StartmeupHK Festival 2023 concludes with resounding success: pioneering sustainability across all sectors and propelling global startups towards future of boundless possibilities
The StartmeupHK Festival 2023 concluded on 17 November after an exhilarating week-long series of events, networking activities and pitching competitions. Organised by Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), the Festival drew over 12 000 participants and 16 000 online viewers from 85 countries and territories, consisting of industry leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, tech enthusiasts and government officials. The Festival’s theme, "A Future Unlimited", set the stage for more than 600 visionary speakers from across the globe. Over 800 one-to-one business matching meetings were also conducted between start-ups and investors and potential partners to explore business opportunities.
Photo shows the Acting Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mr Michael Wong, delivering his opening remarks to kick off the two-day spectacle at Game On! 2023.
Photo shows the Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry, Professor Sun Dong, delivering his opening remarks at the Startup World Cup Asia Finale 2023.
Photo shows the Director-General of Investment Promotion, InvestHK, Ms Alpha Lau, delivering opening remarks at Real Estate Beyond 2023.
Photo shows the Chairman of Our Hong Kong Foundation, Mr Bernard Chan, speaking at the St. Gallen Symposium Hong Kong - GBA Forum 2023.
Photo shows (from left) Co-Founder/Managing Partner, Undivided Ventures Mr Alexander Bent; the Managing Director, MTR Lab Company Limited, Mr Michael Chan; the Director, Investment Origination, Asia-Pacific Region Program, NatureVest, the Nature Conservancy, Mr Vikalp Sabhlok; and the Head of Market Intelligence, BlueOnion, Mr William Yuen, during the panel discussion at The 1.5°C Summit - The Defining Decade for Impact with Tech.
Photo shows (from left) the Chief Executive Officer of CarbonCare InnoLab, Mr Chong Chan-yau; the Founder of Negawatt, Mr Arthur Lam; and the Founder, Wow Impact Group, Ms Carrie Law, exchanging insights at Real Estate Beyond 2023.
Photo shows Country Manager of IQVIA Ms Carmen Li (second left); the Managing Director, Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology Limited, Dr Gina Jiang (second right); and the President, Our Hong Kong Foundation, Dr Jane Lee (first right), discussing hot trends in Hong Kong’s healthcare ecosystem at the Asia Health Innovation Summit.
Photo shows the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Animoca Brands, Mr Yet Siu (left), discussing digital ownership and the web3 opportunities in Hong Kong at Game On! 2023.
Photo shows the Chairman of Alibaba Group and the Chairman of Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, Mr Joe Tsai (right), sharing his thoughts at JUMPSTARTER 2023 Tech by The Harbour.
Photo shows (from left) the Founder of MM Marketing Communications Consulting Ltd, Ms Patricia Cheong; the Founder of MaGE Group, Mr Bowie Lau; the Principal at JC Legal, Ms Janice Chew; the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide, Ms Anna Wong; and the Director of Arts, Culture & Heritage for Shanghai Tang, Ms Victoria Tang-Owen, speaking at the community event LOUDER Connect.
Photo shows family office representatives sharing their insights on impact investing at the community event Shaping Legacies: Impact Investing Unveiled for Family Offices.
Photo shows a "Shark Tank" style pitch competition held during the Explore the Innovation Ocean event to empower and showcase innovative ideas from the younger generation.
Photo shows i2cool, a local start-up, winning the Startup World Cup Asia Finale. I2cool will represent Asia to compete in the global championship in San Francisco.
Photo shows Allegrow Biotech, a Hong Kong-based biotechnology company, emerging as the winner of the global pitching competition JUMPSTARTER 2023.
Photo shows an unconventional investor matching event on the Ferris Wheel at Ocean Park during the Explore the Innovation Ocean event.
Photo shows StartMeetUp at JUMPSTARTER 2023 Tech by The Harbour bringing start-ups, corporates and investors together for one-on-one business matchmaking sessions.
The Festival was honored by the attendance of senior government officials who emphasised the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government's dedication to creating a dynamic ecosystem through proactive initiatives and established funding schemes.
At the opening ceremony of Game On! 2023, the Acting Financial Secretary of the HKSAR Government, Mr Michael Wong, expressed his delight in Hong Kong's fast-growing start-up community. He said, "According to InvestHK's 2022 startup survey, we have around 4,000 start-ups employing 15,000 people, which is a new record high. We know that these numbers are continuously growing in 2023, demonstrating that Hong Kong has all the necessary elements to nurture and support start-ups."
The HKSAR Government Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry, Professor Sun Dong, further emphasised the Government's commitment to maintaining Hong Kong's long-term competitiveness in attracting global talent and supporting start-ups at the Startup World Cup (SWC) Asia Finale 2023. He stated, "Hong Kong has long been recognised as a world-class international financial centre, and we are striving to become an international innovation and technology hub, making our city an ideal destination for startups to thrive."
The Director-General of Investment Promotion at InvestHK, Ms Alpha Lau, echoed this sentiment at the Real Estate Beyond 2023. She stated, "Despite the ongoing challenges posed by macroeconomic uncertainties, Hong Kong's startup ecosystem has shown remarkable resilience and growth. Furthermore, the HKSAR Government has proactively implemented a series of strategies and policies, with an aim to attract large companies, startups, international talent, and capital to Hong Kong."
While the StartmeupHK Festival covered a diverse range of topics, including web3, healthtech, proptech, greentech, and AI, sustainability emerged as a prominent theme across all sectors.
During his keynote speech at the St. Gallen Symposium Hong Kong - GBA Forum 2023, the Chairman of Our Hong Kong Foundation, Mr Bernard Chan, emphasised the importance of companies incorporating sustainable business practices into their business models and expressed Hong Kong's openness to collaboration within the region to achieve this common goal. In a panel discussion at the same event, the Chief Development Strategist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Professor Christine Loh, pointed out the importance of understanding how family offices identify potential investments in driving capital towards sustainable businesses.
At a panel discussion during the 1.5°C Summit - The Defining Decade for Impact with Tech, speakers unanimously agreed that sustainability is not just an option but a necessity. Co-Founder/Managing Partner of Undivided Ventures Mr Alexander Bent stated that organisations must invest in socially responsible companies and address these problems to sustain themselves in the next decade.
During the Real Estate Beyond 2023 event, the Founder of Negawatt, Mr Arthur Lam, highlighted the importance of monitoring ESG impact progress and shifting focus towards sustainability for business success. On the same occasion, Associate Director (Innovation) at Sino Group Andrew Young noted that property developers in Hong Kong are under pressure to meet decarbonisation goals and are open to collaborating with proptech startups.
During a panel discussion at the Asia Health Innovation Summit, the Head of the Hong Kong Office at Insilico Medicine, Dr Frank Pun, highlighted the potential of generative AI in generating experimental data to aid patients, particularly in cases where the disease is unknown or new.
The Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer at Bitkub Capital Group Holdings, Mr Jirayut (Topp) Srupsrisopa, shed light at Game On! 2023 that web3 will be a major force in the future of Hong Kong, and the digital economy will be enormous. On the same occasion, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Animoca Brands Mr Yat Siu expressed that Hong Kong has made significant progress in nurturing innovation and technology in the past years and that he saw that the city has the potential to take on a leadership role as a global web3 hub.
The Chairman of Alibaba Group, Mr Joe Tsai, also shared his insights on the future of work and leadership in the era of AI and new technology at JUMPSTARTER 2023 Tech by The Harbour. He stated, "We have entered the 'post-GPT' era, where computers process knowledge, not just data. However, I believe that humans will excel in emotional areas. As business leaders, it is important to hire smart individuals to avoid limiting a company's potential."
In addition to the main events, the Festival also hosted various community events that sparked insightful discussions. At the LOUDER Connect, the Head of StartmeupHK at InvestHK, Ms Jayne Chan, spoke on the need to support female founders and investors, but highlighted Hong Kong's strong position for its number of female-founders. Other female startup leaders echoed that Hong Kong boasts an abundance of talent, resources, and investors from both the public and private sectors, which enable the independent nurturing and growth of female-led startups.
At another event, Shaping Legacies: Impact Investing Unveiled for Family Offices, a representative from a family office highlighted one of Hong Kong's greatest advantages: there is no expiration date for establishing family trusts in Hong Kong. The panelists also discussed the trend of impact investing, where family offices are increasingly focused on recycling their capital with a positive impact on society.
A number of scalable pitching competitions were held throughout the Festival, offering startups the opportunity to showcase their ideas and connect with like-minded individuals and potential investors. Notably, the "Shark Tank" style of pitch competition held at "Shark Mystique" during the Explore the Innovation Ocean, empowered the younger generation to showcase their innovative ideas.
Other highlights included the Startup World Cup Asia Finale, where i2cool, a green and energy-efficient service provider with passive radiative cooling technology from Hong Kong, emerged as the champion. Moreover, Allegrow Biotech, a Hong Kong-based biotechnology startup was crowned grand finale winner of JUMPSTARTER 2023 for its mission to revolutionise the healthcare landscape by bringing high-quality and cost-effective cell therapeutic products to patients.
This year's Festival went beyond traditional networking events in connecting startups and investors. Some highlights included an investor-matching on the Ferris Wheel at Explore the Innovation Ocean, as well as the "StartMeetUp" session at the JUMPSTARTER 2023 Tech by The Harbour, which offered exclusive and prearranged business matching sessions.
The StartmeupHK Festival 2023 left a lasting impact on the global startup community. This sustained momentum is expected to foster a healthy startup ecosystem in the city where groundbreaking ideas can flourish, ensuring that the spirit of entrepreneurship remains vibrant.