The information technology revolution continues to transform our lives, and IT is now at the heart of every area of business. Underlining this trend, the entrepreneurs making their pitches for one of Hong Kong’s leading start-up development programmes came from a very wide range of tech-focused sectors.
Selection for the fifth edition of the Start-up Express entrepreneurship development programme, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), wrapped up last week with the live-streamed Pitching Final, where 20 shortlisted companies made their cases to be among the 10 winning start-ups.
The “My Favourite Start-up Award”, decided through live online polling, went to Good Food Technologies, while the newly added ESG (environmental, social and governance) Award went to i2Cool in recognition of its sustainable and socially efficient business solution. The 10 winning teams will participate in local and international events to develop their businesses by building connections, exploring markets, seeking partners and enhancing brand awareness.
Stephen Liang, HKTDC Assistant Executive Director, said: “As the pandemic situation gradually begins to ease, innovative business models and ideas will become a new stimulus for the economy in post-pandemic times. The enrolment for Start-up Express 2022 reflected the great enthusiasm of Hong Kong’s entrepreneurs, with 20 shortlisted start-ups coming from a broader spectrum of fields than ever before, including arts tech, green tech, health tech, prop tech, fintech, smart city tech, edtech, food tech and others.
“Over the past four years, the programme has nurtured 40 start-ups and the HKTDC continues to pass on the spirit of entrepreneurship in Hong Kong, assisting local start-ups in growing their businesses to the next level. At the same time, we strive to create a sustainable and international entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Pitching Final contestants presented innovative business ideas and responded to questions from the distinguished panel of judges as well as the online audience. This year’s panel comprised Raymond Yung, Vice Chairman, AMTD Group; Jason Chiu, Chairman, Hong Kong Start-up Council; Andrew Young, Associate Director (Innovation), Sino Group; Ben Cheng, Managing Partner, C Ventures; and Arshad Chowdhury, Managing Partner, Betatron Venture Group. The 10 winning start-ups were Allklear Health, Beth Bioinformatics, Calioo Technologies, Custonomy Company, EggLogics, Flow, Good Food Technologies, i2Cool, MixCare Health and PONS.ai. The HKTDC will arrange a series of exposure opportunities through which the winning teams can interact with buyers and investors.
AMTD Group was the exclusive Strategic Partner of Start-up Express for the fourth consecutive year. Calvin Choi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AMTD Group and Founder of AMTD IDEA, said all contestants presented extraordinary business ideas. “The wide range of start-ups participating in this year’s Pitching Final continue to innovate and develop in a more diverse and contemporary way. In particular, we saw more start-ups coming from art tech, food tech and other emerging areas this year, which shows that local start-ups are market-sensitive, quick to respond to the direction and dynamics of emerging industries, as well as reactive to rising trends and fads of the times,” Mr Choi said.
Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic had affected businesses across many sectors, he added: “It is encouraging to see Hong Kong start-ups remaining active despite the difficulties and on the lookout for opportunities under the new normal. Government policies and the social environment have been very supportive of start-ups, too. I am confident that if local start-ups can continue their efforts, stay flexible and be determined to find unique opportunities in the new normal, they can definitely stand out from their competitors in an ever-changing business environment and find a sustainable way forward.”
The “SpiderNet Start-up Award”, established to recognise the top performer selected by AMTD in the Pitching Final, was awarded to EggLogics. The award aims to provide the winner with an exclusive opportunity to access the resources and network of the AMTD SpiderNet ecosystem. EggLogics’ win will boost the company’s business development and help it create synergies with other entrepreneurs within the ecosystem.
Jason Chiu, Chairman of the Hong Kong Start-up Council and a member of this year’s judging panel, said: “There was tremendous competition in this year’s contest. All the start-up teams used their innovative mindsets to deliver exceptional pitches and shone through, highlighting the fact that local tech talents are extremely capable. I am confident that Start-up Express will serve as a springboard for the winning teams to access more opportunities. They can leverage this platform to expand their business network, explore markets in Mainland China, especially the Greater Bay Area, and overseas, and take their business to the next level.”
Start-up Express provides start-ups with the chance to promote their business ideas and enhance their brand awareness while connecting with investors and industry leaders, as well as acquiring business know-how from industry experts.
Calvin Cheng, founder and CEO of Wizpresso, which was a winner in the 2021 Start-up Express, said: “With the assistance provided by the HKTDC, we gained a lot of exposure that helped greatly with our brand promotion. We also had the chance to participate in international trade fairs to connect with potential clients. These are the kind of valuable opportunities open to Start-up Express winners.”
Logistics platform Zeek, another winning team at last year’s Pitching Final, has successfully established a presence in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and other markets. KK Chiu, CEO of Zeek, said the company was able to grow its business connections by meeting different businesses through HKTDC-organised local and overseas events. Zeek also gained the opportunity to promote its brand to other local and international businesses.
The HKTDC has always fully supported Hong Kong’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, helping to maintain the city’s status as a competitive business centre and hub for innovation.
Celebrating the fifth anniversary of Start-up Express, the first International Edition of the contest will be held in December this year as part of HKTDC Entrepreneur Day. Winning teams from Hong Kong will compete with outstanding start-ups from Mainland China, the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Singapore and other countries and regions. International Edition winners will be offered comprehensive assistance to enter the Hong Kong market and explore opportunities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area via the Hong Kong platform.
Start-up Express website