Start-ups come in all shapes and sizes and operate across every conceivable industry, and so have a plethora of needs to take themselves forward. Surveys conducted among entrepreneurs show they do indeed have some common needs, including streamlined financing and business management consulting services.
In order to support innovation in Hong Kong and build a sustainable ecosystem in which local companies can thrive, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and Hang Seng Bank held a signing ceremony earlier this month for a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cooperation. The MOU aims to co-create a one-stop platform that puts start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a stronger position to seize business opportunities in Hong Kong and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA).
The partnership will see the development of the InnoClub platform that combines both parties’ respective business networks, digital and financing solutions, advisory expertise and research capabilities to help start-ups and SMEs operating in Hong Kong and the GBA in all sectors to digitalise their operations and adopt innovative business solutions.
Hang Seng Bank said InnoClub had three main focus areas. First, the platform will offer bespoke banking services and financing solutions for SMEs to scale up their business. Hang Seng said it will offer one-stop customised banking services – including priority account services, business loans and various digital services – to support SMEs in adopting innovation solutions. The Bank’s InnoTech Fund financing solution, with a pool of US$200 million, is available to provide financial support to InnoClub members for innovation development. More solutions to meet the financing needs of enterprises at different business stages are in the pipeline for 2022. As a partner in the HKTDC’s entrepreneur mentorship programme, Start-up Express, Hang Seng will also join the HKTDC’s investor network and explore strategic equity investment opportunities to support local enterprises.
The InnoClub platform will also facilitate networking and offer business advisory services. The partners will co-host innovation development workshops, seminars, and business-matching events for SMEs. The HKTDC will also extend its “Enterprise Connect” platform to InnoClub members, helping them reach out to potential business partners and investors via the platform’s extended innovation network and exclusive workshops. Hang Seng will also provide business advisory and consulting services to SMEs to help them optimise their strategy for business transformation and growth, as well as co-developing business models to help them capture new business opportunities.
InnoClub’s third service will be providing proprietary market research and insights. Hang Seng and the HKTDC will co-conduct proprietary research with selected innovation companies to identify market insights on a broad range of innovation-related topics. The research findings will be made available to SMEs and the general public to inspire them in developing innovative ideas and business solutions.
Following the MOU signing, Dr Patrick Lau, Deputy Executive Director of the HKTDC (main picture, centre left), said: “The HKTDC has been introducing various measures to help companies upgrade and transform, and enhance their competitiveness through the application of technology. We have also organised exhibitions and events to help start-ups expand their business networks and find new opportunities. Now the HKTDC is cooperating with Hang Seng Bank to further support Hong Kong’s innovation and technology development in different areas. We believe this collaboration will help promote the overall development of Hong Kong’s innovation and technology ecosystem and strengthen the competitiveness of local firms.”
Donald Lam, Head of Commercial Banking at Hang Seng Bank (main picture, centre right), said: “As a long-time trusted partner of local SMEs, Hang Seng is committed to supporting enterprises that are seeking to transform their business through the adoption of innovative solutions. Hang Seng is delighted to have teamed up with HKTDC to drive greater innovation in Hong Kong and help SMEs to capture more business opportunities. This new partnership will help drive innovation activities in Hong Kong and contribute to greater digitalisation of businesses across all industry sectors.”
The MOU signing came as the HKTDC organised three expos and a forum through online streaming platforms last week. The three events, namely HKTDC Entrepreneur Day (E-day), the Business of IP Asia Forum (BIP Asia Forum) and the HKTDC SmartBiz Expo, covered topics ranging from driving innovation through intellectual property and sustainable development to entrepreneurship and business know-how, offering both theoretical and practical insights to help businesses address challenges worldwide. The three events attracted some 26,000 participants from around the world.