What struck me first was its dynamism. From its traditional Kowloon markets to its luxury alleys of Central, Hong Kong is the theatre of constant development. At the feet of the biggest army of skyscrapers in the world, the streets witness millions of transactions every day, in which Swiss companies have a very big part to play. Hong Kong has become a central figure for Swiss watch manufacturers, with one Swiss watch out of five being sold in the city. More and more Swiss businesses decide to come to Hong Kong, sensing the opportunities such a place has to offer. Hong Kong is growing into a major actor in innovation and entrepreneurship, and being part of the act makes it very easy to realize the potential of such a unique environment.
It all starts very early for a lot of Hong Kong entrepreneurs. Even before graduating, a lot of young and driven students start to make a mark in the world that awaits after university, by starting their own business. At that time, the risk of failure is big, but the experience such a challenge has to offer makes the leap ever so easy. Entrepreneurship is in the culture; and it is omnipresent in Hong Kong universities, which offer many courses to instil entrepreneurial skills to their students. From engineers to language students, all have the opportunity to attempt to emulate the success of local hero Li Ka-shing, who built an empire out of nothing to become one of Hong Kong’s most successful entrepreneurs. Every year, the high-ranking Hong Kong universities release a large number of young talents, all ready to make an instant impact in their new professional environment.
At a different level, on the banks of Tolo Harbour in the New Territories, lies Hong Kong’s innovation hub, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP). Established in May 2001, its state-of-the art facilities are now home to 480 companies, for a total of over 11’000 engineers and scientists. Start-ups, SME’s and multinationals cohabit in an environment that pushes innovation further and further, in a truly beautiful setting. The park is in constant evolution, with its third phase, an eco-friendly development that will welcome an additional 150 businesses, currently coming out of the ground. Its infrastructure provides technology and design start-ups with a full service incubation programme, as well as advanced facilities and support services for high technology companies. In addition to its numerous support services, the Park’s Soft-landing Programme aims to attract overseas enterprises to promote their technology and innovation in Hong Kong, giving them the opportunity to set up a strategic outpost in the city known to open the doors to the massive Chinese market. Multiple Swiss start-ups and SME’s have already benefited from the advanced facilities and services of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, and its doors remain wide open to businesses wishing to bring their game to a whole new level.
What makes Hong Kong such a fantastic place to locate a business is not only its very advanced infrastructures, but also a combination of unique experiences. People are extremely kind and hard at work, making it not only an amazing place to work, but also a wonderful place to live. There is an indescribable feeling to the city, a sense of greatness, which one can only experience by walking in its buoyant streets. It feels like Hong Kong possesses no limits, and is in an eternal growth, no matter how special the metropolis already is. And when it comes to entrepreneurship, there is no better place to be than in a city that inspires exactly what a start-up should thrive on, a city where ambitions rise higher than the tallest skyscrapers.
- Contributed by Sebastien de Rivaz, swissnex China scout in Hong Kong