HK a ‘ hot spot for startups’, trade office director says
Subrina Chow, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco, was celebrating more than just the Year of the Horse at the organization’s annual spring dinner reception. She was also rejoicing in Hong Kong’s growing appeal to entrepreneurs.
Watching Chinese lions dance and eating dim sum, more than 300 Bay Area business leaders, academics and government officials celebrated the new year at the trade office’s annual dinner.
“In 2013, many Bay Area organizations partnered with the office in organization major business and arts events to promote Hong Kong’s innovation, technology and creative industries,” Chow said. “With the number of incubators and co-work spaces growing five times over the last four years, Hong Kong is now one of the hot spots for global startups.”
As director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco, Chow represents the Hong Kong special administrative region government in fostering economic ties between Hong Kong and 19 states in the western US. Her office provides information and support to businesses in the region looking to establish or expand their presence in Hong Kong as well as those interested in entering the Chinese Mainland and other Asian markets via Hong Kong.
E nt r e p r e n e u r s are increasingly coming to San Francisco to expand their business in the Asia Pacific region, Chow said. As a result, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation has been home to around 440 companies, 70 percent of which are engaged in research and development, Chow said. The park is 96 percent occupied.
In the coming months, the park will make available 600,000 square feet of premium quality R&D space. A park delegation visited San Francisco Bay Area last month to lure more international innovators to the area, Chow said.
Hong Kong has endured the global economic gyrations of the past few years fairly well, with GDP growth for 2013 forecast at 3 percent, Chow said. US-Hong Kong trade ties also have remained strong, she said. From Januar y through November, US exports to Hong Kong reached nearly $39 billion, up 17.5 percent from the same period a year earlier.
In the Year of Horse, the office will continue to foster partnerships with organizations in Northern California and look for opportunities for the Bay Area and Hong Kong to exchange experience and expertise, she said. For example, the office will join CAAMFest, known before last year as the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, as a sponsor next month for the first time. The Way We Dance, a film supported by the Hong Kong Development Fund, and Beautiful 2013, a production commissioned by the Hong Kong International Film Festival, will be shown at the festival.
Nicholas Unkovic, a partner with the Squire Sanders (US) LLP legal firm, said Hong Kong “continues to be an important gateway or launching pad for Chinese businesses going abroad, as well as a point of entry for overseas companies” moving to Asia.
“The growth we are seeing is more related to outbound investments by mainland Chinese companies, especially in real estate and high tech,” Unkovic said.
The firm’s Chinese clients are selective and realistic about their acquisition targets, rather than seeking trophy buys, he said. “It’s a very active area of mergers and acquisitions for us.”
William Fuller, President Emeritus of the Asian Foundation (left) chats with Subrina Chow, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco, at the Spring Reception of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco on Wednesday.