Fifty-two Hong Kong students grouped into 18 teams will leave for the US on Friday to participate in a one-week boot camp that aims to enhance the youngsters’ ability in problem solving, product design and presentation.
The boot camp, to be held in Silicon Valley, will be supervised by the Stanford Graduate School of Business faculty.
“The program is designed for participants who have an idea for a business and hope to bring it to the market in the next one to two years,” Bethany Coates, Assistant Dean, Global Innovation Programs at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, told EJ Insight in a phone interview.
The participants of the boot camp will learn a problem solving methodology pioneered by Stanford and also how to design their products by putting users at the center, Coates said.
“We work intensively with our participants on communication skills. We want them to be able to present in a persuasive way,” she said.
Last month, Hong Kong Cyberport announced the launch of a pilot program, Cyberport University Partnership Programme (CUPP), in collaboration with Stanford Graduate School of Business, to groom young tech and entrepreneurial talents in Hong Kong.
The program is one of Cyberport’s new initiatives in 2015 to ensure a sustainable tech and start-up ecosystem in the city.
Last Saturday, 18 teams of students from five local universities — City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and The University of Hong Kong – gathered at Cyberport for a set- off party, where they gleaned some insights from Cyberport executives.
They will now be heading for a one-week FinTech-related entrepreneurship boot camp conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
The students will later share their ideas during the “Global Entrepreneurship Week China – Hong Kong” event that will be held at the Cyberport in November.
The most outstanding teams will each be awarded a cash prize of HK$100,000 and short-listed to join Cyberport Incubation Programme interview.
Coates said the program makes good use of Cyberport’s talent networks and Stanford’s deep knowledge of expertise in entrepreneurship.
“We are coming out at different strength but with the same vision about the impact that we are trying to create,” she said.
FinTech in Hong Kong
Among different kinds of technology, FinTech or financial technology is seen as having strong potential for Hong Kong startups.
“Hong Kong is a global financial center. Proximity of many people with deep experience in different sectors is crucially important to create a cluster of entrepreneurs,” Coates said. “We see the same thing happening in New York and London.”
With support from the public sector and a lot of early stage investors, young entrepreneurs can launch their businesses in Hong Kong much easier than before, she said.
Also, Hong Kong should be able to gain experience from the technology sector in Silicon Valley easily as it is an English speaking city and people are familiar with Western culture, she said.
Prior to the latest program that is jointly organized with Cyberport, Stanford had undertaken similar initiatives with partners in India, Malaysia and Mexico.
“Our goal of finding the most talented leaders remains the same in all regions,” Coates said.
Stanford & Silicon Valley
In fact, the joint programs also help Stanford and companies in Silicon Valley understand the global markets as talents come from all around the world to share their experience.
“While sharing what we have learnt, we are also trying to understand the markets outside Silicon Valley through these programs,” Coates said, noting that overseas market conditions can be very different from the US.
Stanford is a good place for young people to learn about entrepreneurship as it has a strong connection with companies in Silicon Valley, she said.
“The border between Stanford University and Silicon Valley is very blurred,” Coates said. “People working in Silicon Valley always come back to teach in Stanford. Many of the most important companies in Silicon Valley have been started by students or staff from Stanford.”
Several generations of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley can provide mentorship to newcomers, she said.
People who don’t find success with their startups also needn’t worry as they can easily land jobs outside, given the large number of tech firms in the area, the Stanford official added.
Jeff Pao is the writer of this article.
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