Empowering innovators: how HKTDC’s Start-up Express is steering the future of global entrepreneurship

Empowering innovators: how HKTDC’s Start-up Express is steering the future of global entrepreneurship

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Aligned with Hong Kong’s vision to emerge as the region’s innovation and technology hub, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is steadfast in its pursuit through the Start-up Express initiative.

This comprehensive start-up development programme, carefully designed to fuel the ascent of innovative ventures, embodies HKTDC’s dedication to cultivating a new generation of global entrepreneurs. 

With a vision to fortify the capabilities of local start-ups, Start-up Express paves the way for entrepreneurs to expand their horizons, connect with like-minded business and funding partners, and significantly amplify their brand presence on the global front. 

This is more than a programme; it’s a journey towards achieving unparalleled growth, offering participants an exclusive platform to learn, evolve, and establish invaluable connections. 

The journey begins 

Each year, Start-up Express meticulously selects ten winners to join its annual cohort, catapulting them into a world of opportunities including extensive marketing activities, exposure to investors, media spotlight, and potential partnerships. 

These chosen few embark on a transformative journey, benefiting from a suite of resources tailored to elevate their capabilities, connect with potential partners, and skyrocket their brand visibility. 

Aimed at fostering the next generation of innovators, the programme extends a wealth of benefits to facilitate their ascent. Participants will gain access to workshops aimed at capacity building, mentorship from industry titans, exploratory missions across the Greater Bay Area, and an array of trade promotion opportunities both locally and internationally. 

Moreover, the programme facilitates business matching, ensures media coverage, and offers a stage for pitching to investors, seamlessly integrating these start-ups into Hong Kong’s vibrant start-up ecosystem.  

But the ambition of Start-up Express transcends local boundaries. The programme offers its participants a chance to showcase their innovations on a global stage, securing spots in prestigious international exhibitions such as the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the MEDICA Trade Fair in Düsseldorf, and the China Hi-Tech Fair. 

Start-up Express elevates local innovators to the global stage, featuring them in major international exhibitions worldwide, including the CES in Las Vegas.

A tale of success and innovation 

The success stories of the 2023 cohort serve as a testament to the programme’s impactful mission. From transforming industries to pioneering technological advancements, these ventures are setting new benchmarks for success. 

In the realm of food and beverage, DimOrder has emerged as a revolutionary force since its inception in 2019, offering a platform that simplifies business management for restaurateurs, allowing chefs to truly shine.  

Similarly, Haofood is on a mission to address global food sustainability, aiming to feed 5% of the world’s population with its sustainable Asian meatless products by 2030. Meanwhile, Meat The Next, established in 2020, focuses on alternative protein solutions, striving to mitigate climate change from the Hong Kong Science Park. 

Education and technology merge seamlessly in Big Bang Academy, an EdTech start-up from early 2020 that enriches science education with its interactive online platform, reaching students across Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and beyond.  

To assist in the development of smart cities, Kodifly leverages lidar and camera fusion technology to create detailed 3D models for infrastructure analysis, indicating a promising future with plans for expansion. 

The digital transformation wave is led by Moongate, a web3 utility platform that has quickly adapted NFTs for mainstream use, showcasing significant growth and engagement across major events and festivals.  

Negawatt has rolled out a smart building monitoring system to enhance air quality and disease prevention in commercial spaces, marking a significant step towards healthier environments. 

Medical technology sees a breakthrough with Neuropix, which offers a portable device for the non-surgical treatment of brain disorders, providing a novel solution for continuous patient care.  

Lastly, Syngular Tech blends augmented reality with orthopaedic surgery, aiming to revolutionise medical procedures and training with its unique applications, drawing from its roots in the gaming industry. 

These winning start-ups, diverse yet united in their innovative spirit, highlight the dynamic and transformative potential of Hong Kong’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, as championed by Start-up Express.  

Doors wide open for next-gen entrepreneurs 

The call for ambitious innovators is now underway, with the portal for registrations open until May 2024.  

From the pool of applicants, 40 promising start-ups will be shortlisted for a closed-door pitching session towards the end of May, setting the stage for the intense selection process. By early June, this number will be narrowed down to 20 finalists, culminating in a final pitching event scheduled for June 27.  

Forty participating start-ups will be shortlisted for a May pitching session, leading to 20 finalists and a final pitch event on June 27.

To qualify for this game-changing opportunity, start-ups must have been incorporated on or after January 1, 2019, should not have raised more than US$10 million in funding, and must possess a valid business registration in Hong Kong. 

As Start-up Express gears up for its next cohort, it stands ready to welcome a new wave of start-ups keen on making their mark in the tech world. With categories ranging from art tech to fintech, health tech, prop tech, smart cities, and sustainability, the programme is a clarion call to innovators poised to shape the future. 

HKTDC’s vision for Start-up Express is clear: to establish a global platform for aspiring leaders in innovation. By offering a unique blend of resources, exposure and opportunities, the program aims to elevate start-ups to the international arena, reinforcing Hong Kong’s position as a leading hub for innovation and business. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to take your start-up to new heights. If you meet the criteria and are ready to join the ranks of innovators shaping the future, apply now to be part of Start-up Express’s next ground-breaking cohort. 

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