“The rewards from winning the championship of the StartmeupHK competition are invaluable, beyond any monetary estimate. “

Dr David Hanson, founder and president, Hanson Robotics 

US-based Hanson Robotics, a Grand Winner of last year’s StartmeupHK Venture Programme, recently set up in Hong Kong where its founder Dr David Hanson is intent on building  lifelike robots

Dr David Hanson, a renowned roboticist and founder of Hanson Robotics, is determined to develop human-like robots with realistic facial expressions and conversational abilities. Since 2005, Hanson has resurrected the talking head of sci-fi writer Philip K Dick, and created an expressive walking humanoid from a portrait of Albert Einstein. His latest work is the Dmitry Avatar – an exact robotic replica of the head of Dmitry Itskov, founder of the 2045 Initiative and Global Future 2045 congress.

To advance to the next stage of producing humanoid robots for daily applications in entertainment, healthcare and education, Hanson movedhis company to Hong Kong where he sees great potential to further develop his robotics venture. “The geographic location, the intersection of so many cultures and so many distribution channels, the design and manufacturing techniques in Hong Kong are exceptional. The ways of managing finances are also unparalleled,” Hanson said.

StartmeupHK Offers Fast Track to Hong Kong

When considering his relocation to Hong Kong in 2013, Hanson found the StartmeupHK Venture Programme – a global business plan competition organised by InvestHK for high-impact, innovative and scalable startups that aim to expand their businesses globally from Hong Kong. Hanson was selected by a panel of professional judges and voting audience onsite as one of three Grand Award Winners.

The benefits of winning the StartmeupHK Venture Programme enabled Hanson Robotics to set up efficiently and smoothly in Hong Kong, and with the full support of InvestHK, business networking was made even easier. In May 2014, through its Investment Promotion Ambassador Programme, InvestHK introduced Hanson Robotics to Ocean Park to present its founder’s plan to create animatronic robots for theme parks.

“I strongly recommend entrepreneurs or innovators to consider the StartmeupHK programme for several reasons. The programme itself simply connects you with so many opportunities for investors to provide feedback and critique for your business. And then if you win, you will open many additional doors. The rewards from winning the championship of the StartmeupHK competition are invaluable, beyond any monetary estimate,” he concluded.

Hong Kong as Robotics Hub

Hanson Robotics plans to make human-sized robots in Hong Kong. Hanson explained that with Hong Kong’s long history in toy making and its links to Mainland China suppliers, he can get robots to market quicker and at more affordable prices.

Hanson is also keen to develop a robotics hub in Hong Kong. With some of his key collaborators, including leading robotic scientist Mark Tilden and artificial intelligence scientist Ben Goertzel, already based in Hong Kong, Hanson is confident that the robotics community in the city can take a huge leap forward. A growing number of robotic companies, including Hanson Robotics, are now based in the Hong Kong Science Park and as a result, the Park plans to set up a new robotics laboratory to support research and development in the field.

Fast Facts: Hanson Robotics

  • Founded by American robotics scientist, Dr David Hanson, in 2003
  • Aims to create robots as socially adept as human beings
  • Beat Google Glass and won the World Technology Awards in the IT Hardware Category in 2013
  • Relocated its headquarters to Hong Kong in 2014