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SCED's speech at launch event of The Hub (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the launch event of The Hub today (April 21):

Darren (Wong),

     Congratulations on the opening of The Hub, your second co-working space in Hong Kong. I still remember visiting your first co-working space, The Loft in San Po Kong, just a couple months ago. Thank you for having another fabulous space to connect all the stakeholders in our startup ecosystem.

     I am really excited to join you all to celebrate this occasion. We have in the audience investors, entrepreneurs, incubators, as well as supporters and mentors for young entrepreneurs. Thanks to you all, we have seen Hong Kong transforming into one of the world's most vibrant and thriving startup ecosystems.

     Think about this, just three years ago, Nest was the only private sector incubator in the city. Today it is joined by close to 40 incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces which are all supporting startups in the city. Last month, we saw the launch of Tuspark (Hong Kong) (Tsinghua University Science Park's first innovation space in Hong Kong) in Kowloon East. Tuspark (Hong Kong) is currently the single largest co-work space in Hong Kong and has an extensive network in Mainland China.

     Today, The Hub is bringing another value-added dimension to the development of co-working and co-making spaces in Hong Kong. Your convenient location in Wan Chai right next to the MTR will attract a lot of visitors attending the conventions and seminars at the HKCEC (Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre). And your new platform here will create a lot of synergy between visitors and members of your facilities both here in Wan Chai and The Loft in San Po Kong.

     Startups, with their relentless passion towards creating successful businesses, are the engines of economic growth. From listening to their pitching, I am always excited to learn how startups bring inspiration, innovation, ideas, talented people and technology transfer to our economy.

     Choice Co-operative is the first gluten-free bakery in Hong Kong; Lumen focuses on IoT (Internet of Things) application, using smartphones to control light bulb and the lighting environment; and Sensbeat, a company which I met again just yesterday in the Battle Silicon, a competition for startups in Cyberport. Sensbeat is a Hong Kong student startup which has developed an app that was chosen globally as one of the top five most innovative apps.

     As you may see, startups are rather diverse. Some of them are technology-based, some of them not. It is their business model, innovation and creativity that makes them unique and gives them the ability to succeed.

     The HKSAR Government is committed to helping transform our city into a leading destination and hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. We want innovation and globally scalable startups to use the city as their lab, their showcase and their global launch pad. In fact, our Financial Secretary announced recently a series of measures that the Government will be undertaking to improve our ecosystem for startups and tech enterprises.  There are three areas that we believe we have unique advantages in.

     First, FinTech (financial technology). As a global financial centre and a hub for retailers and brands from around the world, Hong Kong offers an ideal platform for FinTech startups to facilitate functions such as payment, clearing and settlement systems, big data analytics, cloud computing, information and risk management and network security. Our city may enhance operational efficiency and help open new modes of development for the financial and e-commerce sectors.

     Second, the Internet of Things. The IoT has been generating a lot of excitement, and has the potential to transform our industrial landscape. Recently, I invited a group of startup entrepreneurs and established industrialists to have a brainstorming session on IoT, in particular how we should position our industrial sector to harness the advantages of IoT. We have world-class software infrastructure, strong IP (intellectual property) protection and enforcement regime, and, of course, a great location. We are right next to Shenzhen, the hardware capital of the world. We have all the ingredients for startups to develop their prototypes, validate their products and develop large scale manufacturing to bring them to market in the fastest time.

     The third area is smart city technologies.  Multinational corporations such as France's Schneider Electric are using Hong Kong as the base for developing and testing total solutions and devices. Other major players like Siemens, Hitachi, NEC and Panasonic are also closely watching the market opportunities in this area. With the new phase three development of Hong Kong Science Park, expansion plans at the airport, and planned and proposed developments in East Kowloon and Tung Chung, Hong Kong offers unique opportunities for startups and large corporations involved in smart city technologies to launch their solutions for Asia from here.

     So, how do we harness this startup trend and create opportunity for our stakeholders? One initiative we have is the StartmeupHK Venture Programme. The Programme facilitates startups to gain access to financial, intellectual and social capital. Programme participants have the unique opportunity to pitch their ventures to the judges and assembled crowd of angel investors, venture capitalists, and overseas and local business communities.

     Hong Kong is indeed a cradle for entrepreneurs and has all the ingredients to become the lab, showcase and global launch pad for innovative ventures. Moving on, we look forward to attracting more innovative, high-impact and scalable startups, early- to growth-stage ventures and entrepreneurial talents to our city. We would also like to encourage overseas and Mainland angels, VCs (venture capitalists), and family offices to set up a base in Hong Kong.

     In fact, we are quite encouraged to see more and more second generation tycoons investing in Hong Kong based startups. The investment community, represented by a number of you here today, plays a crucial role in helping us build our ecosystem. I would like to call on you to bring your ideas and encourage investment from seed, angel, and series A, B and C stages into our local startups.

     With concerted effort, let us together bring the future development of innovation and entrepreneurship in Hong Kong to the next level.

     Thank you!

Ends/Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:15


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