Date
24 July 2017
Dominic Allon, managing director of Google HK (fourth from left), and Professor Kevin Au, director of the CUHK Center for Entrepreneurship (fourth from right), join other program organizers at the launch of the 2 Percent Mission. Photo: HKEJ
Dominic Allon, managing director of Google HK (fourth from left), and Professor Kevin Au, director of the CUHK Center for Entrepreneurship (fourth from right), join other program organizers at the launch of the 2 Percent Mission. Photo: HKEJ

Google, CUHK launch program to nurture Hong Kong start-ups

Internet giant Google Inc. and the Chinese University of Hong Kong have launched a program to support about 2,800 start-ups over the next four years.

Called the 2 Percent Mission — the target represents about 2 percent of the average number of new business registrations in the city each year — the program seeks to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and nurture start-ups into becoming high-impact businesses in Hong Kong.

It hopes to create 333,800 new jobs, 11,480 new high-potential start-ups, and contribute 0.24 percent growth to the city’s gross domestic product, Google and CUHK’s Center for Entrepreneurship announced Wednesday.

Although Hong Kong has an excellent infrastructure for budding start-ups, its entrepreneurial ecosystem is disconnected and caught in an “innovation deadlock”, according to a new study released jointly by the two organizers.

The study was based on a survey of more than 900 entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs, 270 start-ups and 40 mentors in the city.

It identified four key ingredients that are vital to correct the situation: 1) shake social convention, 2) bridge the gap between the willingness to give and supporting homegrown start-ups, 3) “jailbreak” the innovation deadlock, and 4) balance five key groups in the ecosystem — start-up community, business community, investor, educator and government.

Professor Kevin Au, the director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, said Hong Kong parents expect their kids to have a stable job and always regard entrepreneurship as too risky. Peer pressure also makes it hard for a prospective entrepreneur to take the first step.

The study shows that pressure from friends to delay their business plans increases more than four times after enrolling in a start-up program.

As most small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong seek quick money and don’t attach enough importance to research and development, many local investors would rather buy foreign high-tech assets rather than homegrown firms, Au said.

Meanwhile, there’s a wide gap between the perception of local research institutions and professors and that of SMEs. It takes time for the gap to narrow, he said.

Au also said traditional businesses must increase their connection and cooperation with peers in the high tech sectors to enhance their operations and performance.

The 2 Percent Mission is part of the Empowering Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) Program launched in late 2013.

A new round will be open for applications starting Friday. The theme is mobile technologies.

The deadline for online applications is May 26. Applicants are required to submit a business summary and a two-minute video to introduce the team and business idea and gather at least 200 likes for the video by June 1.

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MY/JP/CG

EJ Insight reporter

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