27 October 2016
The Guangdong Free Trade Zone offers sleek offices with a year of free rent to Hong Kong entrepreneurs. Photo: GDFTZ
The Guangdong Free Trade Zone offers sleek offices with a year of free rent to Hong Kong entrepreneurs. Photo: GDFTZ

Neighbors across the border are luring away our talents

While some people are already worried about Hong Kong’s shortage of startup entrepreneurs, neighbors from across the border are trying to lure our young talents away.

The Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur Hub (E Hub) and China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone (GDFTZ) are both offering attractive terms to lure our innovators.

E Hub, set up at the end of 2014, is dangling rental subsidies, tax breaks and fundraising support.

The first year is rent-free, and for the second year there’s a 50 percent discount.

That’s not a bad offer for Hong Kong startups who are tired of coping with the city’s sky-high rentals.

E Hub also pledges to provide multiple promotion and financing platforms to help startups raise capital.

GDFTZ opened in April this year with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying as the main guest in the plaque-unveiling ceremony.

The free trade zone offers tax breaks and one-year free rental. It also boasts an excellent working environment.

Access to local contacts is one reason why Hong Kong companies prefer to start their business in these two centers.

One local maker of beauty products, who recently got the key to a new office at GDFTZ, said he appreciates the “great connection to mainland business people” that the zone provides.

Qianhai’s E Hub also hosts Friday happy-hour gatherings that startups find very useful.

“We can meet a lot of like-minded people and exchange ideas with them,” the owner of a Hong Kong-based 3D printing firm told reporters. “We also meet a lot of experienced people.”

These Hongkongers also hope the mainland incubation centers could hook them up with mainland investors.

Access to low-cost parts and the need to get a first-hand knowledge of the mainland market are also among the reasons why they want to be based in China.

Most big firms start small. Mainland officials are keen to identify potential winners and give them the support to help them grow.

Hong Kong may rank second to the United States in terms of competitiveness, but clearly, a growing number of young entrepreneurs don’t feel that way about their city.

We have to do something about the brain drain before more locals take their business elsewhere.

– Contact us at [email protected]


Qianhai’s E Hub provides decent accommodation for up to 140 people as part of its support package for startups. Photo: E Hub

EJ Insight writer

EJI Weekly Newsletter