How and Where to Find Startup Accelerator Programs in Hong Kong
10 minute read
Hong Kong is seen as a financial paradise by many entrepreneurs around the globe. Regional authorities have special conditions regarding taxes and aids, which is why many successful companies are based in HK.
However, Hong Kong is also known for its fintech industry. This may not be the first association in people’s minds when they hear Hong Kong, but 48 out of the top 100 fintech companies are based in the region. Indeed, fintech innovation is quite present in HK.
Considering that this industry is booming, the authorities have also increased the number of incubation and acceleration programs that startups use.
If you are interested in learning more about these accelerator programs and where you can find them, keep reading.
Government accelerator programs Hong Kong
First, let’s take a look at some great government accelerator programs. The programs you are about to see are directly supported by the authorities of Hong Kong.
StartmeupHK — backed by InvestHK
StartmeupHK is a program designed by InvestHK. Its goal is to help founders of innovative and scalable startups from abroad set up or expand in Hong Kong.
This program offers services that range from providing information about the startup ecosystem in Hong Kong, connecting people to the startup community, hosting startup events and helping to foster a positive environment for these companies to grow.
This program’s key objectives include:
- Attracting global, innovative, scalable, and high-impact ventures to set up a presence here.
- Connecting and encouraging collaboration between overseas entrepreneurs and Hong Kong-based companies.
- Propelling the development of Hong Kong as a leading destination for entrepreneurship and innovation.
These two are major government-supported programs that can help fresh entrepreneurs kick off their organizations.
Cyberport Incubation Program supports entrepreneurs and start-ups by providing resources meant to accelerate the company growth. This program offers a range of business and professional services, like providing incubatees with up to HK$500,000 support over a period of 24 months.
All of the participants (incubatees) can be a part of the program at the Cyberport headquarters. However, they can also take part from their own premises.
Additionally, Cyberport also provides a comprehensive platform to foster success for digital tech entrepreneurs.
All successful applicants enjoy the following program benefits:
- Up to HK$500,000 financial assistance including:
- HK$100,000 Initial Working Capital Grant
- Up to HK$200,000 grant to be allocated upon the completion of Six-monthly Progress Reviews
- Up to HK$200,000 for Performance-driven 2-Tiered Assessment, covering the areas of:
- Business performance
- Accumulated investment raised
- Industrial recognition
- Overseas or Mainland China expansion
- Talents development
- Cyberport engagement
- Rent-free working space (only for participants who want to work on-site at Cyberport).
- Free use of Cyberport shared meeting rooms, conference rooms, co-working spaces, and other facilities.
- Meetings with entrepreneurs and investors, and networking opportunities.
Corporate / VC programs
Now that we have covered the government-sponsored accelerator programs, we can move on to corporate accelerator programs. A corporate accelerator is a specific form of seed accelerator sponsored by an established for-profit corporation.
Corporate accelerators usually derive their objectives from the sponsoring organization. These objectives may include the wish to remain close to emerging trends or to establish a funnel for corporate venture capital investments. Now, let us take a look at two great programs of this kind.
Betatron is a startup investment firm and accelerator program which invests up to US$500,000 into about 15 to 20 startups every year.
This firm runs a four-month acceleration program that focuses on helping each startup raise its next funding round and accelerating business growth. The program is based in Hong Kong but only requires physical attendance for a total of 3 two-week periods. Betatron organizes a roadshow in Asia and North America including Demo Days in Hong Kong, Singapore, and San Francisco.
Only the most promising startups are caught by Betatron’s radars. Their focus is placed on tech companies with a scalable business model and a large addressable market. The general objective is to help the companies grow and prepare them for large institutional funding rounds.
Nest is a global innovation agency. This VC firm has offices in Bangkok, Bahrain, Nairobi, and London.
According to their portfolio, the main goal is to provide support to entrepreneurs with the aim to help them grow and scale their businesses. Thanks to its strategic locations across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, this firm can help businessmen test and scale to new markets quickly.
Entrepreneurs can work with corporates and thus gain valuable knowledge like working and navigating with big corporates. Understanding how to communicate and work with big clients is of great importance in the world of business today. Finally, it is nice to know that Nest does not require participating startups to give up any portion of ownership. Instead, the firm invests in the next round of funding fairly.
Various universities offer incubation programs and funding schemes for startups and new entrepreneurs.
In general, most colleges and universities fund themselves through a mixture of state and local support, tuition, and revenue that comes from donations, land grants, and so on.
Hence, some institutions decide to give back to organizations that have great potential to grow and succeed.
Take a look at a few examples below.
PolyU Micro Fund Scheme
PolyU Micro Fund Scheme provides a seed fund of HK$120,000 per project. This scheme also guarantees pre-incubation support to students/graduates who wish to turn their ideas into proper startups.
To apply for a chance to win the support of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, a team has to have at least one student or alumni of PolyU, HKCC or SPEED as the Principal Applicant.
All commercially viable ideas with social or industrial impact are welcome. If the team has no registered company, it shall be registered within 24 months of the application deadline.
The support comes in two shapes:
- For finalists
- For awardees
Finalists get to enjoy the prototyping support of up to HK$5,000 per project, workspace at PolyU InnoHub, and cloud service support of up to US$9,280 per project.
When it comes to awardees, they shall enjoy a seed fund of up to HK$120,000, admission to HKSTP Incubation, and pre-incubation support (training, workshops, business clinic, etc.).
The main goal of iDendron is to become an enabling partner for new entrepreneurs and innovators.
iDendron, HKU Innovation & Entrepreneurship Hub, was launched in 2017 with the aim of nurturing entrepreneurial and innovative spirit on campus, incubating HKU early stage startups, establishing interdisciplinary cooperation and engaging the community to support human endeavors and social developments.
According to its website, the mission includes:
- Nurturing entrepreneurial and innovative spirit on campus.
- Engaging and growing the entrepreneurship community to impact on HKU and beyond.
- Establishing interdisciplinary cooperation in entrepreneurial initiatives.
- Supporting and incubating HKU early-stage startups.
If you were looking for accelerator programs in Hong Kong, now you know where you can find them. If you want more options in Hong Kong, Singapore, South East Asia, you can download our handpicked accelerator guide here.
Starting a company in Hong Kong is always a good idea, especially with all the support provided by these and similar programs. Rest assured that many other innovators and new entrepreneurs have already started applying for help and funds. To start your company in Hong Kong and get all the help you need, contact Sleek!