HKTDC’s Start-up Express Pitching Contest Showcases Innovative Solutions

Start-up Express, an entrepreneurship development programme organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), has returned for its third edition. The pitching contest under the programme successfully concluded today as a judging panel selected exceptional start-ups to participate in local and international activities to build connections, explore markets, seek partners and enhance brand awareness. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Pitching Final was livestreamed online with a live polling of the “My Favourite Start-up Award”, which was awarded to MICology.

Start-up Express Pitching Final winners photographed with jurors and guests


Stephen Liang, Assistant Executive Director of HKTDC said: “Start-ups have been affected by the economic downturn like much of the world but the true essence of entrepreneurship is persistence in the face of adversity. There can always be opportunities found amid what otherwise appears to be a crisis. Traditional business and consumption models are seeing a new normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which can in turn increase receptiveness to new ideas. With outstanding achievements in innovation and technology, local start-ups launched products and services to fight against the pandemic. The HKTDC will continue to support local start-ups in exploring business opportunities amid the pandemic-struck economy, and to promote the city’s capabilities in innovation and technology to overseas buyers.”


Start-up Express offers global promotion, market exploration

The contestants propose innovative and disruptive solutions to transform business and social ecosystems through biotechfintechroboticsartificial intelligencebig data and the Internet of Things (IoT) and responded to questions raised by a distinguished judging panel and online audience. This year’s juror line-up (listed below) witnessed the rise of new start-up success stories alongside online spectators:


  • Calvin Choi, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, AMTD Group
  • Jason Chiu, Chairman, Hong Kong Startup Council
  • Cindy Chow, Executive Director, Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund
  • Duncan Chiu, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Radiant Venture Capital
  • Herbert Chia, Venture Partner, Sequoia Capital China

This year’s winners of the Pitching Final include: AricalArovia Hong KongBUG BROS BIOTECHGense TechnologiesimBeeInovo RoboticsOpen Ocean EngineeringReturn HelperShopkyoSPES Tech and Wineworld Xplorer. (Click here for the list of wining start-ups and their profile)


The start-ups will be invited to exploratory sessions, power meet-up sessions with successful business leaders, business-matching sessions and local events organised by the HKTDC, including Start-up Zones at the Asian Financial Forum, spring and autumn editions of the HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair and HKTDC Hong Kong International Medical and Healthcare Fair. The HKTDC will also bring the start-ups to the international stage by organising overseas missions and setting up Hong Kong Pavilions at international technology exhibitions — including CES in Las Vegas and MWC Barcelona.


Double opportunities to build professional networks

AMTD Group is the strategic partner of Start-up Express for a second year. Calvin Choi, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer said: “I am impressed by the innovative ideas and practical solutions presented by our city’s young entrepreneurs in this year’s Start-up Express Pitching Final presentation. This recurring programme serves as a valuable platform for participants to showcase their unique business ideas and demonstrate the innovative power of the young generation in Hong Kong.”


“The current business landscape is full of challenges, but for start-ups that are agile and versatile in responding to changing conditions and market needs, they can definitely identify and seize the best out of available emerging opportunities.”


With the support of AMTD Group, the SpiderNet Award has been established to recognise the top performer selected by AMTD in the Pitching Final. The award aims to provide the winner with a unique and rare opportunity to access the resources and network of the AMTD SpiderNet eco-system. The winner will benefit greatly for its future development, and will also offer synergetic value to other entrepreneurs within the eco-system. imBee won the inaugural prize.


Jason Chiu, Chairman, Hong Kong Startup Council, said: “In every entrepreneurial journey, there are bound to be challenging times and the strength of a true entrepreneur is the ability to fight through the hard times and learn from each setback. This year has been especially trying due to the health situation that has impacted businesses globally but these start-ups have shown the resilience to fight through the adversity and succeed.”


Mr Chiu added: “It has been great to see how this batch of start-ups have navigated the past few months to present themselves in a shining light, ready to embrace new opportunities on the international market through Start-up Express’ unique support system. The programme helps entrepreneurs build connections and seek opportunities with potential investors and partners. I look forward to the winning start-ups joining HKStartupSociety and realise their dreams of not only excelling in Hong Kong but on the international stage.”

Helping Hong Kong start-ups expand markets and networks

A key driver for Start-up Express participants has been the opportunity to enhance brand and media awareness, while also connecting with mentors, partners and investors through HKTDC-organised local and overseas events. This has provided start-ups with the chance to learn from experts and strengthen their core business.


Start-Up Express past winners benefitting from new opportunities include Miscato Limited, which developed and patented smart aromatherapy solutions, and Quikec International Limited, which developed a one-stop cloud-based supply chain management solution.


Michelle Fno, Founder & CEO of Miscato Limited, said: “HKTDC’s strong network has helped us land interview opportunities with local and overseas media outlets, which in turn allowed me to share how my company developed our new series of antiviral smart aromatherapy products. Thanks to this increased exposure and HKTDC’s support, we’ve since been able to capture new business opportunities and expand our clientele.”


Peter Li, President and Co-founder of Quikec International Limited said: “Start-up Express has provided us an opportunity to participate in different exhibition and international exchange events. This has helped us expand our client base and find excellent partners despite operating on a tight budget. For example, meeting with Duncan Chiu, a well-known investor, offered many valuable lessons for us as he offered suggestions on business-development strategy.”


HKTDC throws full support behind local start-ups

The HKTDC will continue to fully support the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to maintain Hong Kong’s status as a competitive business city and hub for innovation. To support enterprises, the HKTDC has launched the “HKTDC Transformation Sandbox (T-box)“, offering free support on branding, e-commerce, manufacturing relocation and new market development. A “Voice of Start-ups” series has been launched on the HKTDC online platform to promote the success stories of local start-ups and to show how their creativity and versatility help them thrive and capture local and overseas business opportunities.


In addition to organising Start-up Express, HKTDC will support start-ups by hosting the annual Entrepreneur Day in July. The Council will also set up dedicated start-up zones at its world-class trade fairs in Hong Kong to help local start-ups reach out to overseas buyers and suppliers for potential partnership opportunities.