International Accelerators and Incubators Establish Outposts in Hong Kong to bring in Start-ups and Support Regional Businesses

International Accelerators and Incubators Establish Outposts in Hong Kong to bring in Start-ups and Support Regional Businesses

Establishing offices in Hong Kong, start-up accelerators and incubators hope to help the city’s ambition to become a global digital powerhouse by nurturing hundreds of foreign start-ups in partnership with the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park (HSITP).

The Shanghai-based biomedical research accelerator ATLATL Innovation Centre, which already has offices in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Singapore, plans to invest HK$50 million (US$6.39 million) over the course of the next three years to establish a presence in Hong Kong and attract a minimum of twenty international start-ups.

According to ATLATL executive president Joe Zhou, “Hong Kong has some of the best universities in the world, and it has the scientific research capabilities and talent.” Zhou made this statement recently to the South China Morning Post.

“We hope to leverage the city’s existing advantages and provide it with a better platform to help these scientists release their innovations and make the transition to businesses more smooth and easier.”

The largest pre-seed startup accelerator in the world, Founder Institute, with its headquarters in California, also declared last week that it will open an office in Hong Kong and support at least 100 international start-ups from industries like big data, artificial intelligence, and life sciences annually.

The two businesses are part of the more than 60 elite businesses, academic institutions, and research centers from Hong Kong, the mainland, and throughout the world that joined forces with the HSITP last Thursday.

Twenty-four of them have promised to open offices or grow their businesses in the city, bringing in hundreds of jobs and billions of dollars in investment.

“A lot of people understand the technical stuff, but they don’t understand the commercialisation,” Founder Institute head of global growth Ayhan Isaacs remarked.

“One of the things we’re hoping with the start-up incubation and acceleration programmes we plan on running with the HSITP or even independently is to bridge that gap,” he said. “The goal is to identify those strong founders, help develop their business and put them on the path to success.”

Both businesses make use of a 300-hectare plot of land in the San Tin Technopole’s Lok Ma Chau Loop, which was donated by the HSITP. This space will be used as a workspace for domestic startups as well as foreign businesses that the incubators brought to the city.

ATLATL intends to extend an invitation to further scientific projects to establish branches in Hong Kong from mainland Chinese research organizations. According to Zhou, it would also collaborate with regional universities like the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong University to invest in local inventions using its own venture capital.

The companies aspire for start-ups from all over the world to choose Hong Kong as a home for their business, taking use of the city’s special status as a gateway to mainland China.

“Hong Kong has a lot of resources that you cannot get anywhere else, like taxation, easy environment for businesses and internationality,” said Isaacs. “I don’t think talent retention will be a challenge, as long as we make sure opportunities exist.”