Trust goes a long way

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG - By FRAN­NIE GUAN in Hong Kong fran­nie@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

our role is like an adap­tor … we are the hub for many things. But for us to be good hubs, we need to understand what our role first is,” said C. K. Cho, sec­re­tary gen­eral of In­votech, a do-tank ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing Hong Kong through in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy.

“There are great op­por­tu­ni­ties, but we need to let the en­trepreneurs know more about how they can par­tic­i­pate,” ex­plained Cho.

Lam said one chal­lenge fac­ing many star­tups in Hong Kong was the lack of a suit­able plat­form and chan­nel to present their tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion to the world.

By way of com­par­i­son, he re­called that last year he went on a busi­ness trip to Thai­land, on a tour or­ga­nized by the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment and on the in­vi­ta­tion of his Aus­tralian busi­ness part­ner.

He then had the chance to present his com­pany’s prod­ucts to the pres­i­dent of the Thai na­tional power com­pany, a large po­ten­tial cus­tomer for his pre-warn­ing sys­tem.

“The Hong Kong gov­ern­ment has so far never ar­ranged such tours,” said Lam.

“Since Hong Kong is part of China, if we can have more chances to demon­strate Hong Kong’s tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions to ‘Belt and Road’ coun­tries through gov­ern­ment bases, that will help a lot to im­prove the startup ecosys­tem in Hong Kong,” Lam sug­gested.

Con­tact the writer at fran­nie@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Gov­ern­ment sup­port is a stick­ing point for sev­eral star­tups. Some fledg­ing lo­cal com­pa­nies may spend years de­vel­op­ing in­no­va­tive prod­ucts only to find that the gov­ern­ment trusts big in­ter­na­tional names more than lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers.

“With all th­ese projects in­volv­ing in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion in Hong Kong such as the third runway and smart city in Kowloon East, how many are from Hong Kong in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies in­stead of over­seas big com­pa­nies?” asked Matthew Lam, CEO of Op­ti­cal Sens­ing Ltd. He be­lieves that to fur­ther im­prove the ecosys­tem for Hong Kong star­tups, a well-planned gov­ern­ment pi­lot trial pro­gram for lo­cal in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies should be es­tab­lished.

Ben­jamin Tse, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor of lo­cal IT so­lu­tions com­pany OceanX Tech­nol­ogy Ltd, said the rea­son why the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment tended to pre­fer in­ter­na­tional big com­pa­nies was that they have been in use in Hong Kong for a long time and also that th­ese big cor­po­rate houses usu­ally have good in­ter­na­tional ref­er­ences.

But he pointed out that a lack of in­ter­na­tional ref­er­ences should not be an ex­cuse for the gov­ern­ment to re­ject lo­cal projects. He said coun­tries ded­i­cated to de­vel­op­ing their tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion in­dus­try, such as Sin­ga­pore, all had gov­ern­ment pi­lot trial pro­grams for home­grown in­no­va­tive star­tups. “As a re­sult, our gov­ern­ment is spend­ing money to sup­port over­seas com­pa­nies, but not lo­cal en­ter­prises,” said Tse.

Sin­ga­pore be­lieves it has the unique op­por­tu­nity to be­come the world’s first “smart” na­tion. To achieve this na­tional blueprint, it has un­veiled sev­eral pi­lot trial schemes at des­ig­nated res­i­den­tial-busi­ness es­tates.

For ex­am­ple, to make its Jurong Lake Dis­trict smart and sus­tain­able, sev­eral tri­als have been de­ployed since 2014, in­volv­ing more than 20 star­tups and com­pa­nies and also gov­ern­ment de­part­ments.

“When we go to the over­seas mar­ket and try to pro­mote our in­no­va­tive prod­ucts, they will of­ten ask us since our prod­ucts are so good, why is our gov­ern­ment not us­ing them?” Lam said. “It is a very em­bar­rass­ing ques­tion.”

Tse said get­ting cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for good track records from the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment would build up the con­fi­dence of Hong Kong star­tups to tap into the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.

“For star­tups, ev­ery penny is im­por­tant,” said Tse. “Gov­ern­ment or­ders placed with lo­cal star­tups can not only help relieve their fi­nan­cial bur­den but, more im­por­tantly, can show the world that Hong Kong boasts good tech­no­log­i­cal prod­ucts.”

Ben­jamin Tse, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor of OceanX Tech­nol­ogy Ltd The web­site of Op­ti­cal Sens­ing Ltd, which has buy­ers as far afield as Tai­wan and In­done­sia, spells out its ex­per­tise in Dis­trib­uted Tem­per­a­ture Sens­ing sys­tems.

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