‘Waking up’ to the big tech march
Cyberport chief Lee George Lam tells HK’s young entrepreneurs mustn’t miss the boat as the city forges ahead to be Asia’s tech capital.
Hailed as a dynamic hub for global finance, Hong Kong has long jostled with cities like Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, New York and London for the crown in the traditional financial industries.
A new race is now underway — to embrace innovations of financial technology (fintech), which is set to be the next big thing in reshaping our world.
Despite its impeccable strength in finance, Hong Kong is still striving to build up its reputation as a worldrenowned innovation center in its quest for a combined advantage in the realm of fintech.
Cyberport — a digital community for tech startups to grow and thrive — is on track to bolster the city’s goal to be a magnet for budding tech enterprises worldwide.
Since its inception more than 15 years ago, Cyberport — one of the Hong Kong government’s twin initiatives to boost technology and innovation — has moved in line with the city’s vision to diversify the local economy away from its reliance on real estate and financial services.
Today, it fits in well with a big trend of the innovationdriven “new economy” — a buzzword for what’s expected to be the territory’s next growth engine.
As a firm believer in Hong Kong’s competitive edge in digital technolog y, Dr L ee George Lam, chairman of Cyberport, is pinning high hopes on Hong Kong gaining “tremendous momentum” from the “era of the new economy”.
“Hong Kong is leading the world when it comes to digital connections. We’re connected totally to the world. We’re well connected in terms of landbased cables and satellite systems. Our internet data center is well managed. Our security record and standards, known for a staggering 99.99-percent track record of power sup- ply security, are topping the world as well,” he says.
“Overall, Hong Kong’s status as a global information and communication technology (ICT) hub is clearly unquestionable. For such a tiny place, we have already been the No 1 worldwide in terms of ICT infrastructure development a good five or six years ago.”
Lam, who took the helm at Cyberport in May last year, believes Hong Kong has what it takes to sharpen its edge as a big data center along the Belt and Road (B&R) route.
The B&R Initiative is more than a massive trade and infrastructure plan to revive the ancient trade route of the world’s second-largest economy. When people talk about a huge ribbon of infrastructure projects on the table or ready for construction along the “physical” Silk Road, a “Data Silk Road” also spells potentially huge opportunities for those with the foresight to jump on the bandwagon, he notes.
As Hong Kong seeks to ride high on the undertakings and goals of the B&R strategy in the year marking the 20th anniversary of the city’s return to the motherland, its potentials as an information hub, where multinationals and Chinese mainland firms feel both comfortable and safe to put their data, should never be underestimated, he reckons.
Such potentials are underpinned by Hong Kong’s geographical proximity with the mainland, whose digital economy, with its sheer size and head-spinning speed of change, stands as the inarguable global trailblazer.
“We’r e v e r y l u c ky t o b e located next to the mainland market, where tech startups can be subject to the most stringent test. If you can succeed on the Chinese mainland, you can essentially succeed in the world,” Lam believes.
Nowadays, the buzzing startup scene in Hong Kong and at Cyberport continues to produce a dazzling array of success stories showcasing the city’s determination to cement its role as Asia’s tech capital.
Lynk — a data-driven and knowledge-sharing platform linking enterprises and experts from a wide range of fields — testifies to that success.
The home-grown startup, hailed as the poster child of Hong Kong’s startup boom by Lam and a beacon of hope for the territor y in realiz- ing its “unicorn” dream, is the very first investee of the HK$200-million Cyberport Macro Fund launched by former chief executive Leung Chun-ying in his 2016 Policy Address with the goal of helping startups fill the funding gap.
For young entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, Lam points out, it always matters to think and act globally, scaling greener pastures overseas rather than glued to the paltry local mar- ket. “Lynk stands as a good example of going global right away. Its founder and CEO Pegg y Choi, just like many promising entrepreneurs we see at Cyberport, didn’t just wait there to get some funding and milestones. She immediately set her sights on the mainland marke t and the B&R.”
Hong Kong’s young generation, he urges, should spare no time in engaging themselves in the new economy and the B&R, which are the golden opportunities they should
CAPITAL IDEAS: PETER LIANG
never miss out on. “In the midst of the new economy, there’s no border. You have to think and act globally early. Hong Kong youths should have their eyes trained on the (Guangdong-Hong KongMacao) Greater Bay Area, the Silk Road and the world, rather than just think about Central and Causeway Bay.”
“We are just waking up our young people,” Lam says.
In April, Cyberport unveiled its three-year strategic plan to groom local digital entrepreneurs. The management team is betting big on raising the number of companies in the Cyberport community from the current 900 to 1,200 over the next two to three years. But Lam believes they could “add more than that”.
“Looking ahead, I hope Cyberport is not only an incubator, it’s also a user-friendly, entrepreneur-friendly and world-class ecosystem to help young talents make their mark.”