|The SME Creativity Centre,
set up to promote creativity among Hong Kong’s SMEs and start-ups, provides free workshops and
clinics, as well as a variety of SME-related resources
When the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) established the One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition in 2011, the university was trying to promote one of the cornerstones of Hong Kong business: entrepreneurship. Now in its third year, the competition featured 12 finalists, their concepts ranged from improving taxi service in Hong Kong to accelerating the use of solar technology. They were selected from 85 entries, with the winning business plan to be decided later this month.
“We have entered into a new era where entrepreneurship is the locomotive of the economies,” said Professor Ali Beba, Chair of the competition and the Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre at HKUST. “As of September 2012, there were about 300,000 SMEs in Hong Kong, and they accounted for over 98 per cent of the total business units and provided job opportunities for over 1.2 million people, which is about 47 per cent of total employment.”
|Professor Ali Beba,
Chair of the One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition and the Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre at the Hong Kong University of Science
The competition, which seeks to combine science, technology, entrepreneurship and business management with the interdisciplinary nature of the competition, has led to several successful start-ups, including last year’s winner, RFID company Neoid, and 2011 finalist iFlight Technology, which designs and manufactures unmanned aerial vehicle helicopters.
Dr Beba is particularly pleased that previous competition winners, “whose companies have continued to expand and excel in the market, are having such business success that they became our sponsors this year.”
The networks created among entrepreneurs is one of the hallmarks of Hong Kong’s SME community, according to Anthony Behan, co-chair of the Entrepreneur and Small Business Committee at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong for the past three years.
“From my experience, and the experience of our committee members, the ability to form your own entrepreneurial community where you can share experiences and challenges is the most important support of all,” Mr Behan said.
This support takes on many forms, including successful entrepreneurs sharing their personal experiences, and Hong Kong’s unique environment, which makes starting out easy.
|The Entrepreneur and Small Business Committee at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong has been one of the Chamber’s most popular initiatives|
“From my experience, it is very easy to start a small business in Hong Kong,” said Mr Behan, Managing Director of The Communication Group. “The infrastructure is very open and it is very easy and affordable to set up a company. For example, registering a business normally can be done in less than an hour.”
Mr Behan adds that Hong Kong has several programmes that entrepreneurs can take advantage of. In the case of technology entrepreneurs, Mr Behan points to initiatives in place to help develop their business, while keeping overhead low.
Technology start-ups can take advantage of the incubation programme offered by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation. It offers practical support and funding, along with access to laboratory equipment at low cost, and mentor support through seminars, advice and introductions.
Focusing on creativity and innovation, the SME Creativity Centre was established to promote creativity among Hong Kong’s SMEs and start-ups. The centre’s activities include free workshops and clinics, as well as a variety of SME-related resources. In June, the centre will be involved with TEDx Hong Kong, in a presentation called “School’s Out,” focusing on education from an unconventional perspective.
“We see SMEs and start-ups as drivers of innovation,” said Josiah Wang, the SME Creativity Centre’s Project Manager.
But while SMEs form the backbone of Hong Kong’s economy, Mr Wang believes that SMEs face the challenge of declining competitiveness.
“We believe that the majority of Hong Kong SMEs are still operating in a traditional manner,” Mr Wang said. “We see leaps and bounds in supply chain efficiency over the past decade, but very little attention has been given to innovation and value-creating. We believe that a shift in focus from cost-cutting to value creation is key not only to Hong Kong’s SME economy, but the Hong Kong economy in general.”
While Dr Beba said that he had seen a shift in competition entries from physical products to software development and applications, he still sees gaps in the market in many sectors, including nano-technology, smart building and green energy sectors. He added that there’s more room for sustainable businesses.
“I believe that existing infrastructure, academic standing and economic wealth in Hong Kong provide an excellent environment for producing sustainable social businesses that provide great positive social impact for the region and the world.”
– See more at: http://www.hktdc.com/info/mi/a/hkti/en/1X09T0CO/1/Hong-Kong-Trader-International-Edition/Inspiring-Entrepreneurship.htm#sthash.LZr9Fnh9.dpuf