HK must strive to be some­thing spe­cial and aim for the gold

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG -

In re­cent years, Hong Kong has been talk­ing a lot about in­no­va­tion. Politi­cians and busi­ness lead­ers have been telling us we’re fall­ing way be­hind our re­gional com­peti­tors in in­no­va­tion and its “twin brother”, cre­ativ­ity. In re­sponse, the gov­ern­ment has es­tab­lished a new agency to pro­mote in­no­va­tion and en­trepreneur­ship.

Some­times, the move­ment is called “re-in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion” which seems to res­onate bet­ter with the older gen­er­a­tion who can still re­mem­ber that their city was once a man­u­fac­tur­ing pow­er­house in the re­gion.

Hong Kong en­trepreneurs have long given up the strug­gle to build some­thing cheaper than their com­peti­tors or in­cre­men­tally climb the value add lad­der. They have found it much more cost ef­fec­tive just to move their man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions to Shen­zhen, while con­cen­trat­ing on mak­ing money in fi­nance and prop­erty in­vest­ment.

The new gen­er­a­tion en­trepreneurs with the am­bi­tion to re-in­dus­tri­al­ize Hong Kong are asked to make some­thing new like their coun­ter­parts in Shen­zhen, Seoul or Sin­ga­pore. In this race, Hong Kong is clearly hob­bled by a myr­iad of fac­tors, in­clud­ing high land prices, short­age of skilled work­ers and, more im­por­tantly, a lack of sup­port­ing in­dus­tries, such as mold­ing, foundry and ma­chin­ing.

To over­come these dis­ad­van­tages, Hong Kong en­trepreneurs will have to look be­yond catch­ing up with its re­gional ri­vals who are not all that in­no­va­tive any­way. The drones that are of­ten cited to show­case Shen­zhen’s in­no­va­tion are cer­tainly ca­pa­ble. But they are not known to be able to do some­thing so spe­cial that will leave their com­peti­tors in the dust.

If Hong Kong en­trepreneurs are re­ally se­ri­ous about look­ing for a model to help shape their busi­ness phi­los­o­phy and strat­egy, they should look no fur­ther than Ama­zon — the undis­puted in­no­va­tive leader in the global e-com­merce mar­ket­place. At a time when even such tech giants as Ap­ple and Mi­crosoft are seen to be slack­ing, Ama­zon has con­tin­ued to wow fans and con­found doubters by com­ing out with in­no­va­tive ser­vices that an­tic­i­pate rather than merely meet­ing the ex­pec­ta­tions of con­sumers in the many coun­tries where it op­er­ates.

The key­word that ex­plains Ama­zon’s suc­cess is “an­tic­i­pa­tory” which dis­tin­guishes the com­pany from most other e-com­merce op­er­a­tors around the world. That’s the word that Hong Kong en­trepreneurs should keep in mind in their en­deavor to rein­dus­tri­al­ize the city.

Let the oth­ers crow about their lit­tle achievements while we go for the gold.


Hong Kong en­trepreneurs should look for a model to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves from re­gional ri­vals rather than merely cut­ting costs when it comes to the city’s re-in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion, and with an eye on long-term de­vel­op­ment.

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