The sixth edition of StartmeupHK Festival puts sustainability and collaboration at the forefront for startups



    Photo for illustrative purposes only. Photo by Leon/Unsplash

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    The highly successful 2021 edition of StartmeupHK Festival, Asia’s leading startup event, officially came to a close on 28 May, after a bustling week showcasing 806 speakers from around the world. Organised by Invest Hong Kong, the week-long Festival attracted almost 39,000 attendees from 103 countries and highlighted that despite the overwhelming disruption over the last year, startups will continue to do what they have done so well: pivot to meet new demands.

    Speaking at the Scaleup Impact Summit by WHub, Mrs Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, GBM, GBS, Chief Executive of the HKSAR Government, hailed Hong Kong for being a pioneering IT hub, one that maintains an equilibrium between privacy and transparency. “Hong Kong’s greatest success lies on its ecosystem, we see a blooming ambience,” she added. Furthermore, Mrs. Lam underpinned the Greater Bay Area’s role as a catalyst, boosting Hong Kong’s position as a gateway to Greater China.

    StartmeupHK Festival 2021 kicked off with SHAPERZ organised by FINNOVASIA. Opening the event was Mr Edward Yau Tang-wah, GBS, JP, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the HKSAR Government, who defined Hong Kong as a “launching pad” for aspiring entrepreneurs, citing the city’s simple tax regime and business friendly environment. In his opening speech, the minister added that Hong Kong’s successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was a testament of its robustness in braving the economic storms.

    A key focus for this year’s Festival discussions was the role technology plays in real estate. Speaking at the Proptech Asia & Beyond summit by Asia PropTechDror Poleg, Author of “Rethinking Real Estate” explained how technology has shaped the real estate sector but warned of some common mistakes. “Having data is not enough, and knowing what to do with it is a unique skill,” he said, stressing that data only gains value when properly used.

    Photo for illustrative purposes only. Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions/Unsplash

    The Virtual Fintech Forum by Virtual Fintech Fair discussed the future of fintech in Hong Kong and the GBA, but also highlighted that we are in the golden age of awareness and adoption of blockchain. Vitalik Buterin, Creator of Ethereum, mentioned the bundle of updates coming soon in the industry such as increase of scalability and Proof of Stake mitigating environmental concerns regarding cryptocurrencies. “The estimates I’ve seen show that Proof of Stake can reduce the energy consumption and hardware needs in the network by a factor of anywhere from a hundred to ten thousand or even more,” he said.

    Speaking at 1.5 Degrees – The Defining Decade for Impact with Tech by Eureka Nova, was Will McGoldrick, APAC Regional Managing Director at The Nature Conservancy. He stated that green innovations should be tackled as multimodal implementations, whereby innovators should work together starting from the beginning and not once their products are completed. “We have a much bigger impact when we collaborate with others,” he enthusiastically said.

    At the Startup World Cup Asian Regional Finale 2021 by Pegasus Tech Ventures China and Family Office Association Hong Kong, speakers stressed on the intrinsic differences between brand and product, the latter playing a crucial role in a company’s success. “Great brands don’t make great products. Great products make great brands,” said American marketing specialist, author and Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Guy Kawasaki.

    “This year’s StartmeupHK Festival 2021 was far, far more than just a conference. I really felt the amazing array of participants from more than 100 countries embrace our theme of ‘a future unlimited’. It was an inspiring week bringing together some of the brightest minds behind some of the world’s most exciting startups. Together we explored ‘hot topics’ and dissected obstacles. ESG, SDGs and social impact were consistent themes throughout the week. And, of course, it was great to see that our participants from all around the world see that Hong Kong plays a crucial role in the future for so many inspiring high potential, growth ventures. As the world increasingly moves towards emerging from the ravages of the pandemic, ‘a future unlimited’ seems so very apt,” said Stephen Phillips, Director-General of Investment Promotion at InvestHK.

    Throughout the week, other main event highlights included the following:

    GBA Innovation Summit

    At the GBA Innovation Summit with TusPark Hong Kong, speakers across various sessions agreed that the Guangdong –Hong Kong –Macao Greater Bay Area gives startups an ability to outsell themselves even with limited physical presence.

    Connected Cities Conference

    Speaking at the Connected Cities Conference by KPMG, Mr Alfred Sit Wing-hang, JP, Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government, hailed entrepreneurs’ contribution in speeding up the construction of Hong Kong’s smart city infrastructures.

    GBA Online Hackathon 2021

    The GBA Online Hackathon 2021 by Startup Salad identified the Greater Bay Area’s nest of opportunities for international projects and grassroots efforts. Speakers also discussed qualities that an entrepreneur needs to be successful such as leadership and creativity.

    AI for All & Making Money with AI

    At the AI for All & Making Money with AI summit by IoTIoTNikhil Bhaskaran, Founder of IoTIoT stressed on how important AI literacy is for programmers. Although different in nature, both AI and programming are correlated.

    Female Funding Fair

    This year’s Festival was curated with ESG in mind, particularly focusing on the social aspect. At the Female Funding Fair by Next Chapter Raise, panellists talked openly about how female founders receive less than 3% funding compared to males, despite demonstrating twice the return per funded dollar, and discussed the role of financial institutions as being crucial in boosting investor confidence.

    Thriving Together

    The Thriving Together by Asia Society Hong Kong reminded participants that it is important to remember that the social part plays a key role in sustainable development. Speaking at the event, Alexander Chan, Co-Director of The Mills Fabrica, said: “When you think about ESG, the social aspect gets less measurement. It’s always easier to measure data from an environmental perspective.”

    Asia Healthcare Innovation Summit

    Joining the Asia Healthcare Innovation Summit by BrincDanny Yeung, Co-Founder and CEO of Prenetics, explained how pivotal IT professionals without a medical background like himself are in constructing healthier societies.

    Ecosystem Summit

    Speaking at the Ecosystem Summit by The Mills Fabrica on the final day, Tracy Wong Harris, Vice President and Deputy Secretary General at the Hong Kong Green Finance Association (HKGFA) & Head of Sustainable Finance, Greater China & North Asia at Standard Chartered underscored that responsible investment shouldn’t be limited to banks but rather the whole finance ecosystem, from regulators to asset management firms.

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    About Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK)

    Invest Hong Kong is the department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government responsible for attracting foreign direct investment and supporting overseas and Mainland businesses to set up or expand in Hong Kong. It provides free advice and customised services for overseas and Mainland companies. In addition to its headquarters in Hong Kong, Invest Hong Kong has representatives in 33 cities across Asia PacificEuropeMiddle East, and North and South America. For more information, please visit

    About StartmeupHK Festival

    The annual StartmeupHK Festival is curated by InvestHK, along with partner event organisers to support, showcase and connect Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem to the world, and attract innovative companies to its shores. Its weeklong format covers industries and themes of interest to tech founders, featuring talks by renowned speakers, demos, workshops, job fairs, startup pitches, and investor and business matching among others. It is a powerful platform for startups, investors, industry leaders, academia and governments to exchange ideas, make connections and define the future.

    Source: Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK)