Define What’s Next
The StartmeupHK Festival 2019 was an action-packed week of events that drew over 17,000 delegates and more than 300 speakers and 400 exhibitors, from around the world, to share ideas, make connections and define the trends and technologies of the future. Bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders across sectors, it reinforced Hong Kong’s unique position as Asia’s most dynamic startup destination. Besides the seven core events detailed below, the Festival included a diverse range of community events such as job fairs, startup showcases, networking events and workshops, held across multiple venues in the city.
Transforming healthcare through technology
Healthtech is a major priority for Hong Kong, and the sector received financial support worth USD 10 billion from the government last year. The Healthtech O2O summit hosted by Nexchange brought together policy-makers, healthcare industry giants and startups across sectors ranging from life science and medical devices to insurance and blockchain, to share insights and predictions related to the future of health.
Speakers included Dr. NT Cheung, Chief Medical Informatics Officer, Hospital Authority who showcased how HA are leveraging innovative technology to engage further with patients as, “patient engagement can do more for healthcare than any other invention”. Celina Chew, President, Bayer Greater China and Eugene Borukhovich, Global Head of Digital Health (G4A), Bayer spoke about Bayer’s work in the area of digital therapeutics and how the company works with startups in its G4A programme, in what Ms. Chew described as “David and Goliath in warm embrace.” The day’s events included keynotes, panel discussions and pitches, covering innovations across public health, insurtech, robo-medicine and biotech, among others.
Lifestyle innovations redefining
how we live, work and play
Hosted by Startup Launchpad and The Mills Fabrica, the day-long Tech[LIFE]style Conference focused on three major themes: Living Smarter that looked at how digital technologies were enhancing day-to-day living; Living Better to showcase the impact technology can make for the better; and Future Lifestyle Tech that discussed how future generations will consume technology and how to build a brand that resonates with them.
The diverse innovations explored ranged from facial recognition and language translation to design thinking and the sharing economy, with AI playing a prominent role across the board. The rapid pace of change in some of these areas was illustrated by Xu Bing, co-founder of Hong Kong based unicorn SenseTime, who predicted that “keys will no longer exist in 4-5 years,” because facial recognition technology will have replaced them.
A unique springboard for startups in Hong Kong
The two-day 9,500+ attendee JUMPSTARTER event hosted by Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund was an exciting, energetic kaleidoscope of activities whose primary aim was to connect startups with investors, corporates and industry. Prior to the event AEF launched a startup competition in categories ranging from smart city and fintech to advanced materials and retail. 200 startups – 100 local and 100 international teams- were selected to be showcased at the event.
In addition to the startup pitches, the event featured keynotes, panel discussions, demos, workshops and business showcases. Speakers included Joe Tsai, Co-Founder and Executive Vice-Chairman of Alibaba Group who suggested that entrepreneurs should focus on solving real problems as opposed to looking at technology and see how that could be applied, and pioneers like Dr. Wang Jian, Chairman of Alibaba Group Technology Committee and Founder of Alibaba Cloud, who highlighted the importance of vision in the startup journey, saying “You (need to) have your own view of what the future world should be like, and believe that you can make it happen. Our vision at that time (at the outset) was that computing should be delivered through internet, and that’s how we started Alibaba Cloud.”
The winners of the global competition for best startup, which received over 600 applications, were Hong Kong’s ASA Innovation, for Airluna, their nanotechnology based air-purifier lamp.
Retail’s Cutting Edge
Revolutionising the future of buying
Retail is booming in Hong Kong, with the first ten months of 2018 registering a 10% growth in revenue. Retail’s Cutting Edge hosted by Inside Retail, for the third year running at the StartmeupHK Festival, featured experienced retail presenters and emerging players, proven leaders and disruptors. They discussed a variety of topics including new technologies reshaping the customer experience, the seamless merger of buying channels, new retail models, blockchain as a solution to product authenticity challenges and supply chain streamlining to name just a few.
An exciting announcement was made at the event by Jose Blanco, VP Asian Markets for GUESS who, working together with Alibaba Group, will pioneer the first AI concept store in Hong Kong. Discussing the trend in new retail, Pascal Martin, Partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, talked about how “the online giants are investing in traditional retailers, transforming them into hybrid models”; however he also underlined the importance of putting the customer centre-stage, cautioning that “If you don’t think consumer first, you are likely to be influenced by people who are just selling technology to you.”
The Connected Cities Conference
The next generation of city living
As one of the world’s most forward-thinking and dynamic cities, The Connected Cities Conference hosted by KPMG had particular relevance to Hong Kong. The event marked the release of KPMG’s new and wide-ranging The Connected Cities Report. The day-long conference explored a host of topics related to the future of cities, including sustainability, air pollution, land availability challenges, changing demographics and workforce development, and touched upon a variety of sectors from automotive to telecommunications, examining the commercial, social and environmental benefits as well as their costs.
Dr. David Chung, Under Secretary for Innovation and Technology, stressed the importance of STEM education in HK primary schools, explaining that “to make HK a smarter city we need a smarter workforce”, and Lee Kyong-yul, Secretary General, The Smart Sustainable Cities Organisation (WeGO), Seoul, talked about how people build smart cities because they are “smart,” and also because they “want to be happy and get happier.”
AI & Education
The future of learning and workforce innovation
The AI & Education conference hosted by EdTech Asia looked beyond the clichéd friend-or-foe debate on the role of AI, to analyse the effects of AI integration into the workplace and its role in enhancing human performance and creativity. Based on his own inspiring journey from a dishwasher on hourly wages into a successful tutor and entrepreneur, Duc Luu, Chief Strategy Officer of RISE Education had some simple but hard-hitting advice for entrepreneurs: to choose investors wisely, identify the total addressable market, examine your business model, and most of all “find your market and plough a truck through it.” The conference explored the challenges and opportunities presented by AI and related technologies at the school and university level, as well as ongoing skill development at work, and how educators, corporates and governments can work together to maximise the benefits of these technologies.
Startup Impact Summit
Showcasing Impact. Making Impact.
As home to six unicorns, Hong Kong is an especially appropriate location for a conference showcasing the impact created by startups. At the Startup Impact Summit hosted by WHub, successful entrepreneurs, investors and industry veterans offered valuable advice on topics ranging from fundraising and upscaling to risk assessment and regulatory challenges. Their lectures, panel discussions and fireside chats covered sectors from cryptocurrency to sustainable investing, and everything in between.
Alongside the speaking programme, SIS19 incorporated a job fair where 40+ startups could scout for talent, a services marketplace, investment workshop and startup demos and pitches.
One of the star speakers was Jason Calacanis, serial entrepreneur, angel investor and founder of Angel University, who spoke on a range of topics, including how he picked startups to invest in. “I want the founder to tell me how it’s going to work and why it’s important” he said, and also underlined the importance of being able to learn new things: “I like people with skills. The skill to have the ability to independently learn –and be motivated to learn –new skills.”