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Speech by SCED at StartmeupHK Festival 2017 "Retail's Cutting Edge" forum (English only)
     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at StartmeupHK Festival 2017 "Retail's Cutting Edge" forum today (January 16):

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to join you all this morning. My warmest welcome to you all, especially to those who have flown all the way to Hong Kong for the StartmeupHK festival and today's forum.

     Winston Churchill once said: "To improve is to change; to perfect is to change often."

     The business landscape for the retail industry has changed a great deal in recent years. That's thanks, in part, to the relentless advance of technology, particularly the rise of mobile devices and the Internet's worldwide availability. Together, they have thoroughly disrupted the retail markets everywhere.

     Online shopping, for example, has never been easier. Just look at Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, and the like. They are disrupting the conventional ways of distributing and selling goods.

     With big data analytics coming into play, it is exciting to see the pace and scale of development of e-commerce. We are no longer surprised when Amazon and eBay make those perfect product recommendations by tracking our clicks and browsing. Also, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) trading on Alibaba are not surprised when their business-related data helps build up credit profiles that can offer them access to innovative financing options.

     Indeed, through the deployment of new technologies in retail and logistics, the conventional business model has been revolutionised. Services are no longer bounded by bricks-and-mortar outlets with fixed opening hours. Transactions can be initiated and completed anytime, anywhere.

     Today’s forum is a very opportune occasion to share how disruptors use technology to shape the way people relate to brands, select products and use social media to help determine their purchases, and also how retailers are adopting new ways to measure, analyse and interact with their customers. In short, we will get to understand how the retail industry survives in the fast-changing tech and business environment.

     Speaking of change, Hong Kong is certainly no stranger to it. Over the past few decades, Hong Kong has changed dramatically from a fishing port to a traditional OEM (original equipment manufacturer) manufacturing base, and on to a global financial centre and services-oriented economy.

     And today, Hong Kong is developing fast into one of the world’s most popular start-up hubs. Young and energetic entrepreneurs from around the world come to Hong Kong to look for opportunities to fulfill their aspirations and put their audacious ideas to test. Today, we have more than 1 900 start-ups, employing nearly 5 300 people, a growth of 24 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.

     You may ask why our start-up ecosystem is experiencing such tremendous growth? Hong Kong has a large pool of passionate champions and stakeholders with a "can-do" attitude and spirit in our ecosystem. We have investors and potential investors with capital, talent from all over the world, a world-class infrastructure, a low and simple tax regime, strong IP (Intellectual Property) protection and rule of law. What’s more? We offer start-up companies convenient and efficient access to Chinese, Asian and global markets as well as production facilities next door in Shenzhen. We help our start-up entrepreneurs turn innovative ideas into commercialisation of new products and services for the local, Mainland and global markets.

     We are working hard to build on these strengths and to maintain a vibrant and favourable ecosystem for start-ups. A host of measures, from precious seed funding to affordable office space, and from sound business advice to valuable access to investors, are in place to help kick-start these new companies to grow and thrive.

     Looking forward, we hope to attract retail technology innovators to our city and entrepreneurs across sectors from all over the world to capitalise on Hong Kong’s unique strengths. My colleagues from InvestHK (Invest Hong Kong) are present at this forum. Please talk to them to learn more about how Hong Kong can help you get access to new markets, funding, talent and production.

     Ladies and gentlemen, technological advancements have transformed entirely the way that we live, the way that we work and communicate, and the way that we do business. Together, let us adapt to this changing landscape and bring our success to the next level.

     "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."

     Thank you.
Ends/Monday, January 16, 2017
Issued at HKT 10:02
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