HK Tech 300: CityU's large-scale innovation and entrepreneurship programme nurtures 500+ start-ups in two years．HK-based programme being extended nationwide to promote I&T development
Hong Kong is developing at full speed into an international innovation and technology hub. Universities have always played a pivotal role in training talent and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. In March 2021, City University of Hong Kong (CityU) announced the launch of a large-scale innovation and entrepreneurship programme, called "HK Tech 300", with a substantial investment of HK$500 million. Since then, it has cultivated more than 510 start-up teams and provided up to HK$1 million in angel fund investment to more than 110 start-up companies. This has not only provided support for young people in Hong Kong to embark on their journey of innovation and technology, but has also injected new impetus into the development of Hong Kong’s innovation and technology (I&T). CityU has expanded the programme to the mainland, and held the first nationwide "HK Tech 300 Start-up Competition" to extend the application of CityU’s research achievements and intellectual property nationally, aiming to promote and build a more robust innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on both sides of the border.
A fruitful programme nurturing more than 510 start-up teams
With the theme "Venture Beyond Boundaries", HK Tech 300 supports CityU students, alumni, researchers and others to get started on their entrepreneurship journey. It is the largest university-based entrepreneurship programme in Asia, given its scale and the substantial funding. The programme aims to cultivate 300 start-ups within three years. It has so far offered more than 1,300 participants entrepreneurship training conducted by professional organisations, provided more than 510 start-up teams a seed fund of HK$100,000 each, and awarded more than 110 start-up companies angel fund investment of up to HK$1 million each. These start-ups specialise in multiple domains, including deep tech, information and communications technology, artificial intelligence, biotech and health technology, fintech, and environmental and educational technology.
The level of fundamental research and innovation of CityU has been repeatedly recognised internationally. CityU ranked among the Top 100 in the 2023 World University Rankings published by Times Higher Education (THE). It has been widely acclaimed as one of the world’s most rapidly rising universities, ranking in the top three universities in Asia in terms of the proportion of faculty members who were among the world’s top 2% most-cited scientists.
According to the National Academy of Inventors, CityU was one of the Top 100 universities granted U.S. utility patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office , and it has been ranked first among local universities for six consecutive years. “Driven by the synergy of top-notch research output and ground-breaking entrepreneurship programmes, CityU has become one of the world’s most innovative universities,” said President Way Kuo of CityU. “We will continue to speed up the pace of innovation to further contribute to society.”
Cutting-edge scientific research achievements have to be translated into practical innovation and technology products or services in order to achieve greater benefits for overall social and economic development. Therefore, one of the key features of HK Tech 300 is that students or alumni of other universities, in addition to those of CityU, as well as anyone else who is interested in joining the ranks of innovation and technology entrepreneurs, can apply to participate in HK Tech 300 by translating CityU’s research achievements and advanced technologies into products and services, thereby accelerating technology transfer. Currently, more than 15% of HK Tech 300 projects were started by non-CityU students or alumni using intellectual property or technology developed by CityU.
Connecting all walks of life to strengthen the start-up ecosystem
Innovative technology endows start-ups with a unique edge, which needs to be combined with a sound business model and support from the industry for stable, far-reaching start-up development. In just two years, CityU has established co-investment partnerships with nine innovation and technology investment companies and funds, including China Resources Enterprise Limited, which have provided angel fund investment of an additional HK$200 million to selected HK Tech 300 start-up companies. Several start-up companies have also received investment from venture capitalists, amounting to over HK$78 million in total.
Through HK Tech 300, CityU is connected with 80 partners, including the Innovation and Technology Commission, Invest Hong Kong, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited (Cyberport), the four major chambers of commerce, industry and business sectors, innovation and technology sectors, and professional institutions, to provide diversified professional services and entrepreneurial support for start-up teams. Among them, more than 300 seed fund teams from HK Tech 300 have joined the pre-incubation programmes of HKSTP and have received an additional seed fund of HK$100,000 each from HKSTP. About 120 seasoned industrialists, successful entrepreneurs and outstanding alumni have joined the "HK Tech 300 Mentorship Scheme" to guide and coach start-ups to meet real-life challenges along their entrepreneurial journey. All these achievements are affirmation from all walks of life in the community of CityU's promotion of industry-university research cooperation, which also echoes the vision of HK Tech 300 of strengthening the start-up ecosystem.
As a strategic partner of HK Tech 300, Dr Sunny Chai, Chairman of HKSTP, said, “HKSTP collaborates with CityU’s HK Tech 300 to nurture top talent into future pioneers, and to transform their bright ideas into game-changing innovations. I’m very pleased that since the launch of HK Tech 300, we have jointly cultivated hundreds of start-up teams and have helped them develop step-by-step on the road of innovation and technology.”
Mr Simon Chan, Chairman of Cyberport, said, “Cyberport and CityU share the vision of nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship talent, and are working together to help innovative young people realise their entrepreneurial dream. Through collaborative support and guidance of HK Tech 300 and Cyberport, more young people are embarking on an entrepreneurial journey to implement their innovative ideas. This also promotes the transformation, application and industrialisation of university scientific research achievements, as well as expansion in the domestic and overseas market, not only injecting impetus into Hong Kong’s innovation, technology and new economic development, but also demonstrating Hong Kong’s strengths in innovation in the mainland and international arena.”
“HK Tech 300 has cultivated a spirit of mutual help. It successfully assembles leaders and elites from industry to provide guidance and build a strong back-up network to support the start-up teams, forming a unique start-up ecosystem, which is developing productively,” said Dr Alan Lam Hiu-fung, one of the programme mentors, Director and CTO of Gravity Capital Partners Co. Ltd., and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at CityU.
“CityU connects with stakeholders such as research institutes, universities and businesses to help support more start-ups to accelerate their growth and make innovation and technology development a new engine of economic development,” said Hon Duncan Chiu, another programme mentor and Legislative Council Member (Technology and Innovation Constituency).
Promoting innovation and development in multiple places to extend the impact
CityU launched the first nationwide “HK Tech 300 Start-up Competition” in June 2022 to synergise the advantages and resources of Hong Kong and the mainland to support passionate young entrepreneurs, and to promote the application of CityU’s research achievements and intellectual property nationally. About 300 start-up companies and teams from seven mainland cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Changsha, Qingdao and Suzhou, joined the Competition together with teams and companies from Hong Kong. After several rounds of screening and selection by a panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, professionals and industry association representatives, 14 start-up companies stood out and became winners in the finals. Details of the Competition results will be announced shortly.
CityU actively creates the right atmosphere in the start-up ecosystem to move innovation and technology forward, writing a dazzling new chapter in Hong Kong's innovation and development. CityU is devoted to building a brighter future by nurturing more young start-ups and helping Hong Kong develop into an international innovation and technology hub with global influence.