A new resource and training centre in Lai Chi Kok will help local entrepreneurs compete with mainland and foreign start-ups.
The private-sector initiative, called the SME Creativity Centre, was launched on Monday to help small and medium enterprises move out of their comfort zones to seek new pastures.
Gino Yu, a professor at the Polytechnic University’s school of design, said: “People from the mainland are hungrier to expand to different markets and go online, while local businesses are often satisfied with doing what they’ve been doing for years.”
Yu is a co-founder of the centre along with private investors RGL Holdings, which provides support services to start-ups through its subsidiary, Hong Kong Commons.
SMEs in Hong Kong are defined as companies with fewer than 100 employees. In the last decade, the government has invested more resources to help such enterprises, and established the consultation drop-in centre Success in 2001 under the Trade and Industry Department.
But local entrepreneurs say support should not come from the government alone. “Entrepreneurs need to be supported and led by other entrepreneurs because the government won’t be able to truly understand what entrepreneurs need,” said Simon Squibb, who runs Nest, which nurtures start-ups.
Still, the Creativity Centre founders think businesses can make use of government funds. Yu and RGL received HK$2 million from the department to start the centre.
“Perhaps an organisation that is led by folks with a successful track record in starting and building SMEs and focused on integrating, exposing and connecting the broader community is worth trying,” RGL managing director Jong Lee said.
The first event the centre organised was TEDx, where international entrepreneurs spoke last month.