who have the determination, passion and drive to come up with new ideas and to take actual steps to put them into action.

     Today, I'm glad to see many eager faces willing to take up the challenge as an entrepreneur and change the world for the better. And I'm confident that Hong Kong is the right place for young, innovative entrepreneurs to grow and thrive.

     For a start, Hong Kong is renowned for its robust legal and intellectual property protection. Entrepreneurs can freely innovate, knowing that their rights can be safeguarded. Our free flow of capital and information, low and simple tax regime, as well as strong capital raising and management capabilities also contribute to a business-friendly environment for entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, Hong Kong enjoys an eminently unique geographical location. We are on the doorstep to the Mainland, which offers immense business opportunities and a ready market to Hong Kong's entrepreneurs. With a tech-savvy population and a staggering mobile penetration rate of over 230 per cent, Hong Kong is a particularly fertile ground for the use of technology in driving innovation and entrepreneurship.

     Building on these advantages, our Government has been proactively promoting the development of innovation and technology as well as entrepreneurship in Hong Kong, providing support to budding entrepreneurs in various stages of their development. For instance, we have Cyberport and the Science Park as our technology flagships. The incubation programmes administered by these two organisations offer all-rounded support measures to startups which are immensely valuable. At the same time, our Innovation and Technology Commission and the Trade and Industry Department have put in place various funding schemes for small and medium enterprises and startups.

     On top of these, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer is going to launch an interactive portal to bring together all the stakeholders in the startup ecosystem. Apart from providing a comprehensive range of practical information, the portal will serve as a virtual pitching and networking platform for entrepreneurs and startups, allowing them to showcase their ideas, products and company profiles to investors and customers. The portal will be launched later this month and I strongly recommend using it as a networking platform to your advantage.

     All these unique strengths of Hong Kong and Government efforts have stood us in good stead to become the regional hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. But it is all the more important to have the private sector working in the same direction. On this, I'm very much heartened to see more and more private collaborative initiatives championing entrepreneurship springing up in recent years. Today's EYE Program is a perfect example. I sincerely hope that Google, the university and other stakeholders will continue their remarkable endeavours on this front.

     On this note, may I wish the EYE Program every success, and all of you a fruitful experience in the year to come. Thank you very much and have a great day.

Ends/Sunday, February 16, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:19