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Start-up hub

In an increasingly competitive landscape for start-ups in the maritime and logistics space, Tabitha Logan and Su Yin Anand, founders of The Captain’s Table, take a deep dive into what makes Hong Kong unique as a start-up hub.

Hong Kong is ranked as one of the world’s freest economies, so when we were approached in 2019 by start-ups looking to engage with the shipping industry, we partnered with the Starting Up Hong Kong – StartmeupHK team to understand the ecosystem that supports start-ups that have chosen Hong Kong as their base for business.

Whether a start-up is at the growth stage or raising a seed round, Hong Kong provides ample opportunities to raise capital from both angel investors and venture capital. The territory’s close proximity to Asia, its role as a gateway to China and accessible markets provide the ideal business environment, enabling companies to scale. Most importantly, Hong Kong also has a deep pool of talent to recruit from locally, with three of Hong Kong’s universities ranked among the top 50 in the world. The government’s recent launch of its TechTAS program also provides fast-track visas for imported talent with specific technical skills, allowing for diverse and multicultural teams.

With a simple and low tax system, common law jurisdiction and leading IP protection it’s no wonder that as of 2020 over 3,000 start-ups call Hong Kong home.

The combination of infrastructure, maritime expertise and a dynamic start-up ecosystem provide the ideal conditions for success

Home-grown talent

The Captain’s Table was launched in 2019 as an independent pitch competition connecting tech start-ups from the maritime and logistics space with stakeholders in the shipping industry. Utilising Hong Kong’s status as a leading international maritime centre and home to one of the world’s largest shipping communities, the Captain’s Table has developed a network that is proactive in supporting and engaging with start-ups, working on solutions relating to digitalisation, optimisation and the buzzword of the moment, decarbonisation.

Of these 3,000+ start-ups, 26% of them have global founders and we have been lucky enough to work with some of these incredibly passionate leaders. They often quote the close-knit start-up community, multicultural environment and social scene as some of the key reasons they choose Hong Kong.

Here are just a few of the innovative start-ups originating in Hong Kong. Clearbot | Hong Kong – Self navigating AI vision guided robots that collect marine trash autonomously. Home | Carbonbase Enterprise – a startup leveraging AI and blockchain to mobilising citizens, scaling up beach cleaning and enabling a greener ecosystem. Home | Open Ocean Camera- an AI-powered open-source underwater camera for research conservation in the oceans. archiREEF – building dynamic ocean ecosystems – the first artificial reef structure printed on terracotta, reef tiles that can enhance coral survivorship and growth. What We Do – Irwin Marine Services – retrofitting and recycling old pipes onboard ships to reduce environmental waste.

Where do these start-ups reside? In Hong Kong, there are over 90+ incubators and accelerators, numerous universities and start-up associations. A number of private accelerators also offer up to $500,000 in investments for early-stage start-ups. Public support networks are vital too and a number of our Captain’s Table start-ups have been incubated at Cyberport and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, the Hong Kong government’s leading technology incubators, providing a great setting to collaborate with other start-ups.

These public networks offer start-ups funding to develop their solutions and established their operations. Our finalist from 2020, Virtual Control, a Cyberport alumni, is a good example. Virtual Control use artificial intelligence to provide real time insights on your assets, both optimising operations and protecting them through real time visibility.

We at The Captain’s Table are grateful to the Hong Kong government and the maritime industry for believing like us, that the combination of infrastructure, maritime expertise and a dynamic start-up ecosystem provide the ideal conditions for success.

Splash is proud to be the media partner of The Captain’s Table. For more information on the competition, click here.

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