When you are known as the world’s freest economy for 25 straight years, you will undoubtedly become a hub for ambitious startups wishing to make their stamp on the world. In fact Hong Kong just keeps getting better as a place for startups, as there are now over 3,000 startups in Hong Kong, up 42.8% from 2017.
The most obvious reasons for this startup success would be the simple and low tax system and easy Hong Kong company registration at the intersection of the East and West. But that only tells half of the story — Hong Kong is extremely proactive and generous in its encouragement of startups. It’s no secret that startups and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) can struggle to find investment capital, so Hong Kong has a wide range of grants and support systems in place to foster innovation.
Even better, your startup company can be completely foreign owned. No matter where you are from, or what your startup dreams are, there are a range of options to help your idea flourish. We take a look at what your options are to help you find the right grants and funding for your Hong Kong startup or SME in 2020.
Networking Opportunities for Startups in Hong Kong
Your first port of call as a startup should be to start making connections with people in your industry as well as around it — and a great way to do that is through networking events. The end goal of course, is to set up business contacts, and even to acquire funding at some stage in the future.
There are quite a few of these regular networking meetings in Hong Kong, such as RISE, TiE, Startup Grind, and Jump Starter.
Startup/SME Financial Support From the Hong Kong Government
Leading by example, the Hong Kong Government has for some time been a champion of innovation, and provides substantial support for those wishing to create positive change in the world. In this case, their support comes in the form of financial assistance, and in an array of options to suit nearly every startup or SME.
Firstly is their SME Funding Schemes, that come under several banners to suit each industry sector. Areas covered include export, government loan guarantees, and trade support.
Secondly, the Hong Kong Government has a wide-reaching Innovation and Technology Fund, which covers all aspects of development focusing on innovation. Areas covered are Research and Development (R&D), facilitating technology adoption, nurturing technology talent, and supporting technology start ups.
We’d encourage you to have a look at the Invest Hong Kong website to see the full range of government financial support available to you as a startup or SME.
Related read: What are the top 5 government grants for SMEs in Hong Kong?
Startup/SME Incubators in Hong Kong
Startup/SME incubator and accelerator programmes are very much embedded in the business culture of Hong Kong — they are supported and partnered by the Hong Kong Government, corporations, educational institutes, Venture Capital (VC) firms, and charitable organisations. Let’s take a look at a few examples across the partnership spectrum.
With offices in Hong Kong, Nest is a VC firm with global reach and influence in helping startups set up to succeed. Their goal is to “empower founders worldwide with our strengths in marketing, strategy, and access to global industry networks from our headquarters in the heart of Asia – Hong Kong”.
They have a good record too, helping over 170 startups with more than US$180 million investment so far. If you’re looking for further expansion, they also have offices in Bangkok, London, Nairobi, and Bahrain.
Hong Kong Business Angel Network
Since 2010, the Hong Kong Business Angel Network (HKBAN) has connected entrepreneurs with new ideas to appropriate education institutes in Hong Kong. HKBAN provides a platform for angel investors to meet with student entrepreneurs so they can present their startup business plans.
The network includes:
- The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (POLYU)
- Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC)
- The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)
- Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity (HKVCA)
- The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
- The University of Hong Kong (HKU).
Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation
The Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation is a corporate funded foundation in conjunction with web retail giant Alibaba. There are two main arms to the foundation, the first being a HK$1 billion fund to support young Hong Kong entrepreneurs with capital and technical assistance. The second being an internship programme that provides 200 students per year work experience at the Alibaba Group as well as their affiliate companies.
If you’d like more information about VC firms and Angel Investors in Hong Kong, check out our article, The Top Venture Capital Firms and Angel Investors in Hong Kong.
Startup Crowdfunding in Hong Kong
One of the many revolutionary business benefits from the internet has been the phenomenon of crowdfunding for startups and new products. It’s a true democratisation of capital, by connecting startups, services, and products with everyday people who see a future in said startups. As opposed to say an Angel Investor, a Crowdfund can have hundreds or even thousands of investors, investing smaller amounts into a worthwhile idea. Hong Kong of course has embraced this channel with quite a few options to choose from.
SparkRaise is a crowdfunding platform that puts a focus on funding startups who aim to have a positive social impact. From their site, ‘Our focus on purpose-led organizations allows us to offer a set of resources, experience, and personalized support uniquely relevant to your financial and social impact goals.’ If you are a social entrepreneur, a non-profit, or charity, they would be a great place to start.
FringeBacker is wonderfully targeted at Hong Kong startups, operating in both Chinese and English. They actually offer more than just crowdfunding, with ‘One-Stop Integrated Ticketing, Registration, Fundraising, Donation platform in the cloud for Online Event Management’. They also work with corporate, government, and non-profit organisations to help startups reach their goals.
Next Chapter is all about business women helping other women who are starting out in business. They have a crowdfunding model, but there is also the opportunity to receive coaching and advice from successful businesswomen in Hong Kong.
Conclusion — Where to Next for Funding and Support for Your Hong Kong Startup
The best startup idea in the world is nothing if you don’t have access to the right knowledge to help it grow and flourish as a business or organisation. Beyond that of course, is getting access to the much needed funding to become the lifeblood for a startup’s growth.
Because we are Hong Kong’s premiere business incorporation service provider, we can connect you with the right people to help your startup succeed. If you’d like any advice on building your startup, please do contact us — it’s both our job and pleasure to help.
- Why is Hong Kong a good destination to start my company?
- The most obvious reasons for this would be the simple and low tax system, and easy Hong Kong company registration at the intersection of the East and West. Hong Kong is also extremely proactive and generous in its encouragement of startups, and offers a variety of grants. Even better, your startup company can be completely foreign owned.
- Which are some business networking events in Hong Kong for startups I can attend?
- A great way to make business contacts in your industry is by attending networking events. There are quite a few of these regular business networking meetings in Hong Kong, such as RISE, TiE, Startup Grind, and Jump Starter.
- What are some financial assistance schemes for startups offered by Hong Kong Government?
- Some schemes offered by the Hong Kong government for startups are the SME Funding Schemes, Innovation and Technology Fund, SME Export Marketing Fund, and Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund.
- What are some famous incubators for SMEs in Hong Kong?
- Some famous incubators available for SMEs in Hong Kong are Nest, Hong Kong Business Angel Network, Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation etc.
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