[WIT Asia series] Hong Kong is a short two hour flight from Taipei and is a city that has many advantages for international companies who wish to do business there. It truly feels like a crucible where Chinese and western culture meet. You have the international brands, the Starbucks, but also the delights of Chinese culture such as the traditional food and the markets plus most people speak English. Its proximity to the mainland is a huge advantage, one that both governments are trying to leverage. For example, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock exchange opened the day after we left giving international investors access to Chinese capital markets and some of the fastest growing companies through Hong Kong, like the one that already exists with Shanghai.Access to mainland markets & production facilities is also available to international startups through formal accelerators like Blueprint, Solution Lab or services like IngDan experience centre.
Blueprint is a B2B accelerator run by Swire properties, a massive conglomerate who own such assets as Cathay pacific airlines, freight shipping interests and the distribution rights for Coca Cola in mainland China. Evidence of Swire properties companies is evident in the space such as a phone booth with a lavatory door from a Boeing 747, a shipping container containing a chill out area of beanbags etc. The accelerator is open to any tech startup both local and international and will be considered as long as the business model fits with one Swire’s core interests. Although they don’t invest (for the moment), their mentor network includes the Swire Properties CEO and multiple board members who work with the startups on projects leveraging corporate assets and the flexibility of the startups.
Navigating the city is truly a pleasure. We used few modes of transport including the MTR Subway system which is clean and convenient. Taxi’s are reasonably priced and you benefit from interacting with the charmless local drivers who have a great sense of humour, you just need to know how to handle them! The best by far was the ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong’s main island which takes approx. 10 minutes, costs $1USD and offers incredible views of the city from the middle of the harbour.
The diversity of industry in Hong Kong is exciting. It’s the 4th busiest port in the world, one of the financial powerhouses of Asia so it’s no surprise there are startups disrupting these spaces. Beyond that, there is a string focus on IoT, New Manufacturing, Connected Devices and HealthTech among any others. Spending a few days there and attending the InnoDesignTech expo underlined the importance of Hong Kong as a market for most sectors.
Like Taiwan it serves as a base from which to access the mainland China market. Transport links to Shenzhen are fantastic, it’s the equivalent of taking a subway for 45 mins before a relatively painless border crossing. To better understand the market and opportunities that exist, our partners HKTDC & InvestHK have a huge amount of resources available. Let us know of you need an introduction.