CityU establishes complete innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem

Cathy Lau

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A complete innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem developed at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) will provide the CityU community with full life cycle support for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The CityU Innopreneurship Ecosystem offers comprehensive support at all stages of an entrepreneurial pursuit, from skills enhancement and physical space for start-ups to financial support worth at least HK$6.5 million in total per year, plus additional investment capital for mature enterprises.

A launching ceremony held on 23 November at CityU was officiated by Mr Herman Hu Shao-ming, Council Chairman of CityU, Professor Way Kuo, President, Dr Lo Wai-kwok, Chairman of CityU Enterprises Limited and Legislative Council member, Professor Lu Jian, Vice-President (Research and Technology), Mr Sunny Lee Wai-kwong, Vice-President (Administration), Mr David Ai Chuan, Director of Knowledge Transfer, and Mr Peter Mok, Head of Incubation Programmes, Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP).

In his opening speech, Mr Hu encouraged students to start, grow and materialise their entrepreneurial dreams.

“Innovation and knowledge transfer capacity is one of CityU’s priority areas in the latest five-year plan,” he said. “The Innopreneurship Ecosystem will give a great deal of valuable support to the innovative ideas produced on campus.”

Professor Kuo said CityU had the responsibility to help improve Hong Kong’s competitiveness and nurture more talents for the innovation and technology sector in society.

“The CityU Innopreneurship Ecosystem will help us to use our resources more effectively in helping CityU members to innovate, and then turn their innovations into reality. We offer assistance across different entrepreneurial stages and strive to create a culture that favours the development of innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said.

One of the major components of the ecosystem is the seamless connected funding schemes for CityU entrepreneurs aimed at materialising business initiatives. These schemes are a free grant called the Student Early Entrepreneurship Development Scheme (SEEDS), worth a total of HK$2.5 million annually, aimed at encouraging students to generate innovative ideas during their studies at CityU; the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities (TSSSU) set up by the Innovation and Technology Commission, worth a total of HK$4 million annually, aimed at supporting technology business start-ups developed by CityU students, alumni and professors; and the CityUE Investment Fund, a venture-capital-style investment mechanism, aimed at supporting CityU spinoff companies in exchange for stock ownership.

Following a lead venture capital or an angel investor, CityU Enterprises Limited (CityUE) will consider co-investment of up to HK$2.5 million for each spinoff. Hence, these three funding schemes are well designed and interlock together, providing aspiring CityU entrepreneurs with the best possible support.

The other component is the CityU-HKSTP Incubator Scheme, a collaboration with HKSTP. The CityU incubated companies which pass the admission process of HKSTP’s incubation programmes will be supported in terms of office space and facilities, investment services, business expansion and financial subsidies.

The third component of the ecosystem is the Innovation Commons where resources and tools are accessible to CityU entrepreneurs. They can receive consultations on entrepreneurship-related issues, create mentor networks, and learn to raise money via government and private funding sources.

Mr Ai said that the CityU Innopreneurship Ecosystem provided full support for CityU entrepreneurs to enhance their skills and put entrepreneurship into practice.

“The whole ecosystem not only nurtures future entrepreneurs for Hong Kong, it also provides opportunities for students to learn actively and take the initiative to make a discovery. It equips them with knowledge and skills to compete with their peers from all over the world,” he explained.

One company, “NoPhish Tech”, developed by Yuan Xingliang, a PhD student in Computer Science at CityU, and the awardee of the TSSSU and the HKSTP’s Incu-Tech Programme, is working on an anti-phishing mobile app that can detect malicious information inside QR codes. He said TSSSU had offered him funding to start his business and recognised him and his team’s efforts, thus motivating them to make progress in the entrepreneurial journey.

In addition, “Air Button”, developed by CityU alumnus Mr Oswis Wong, an awardee of TSSSU, won the Best 100 in the Good Design Award 2015 for an additional button that allows users to access smartphone functions and apps more efficiently.

“In my experience, in addition to money, the human network is important in the success of start-ups. The Innopreneurship Ecosystem is a well-connected fund chain that supports young entrepreneurs to start from zero in the entrepreneurial journey. It continues to expand the business with free grants supported by the University as well as the aid of a broad network of entrepreneurs and experts,” Mr Wong said.

Another CityU alumnus, Mr Mew Kin-ni, joined the Cyberport University Partnership Programme (CUPP) and was awarded a prize of HK$100,000 to develop his start-up project “Optimor”, which applies big data technology to help banks and enterprises answer customers’ enquiries with an interactive, real-time and automatic application.

He has received intensive entrepreneurial consultation from the Knowledge Transfer Office and other experienced entrepreneurs during his start-up journey. He said he wanted to give himself a chance to become an entrepreneur and hoped that he could use his inventions to change society.


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