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As a living innovation lab Hong Kong provides massive potential for international growth companies to scale.  Australian innovators can come to gain pilots, scale and unparalleled support.”  Associate Director-General of InvestHK, Charles Ng

Charles joined Atomic Sky in Perth to deliver a panel on innovation pathways this week.  Winnie Lai Hadid with HKABA and its members hosted the event around Fintech and economic development in Australia and Hong Kong. 

Charles opened the discussion outlining strengths of Hong Kong as a living lab for innovation development.  Of note were rapid commercialisation pathways and readiness of large clients to trial innovative new solutions.  And logically, HK as a pathway into economic scale of China along with greater China as a commercialisation hub.

Peter Rossdeutscher, Adjunct Professor of Innovation, provided several examples the need for mentors or advisors with experience in both geographies.  He iterated that a strong guide needs to have traversed the trail many times already.  The Asian markets experience and networks of those experts, like Atomic Sky, fill the gap many growth companies have when looking to new markets. 

Peter also emphasized that commercial success happens faster across borders when business strategies align with market trends that are supported by technology trends to deliver what he called ‘demand-based innovation’.  “Founders should select their target market based on the fit of their unique value rather than simply ease of access”.

Peter Boni of Bankwest was on the panel and illustrated the potential for technologies such as blockchain to positively disrupt and improve customer experiences in banking. 

Stephen Carroll of RSM Australia completed the panel highlighting potential R&D support from Australia’s national science innovation agenda, along with the broader role that professional service providers can play in supporting innovation ecosystems.

Charles went on to say; “It’s a good fit, Australia with its deep pipeline of research and ideation, Hong Kong with its diverse economy and excellent living labs platforms for early stage growth and private capital.  The six areas of HK’s Fintech focus are cyber-security, blockchain, payments, robo advice, insurance-tech and big data.”

In an earlier meeting with Atomic Sky, Charles also outlined HK’s strategic areas. 

Smart Cities via three living labs; HK-the 87 sq hectare Hong Kong – Shenzhen Science Tech Park, Hong Kong Airport and its 3rd runway which will expand passenger pass-through from 70M in 2016 to accommodate 120M passengers p.a., and the new Cultural District that will offer lifestyle experiences in Western Kowloon.   

Advanced Manufacturing including 3D printing, AI and becoming early adopters of smart manufacturing.  With IoT producing an overwhelming volume of data there is naturally a focus on the analytics and decision making power that data can provide.  Picture1

Health care, with interest in innovation supporting at home support of aging populations and in stem cell.  Per WTO, the average life expectancy for women in HK is 87.6 years old, 82.4 for men.  Forecasts of increasing average life expectancy could see 1.7B people aged over 60 years living in Asia by 2050.  These are of a generation where the internet is second nature so e-health can play a significant role in at-home health diagnostic and care.

Safe, high quality food is an area where Australia has a natural competitive advantage.  The made in Australia brand carries a consumer premium as food safety and food delivery are becoming a must.  Charles noted that Hong Kong is a hub for food has seen a rapid increase in vertical farming and has invested heavily in its Noah’s Ark science park around innovation in the agri-food sector.  Hong remains a global leader in food redistribution, in fact 25% of Japan’s worldwide food exports flows via HK.  Likewise, this is a key port for Australian food exports to China and other regions.

Hong Kong’s superior internet connectivity along with these initiatives has already seen experts like MIT, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Sweden’s prestigious Karolinska Institute of advanced health establish important innovation centres in HK recently. 

More Australian growth companies should look North, Atomic Sky has successfully helped numerous high growth companies strategically enter Asian markets including Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Japan.  Flowing in the other direction, Atomic has also helped match traditional companies locally with international innovation from Asia. 

It is our view that Hong Kong should always high on the list of for Australian companies; partially as a gateway to the massive markets of China but also because of the programs and pathways InvestHK has built to ease market entry and support early traction.