Major Speeches, Presentations and Press Releases

SCED's speech at opening of TusPark (Hong Kong)'s innovation hub (English only)

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the opening of TusPark (Tsinghua University Science Park) (Hong Kong)'s innovation hub today (February 5):

Mr Xie (Inspector of the Department of Educational, Scientific and Technological Affairs of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Mr Xie Weimin), Chairman Mei (Board Chairman of Tus-Holdings, Mr Mei Meng), President Wang (President of Tus-Holdings, Mr Wang Jiwu), Fanny (Chairperson of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, Mrs Fanny Law), ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It is my great pleasure to join you today to celebrate the opening of Tus-Holdings' first innovation space in Hong Kong. It is indeed a strong commitment to the city's fast-growing start-up ecosystem.

I love talking to the start-up community, which is full of idealism, energy and ambition. I understand the audience today includes all stakeholders in the start-up ecosystem - investors, entrepreneurs, incubators, as well as supporters and mentors for young entrepreneurs, working together to make our start-up ecosystem successful.

Start-ups are important to our society and will shape our future. Visionary investors and incubators like Tus-Holdings help lead the way by supporting start-ups which have the entrepreneurial passion to turn innovative and creative ideas into thriving businesses. We need business creativity that acts as a catalyst to reshape and reinforce the home-grown start-up culture that Hong Kong has long been known for. Let me share with you some stories of start-ups.

Sensbeat, a Hong Kong student start-up which has developed an app that was chosen globally as one of the top five most innovative apps, and the only one from Hong Kong at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing in 2013; Lumen - an energy-saving smart light bulb and a personal lighting environment solution controlled from our smartphones; and Choice Co-operative - Hong Kong's first gluten-free bakery. The point is that not just these but all start-ups are 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.

It has become increasingly obvious that there are some key trends emerging in the start-up community in Hong Kong. Take for example the co-work spaces in Hong Kong. Their number has really exploded over the past couple of years, from just three in 2010, all the way to 35 today, more than a ten-fold increase. And today, we are here to celebrate the opening of the single largest co-work space in Hong Kong.

By working with like-minded talented people in the same space, start-up entrepreneurs feed on that extra ounce of synergistic effect to help them succeed. I have met many start-ups working in these co-work spaces, and I am truly excited by their innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. With Tus-Holdings' strong Mainland background and experience, I believe TusPark (Hong Kong) will be an excellent platform for young entrepreneurs, especially those from Mainland China, to interact and crossover with their counterparts from Hong Kong and around the globe, and to bring their businesses to the international level.

Talking about going global, Hong Kong has also received much global attention as a start-up hub. Forbes magazine named Hong Kong as one of the world's top four start-up capitals to watch (after Silicon Valley and New York). And this is what Forbes has to say about Hong Kong: "With a community of innovative and ambitious entrepreneurs on one side and a population of internationally traveled, wealthy tycoons on the other, Hong Kong could be a powder keg of a techonomy waiting to explode".

Indeed, Hong Kong is riding on the global trend of start-ups, using our own unique advantages to compete. I am sure you are interested to know in which potential growth areas Hong Kong has a unique advantage. Allow me to highlight a few:

First, FinTech (financial technology). As China's global financial centre, Hong Kong offers new opportunities including alternative lending, the use of big data for credit scoring and a host of mobile applications. The demographics of more than 2 billion Internet users, with the largest absolute number of smartphones, and the estimate that 66 per cent of the world's middle class will be residing in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030, will drive FinTech innovation in Asia.

Second, the Internet of Things, or IoT. Hong Kong's track record and manufacturing expertise, world-class software infrastructure and strong IP (intellectual property) protection and enforcement regime give it advantages in this space. Recently, I invited a group of start-up 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. IoT has been generating a lot of excitement, and has the potential to transform our industrial landscape. In a proactive manner, we will continue to help our SMEs stay alert to the latest trends and technology, so that they may take full advantage of the opportunities that this new era presents.

Then we have 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 sensors/devices. Other major players like Siemens, Hitachi, NEC and Panasonic also closely watching the market opportunities in this area. With the new phase three development of the Hong Kong Science Park, the expansion plans at the airport, and planned and proposed developments in East Kowloon and Tung Chung, Hong Kong offers unique opportunities for start-ups and large corporations involved in smart city technologies to launch their solutions for Asia from here.

As the policy secretary for commerce and economic development, one of my jobs is to harness this start-up trend and create opportunity for our stakeholders. On a macro level, start-ups contribute greatly to our economies by bringing to us inspiration, technology, talented people and investment from all around the world. What can be more exciting than to witness a start-up transform into a global brand. That's the kind of success story we all want to see.

What have we done? Our strategy, which has shown great promise, is to develop a vibrant start-up ecosystem. We create an environment to embrace the start-up culture and help our entrepreneurs to succeed.

First, we try our best to maintain Hong Kong as a free and competitive economy. We have a low and simple tax system. And we have rule of law, free flow of capital, information and talent. These, together with our other strengths, have helped create an ideal environment for doing business, and for nurturing young entrepreneurs. We've been rated the world's freest economy by the Heritage Foundation for 21 consecutive years. We've also topped the Fraser Institute's "Economic Freedom of the World" report since 1996. In this year's World Bank's "Doing Business Report", Hong Kong finished third.

Then, the resources. We know that start-ups need many things: seed funding, office space, work visa facilitation, communities network, business development support, design support, promotion platforms, market access and serial investment, etc. And so we offer an excellent network to address such needs. We have different types of public and private initiatives specifically designed to nurture start-ups and attract talents, including incubation programmes, government funding schemes, networking communities and co-work spaces, etc.

As Asia's leading international financial centre, and the world's equity funding leader, Hong Kong provides an effective channel for investors of technology companies. In 2014, total equity funds raised through IPOs (initial public offerings) in Hong Kong amounted to US$29 billion.

One of the Hong Kong Government's programmes, StartmeupHK (StartmeupHK Venture Programme), is giving further impetus to the growth of high impact ventures on a global scale, by facilitating their access to financial, intellectual and social capital.

The Venture 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.

Our goal is to encourage the development of start-ups, to help them grow into regional and global brands. Hong Kong has all the ingredients to become a leading destination and hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. I and my colleagues in the Government are very passionate about building the ecosystem. Looking ahead, the HKSAR Government looks forward to continue working closely with all stakeholders in the start-up ecosystem to bring the future development of innovation and entrepreneurship in Hong Kong to the next level.

With Tus-Holdings bringing in decades of successful experience in science park development and running of incubation programmes, as well as its extensive network in Mainland China, I am sure TusPark (Hong Kong) will help strengthen the technological exchanges and development for both the Mainland and Hong Kong. TusPark (Hong Kong) can serve as a global development and capital connection platform for the enterprises already in the Tus-Holdings network, at the same time offering a strong base for Hong Kong and international start-ups to gain access into the Mainland, by bringing in innovative, ground-breaking and disruptive technologies.

In closing, I would like to invite all of you to participate in Invest Hong Kong's StartmeupHK initiatives in the near future. Our colleagues from Invest Hong Kong look forward to continue supporting you to use Hong Kong as your platform to grow globally. Once again, I want to congratulate Tus-Holdings for their visionary move. You help create business leaders for tomorrow. I look forward to celebrating your success in the near future.

Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, February 5, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:26