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HK has 'advantages in nurturing talent for startup ecosystem'

HONG KONG - Startups are important in an economy as they bring new services, technologies and job opportunities, and Hong Kong has advantages in nurturing talent to nourish the startup ecosystem, said Stephen Phillips, director-general of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong.

“The old saying is that ‘money makes the world go around’. But actually, the key difference these days for a startup’s success is (having) the right talent,” Phillips said, adding that competing for talent “is a global issue”, and Hong Kong universities provide an ample supply of researchers to replenish the technology and innovation sectors.

The key difference these days for a startup’s success is (having) the right talent, said Stephen Phillips, director-general of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong

There are two ways to increase highly-skilled professionals in an international trading hub, according to Phillips. One is cultivating homegrown talent, he said. “We need to encourage more young people to pursue a career in the innovation and technology sector. At the same time, we need to attract international professionals.”

“InvestHK has been playing a role to promote Hong Kong to international talent, in addition to the traditional work of appealing to foreign direct investment,” he added. InvestHK provides services for global talent in fields like advising on housing, working spaces, acquiring support from the Hong Kong government funding programs, and assistance with identifying incubation programs.

Jayne Chan, head of StartmeupHK — an initiative by InvestHK, said that “Talent is a fundamental part of developing a startup ecosystem, and talent often starts at universities.” Hong Kong universities have set up several entrepreneurship and startup support programs to extend the city’s talent pool, she said.

In 2021, five academies from Hong Kong – the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, City University and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, were listed within the world’s top 100 universities, according to QS World University Rankings. Some of them have research strengths in engineering, computer science and physics, which are major growth engines for startups.

Among the universities’ programs, the University of Hong Kong offers HK$100,000 ($12,740) funding for each eligible innovation project under iDendron to help students’ turn their ideas into reality. City University established HK Tech 300, aiming to create 300 startups within three years, to encourage students and its employees to launch startups.

The number of startups in Hong Kong has more than doubled during the past seven years, from 1,558 in 2015 to 3,755 in 2021, according to a survey conducted by InvestHK, the Hong Kong government’s direct investment promotion agency. The number of staff employed in startups reached 13,804 last year, representing a 118 percent increase from 2017.


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