Six companies have been chosen to receive a combined 10 million yuan in investments from the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund.
These are Gobee.bike, CompareAsiaGroup, Origami Labs, Prenetics, Aqumon and Qupital.
The announcement was made Thursday by the non-profit group set up in November 2015 to support entrepreneurs in Hong Kong.
Last year, the fund announced minority investments in startups such as online fashion retailer Grana, as well as local logistics company GoGoVan, paving the way for the latter to gain a “unicorn” status (startups with billion-dollar valuation).
The new investments bring the fund’s total investees to 12 startups and total financing amount to US$20 million since 2015.
Nine of the startups received the investment in their seed or series A funding round.
Gobee.bike operates a local bike-sharing platform and is the largest in the city. It was launched in April this year.
CompareAsiaGroup provides a personal finance management platform with more than 28 million users in the region.
Origami Labs, co-founded by Kevin Wong, a third-generation management of Kowloon Watch, uses bone conduction technology to produce a voice-activated ring.
Qupital runs an online invoice discounting platform supporting SMEs to raise cash.
Aqumon operates a robo-advisory engine based on machine learning and offers it to financial institutions.
And Prenetics is a genetic testing and digital health company led by ex-Groupon chief executive Danny Yeung.
“Alibaba’s network and understanding of the mainland China market would be beneficial to our company’s expansion in the region”, said Rachel Lam, managing director, Hong Kong of CompareAsiaGroup.
Yeung, chief executive of Prenetics, said the “fame and business network of Alibaba Group is much more valuable than the monetary support for Prenetics”.
Qupital founder and director Andy Chan said Alibaba has a “deep understanding of Qupital’s business model. We believe Qupital can work with Alibaba within the latter’s ecosystem.”
Backed by HK$1 billion from the Chinese e-commerce giant, the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund provides financing to suitable businesses started up by Hongkongers or are based in Hong Kong.
But the fund has been criticized over its harsh terms including the requirement that investees use Alibaba Group systems or services, namely Taobao, Aliyun or its Big Data analytics service in some way.
Also, it has been denounced as a “pseudo-incubator” for investing in established GoGoVan.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 28
Translation by Ben Ng
[Chinese version 中文版]
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