City University of Hong Kong launches South-East Asia start-up competition


MDEC investment relations and advisory director Izham Ismail (fourth from left), Malaysian Higher Education Minister’s adviser Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Morshidi Sirat (fifth from left), Prof Yang (sixth from left) and Universiti Malaya acting deputy vice-chancellor (development/value creation and enterprise) Prof Dr Sabri Musa (seventh from left), together with associates, at the launch of the HK Tech 300 Southeast Asia Startup Competition.

KUALA LUMPUR: City University of Hong Kong is seeking young talents in South-East Asia to promote the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region.

Also, to foster more collaboration between universities and incubators in Hong Kong and South-East Asia, City University of Hong Kong launched its inaugural HK Tech 300 Southeast Asia Startup Competition at Hilton Kuala Lumpur on May 8.

“We believe in cultivating young talent, and there is so much potential here in South-East Asia,” said City University of Hong Kong vice-president (research and technology) and HK Tech 300 executive committee chairman Prof Michael Yang Mengsu.

“We want to provide young people with the platform so that they can realise their dream by engaging in an entrepreneurship journey.

“They always have innovative ideas, but sometimes they don’t have the necessary resources to launch the idea into a startup and grow it into unicorns (startup companies valued at US$1bil).”

City University of Hong Kong will work with its partner universities – Universiti Malaya and Universiti Putra Malaysia (Malaysia), Universiti Brunei Darussalam (Brunei) and Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), as well as the Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC), Selangor Information Technology and Digital Economy Corp (Sidec) and various chambers of commerce – to bring together the most promising startups in the region.

Prof Yang said that at the end of the programme, at least 10 participants will be selected and each will receive HK$1mil (over RM565,000) as angel fund investment.

“Beside funding, they will get business networking as well as co-investment, training and mentoring opportunities.

“We want to help them to explore the market for startups in South-East Asia, and also in Hong Kong, mainland China and other parts of Asia, by leveraging Hong Kong’s unique advantages and resources.”

He said that City University of Hong Kong and its partner universities are engaged in innovative research, and “it’s very important to translate this research into practical applications to address various regional and global problems.

“These problems require global collaboration and people, particularly young people, from all regions to work together for solutions,” he added.

As such, innovations for the HK Tech 300 would focus on issues in the region and globally – such as climate change, carbon neutrality, green energy, healthcare, public housing, food safety and needs of daily life.

Prof Yang said that Kuala Lumpur was chosen as the first destination to launch the competition because of the partner universities and the Malaysian government’s active involvement in promoting technology, digital transformation and entrepreneurship – which provide the foundation for a vibrant startup ecosystem.

As a large-scale flagship innovation and entrepreneurship programme by City University of Hong Kong, HK Tech 300 was organised with a total allocation of HK$600mil (about RM340mil).

Since its launch in March 2021, HK Tech 300 has awarded HK$100,000 (about RM56,500) seed funding to each of the 560 startup teams, and provided up to HK$1mil each (over RM565,000) in angel funds to more than 110 startup companies.

“Our HK Tech 300 slogan is ‘Venture beyond boundaries’, so don’t limit yourself,” Prof Yang advised participants.

“Go beyond boundaries, beyond the city, beyond the country, to interact with people. This is the social mentality of a successful entrepreneur.”

‘We are now looking for distributors in Malaysia for our different applications for the local market,’ says Chu at the launch of the HK Tech 300 Southeast Asia Start-up Competition at Hilton Kuala Lumpur. ‘We are now looking for distributors in Malaysia for our different applications for the local market,’ says Chu at the launch of the HK Tech 300 Southeast Asia Start-up Competition at Hilton Kuala Lumpur.

Angel fund recipient Dr Martin Chu, the co-founder and chief executive officer of i2Cool Limited, said the HK Tech 300 programme has helped him to grow his business by providing resources and networking access to investors, clients and industry experts.

Chu, a City University of Hong Kong PhD graduate, said his company introduced its innovative radiative cooling paint to the Hong Kong market in 2021, for reducing heat absorption in buildings, while its latest versatile product will be launched early next year.

i2Cool Limited is also involved in cooling technology, offering products such as “cooling ceramics” and “cooling textiles”.

“We have distributors in the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. We are now looking for distributors in Malaysia for our different applications for the local market,” said Chu.

Ong with his advanced augmented bamboo material at the launch of the HK Tech 300 Southeast Asia Start-up Competition, held at Hilton Kuala Lumpur. Ong with his advanced augmented bamboo material at the launch of the HK Tech 300 Southeast Asia Start-up Competition, held at Hilton Kuala Lumpur.

Super Bamboo Limited co-founder and chief executive officer Andy Ong, also an angel fund recipient, said its research team spent seven years studying the microstructure of bamboo to come up with advanced augmented bamboo material.

Ong wants to collaborate with a Malaysian partner to introduce furniture or interior design products – such as flooring – made with his bamboo as “Malaysia has resources and good potential”.

He said his “super bamboo” products can help to reduce carbon footprint, be cost effective and contribute to sustainability.

Click here to join the HK Tech 300 Southeast Asia Start-up Competition.

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