- Hong Kong cannot hope to rival Shenzhen when it comes to nurturing start-ups, but the government can do more to encourage them such as cutting red tape, facilitating links between entrepreneurs, academia and businesses, and offering more generous subsidies
A recent study by the consultancy firm Deloitte showing that start-ups in Hong Kong lack the global outlook and vitality of their mainland Chinese counterparts comes as a surprise. The city's place in the Greater Bay Area development plan is grounded in its international links and outlook. "Energetic" and "dynamic" are words often used to describe its business environment. But the report tells a different story when it comes to innovation and creativity, speaking of narrow-minded thinking, insufficient government support and a lack of the connectivity needed to quickly turn ideas into products and get them to market.
Hong Kong often ranks at the top of global competitiveness lists, but that did not factor into the views of the 65 of the 130 local entrepreneurs surveyed who believed opportunities were being missed. A localised mindset, reluctance to use new technology in products and shortage of stable cash factored into the city's start-ups being perceived as lagging behind those on the mainland, particularly Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Other concerns were high costs and a lack of access to resources and supply channels, while government support was seen as being slow and inefficient.
Hong Kong start-ups lack Shenzhen's international focus, survey finds
These are issues beyond the global challenge of companies attracting and retaining talent. Hong Kong has well-trained and highly experienced scientists, but they are mostly doing academic research rather than working on commercial applications. Entrepreneurs inevitably have to look to the mainland to bring ideas to fruition. Shenzhen has all the right elements " a favourable start-up ecosystem, comprehensive supply chains, numerous multinational corporations, and government backing. Start-ups flock to the city to tap the support available with design, development, financing, materials procurement and production. There is a saying that one week in Shenzhen equates to one month in Silicon Valley; prototypes can be taken from drawings to completion in a day.
Hong Kong cannot hope to rival Shenzhen's supply chains, but the government can do more to encourage start-ups. It can cut red tape, facilitate links between entrepreneurs, academia and businesses, and offer more generous subsidies.
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