21 April 2019
Li Ka-shing says innovation is sometimes bogged down in needless bureaurcracy. Photo: HKEJ
Li Ka-shing says innovation is sometimes bogged down in needless bureaurcracy. Photo: HKEJ

Li Ka-shing touts the future of disruptive technology

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing is supporting 50 start-ups with the potential to transform markets, according to The Straits Times.

Asia’s richest man is upbeat about the future of disruptive technology but said hurdles remain.

“Many governments claim to be mobilizing resources behind technological and innovative initiatives but such efforts often get bogged down by bureaucracy and fail even to galvanize their own to embrace innovation,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Li Ka Shing Foundation and its venture capital partner, Horizon Ventures, is co-organizing a half-day event in Singapore to discuss disruptive technology.

Other co-organizers include local venture capital firm Vertex Venture Holdings and the entrepreneurship arm of the National University of Singapore.

Disruptive technology is any technological innovation that helps create a new market and leads to an overhaul of existing industries.

Seven start-ups from the United States, Israel, Canada, Britain and Switzerland will showcase their technologies, from plant-based meat and leather to brain-sensing headbands for managing stress.

“We are now in a data-driven, talent-centric economy where the word ‘disrupt’ has become a movement,” Straits Times quoted Li as saying.

“This movement combines emerging technologies to create new businesses for profit as well as a focused purpose to change the world.”

However, Li said it is impossible to predict the future.

“I often meet very passionate young founders. They are gutsy and dare to see a future that is quite different from the past,” he said.

“We need to learn how to be flexible to capture and leverage their energy and find a way to infuse it into our mature operations and markets.”

Li, the world’s 19th richest person with a fortune of US$31 billion by Forbes estimates, has gained from investing in digital upstarts such as Facebook, Skype and Summly.

Li and Horizon Ventures had invested US$350 million in different start-ups, Forbes reported in March. 

Li said the first thing he learned from meeting young entrepreneurs is not to lump them into stereotypes but enjoy the “awesomeness of their propositions”.

“This is really the crux of the matter. How do you inspire society to yearn for the sea? When you achieve this, a Silicon Valley can appear anywhere.”

Quoting 20th-century French writer and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Li said “if you want ot build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work but teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea”.  

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