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(Pictured L-R: Dennis Lo, Miles Wen and Danny Yeung)

The latest business opportunities in Asia came into sharp focus at the 19th Hong Kong Forum, which opened Dec. 4 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center and ran until Dec. 5. Co-organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Federation of Hong Kong Business Associations Worldwide, the event attracted more than 360 business leaders from 30 countries and regions. The 2018 forum included the key topics of innovation and technology, role of start-ups, and development of fin-tech.

The forum was attended by representatives from mainland China as well as Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. As a newly joined member of the FHKBAW, the Hong Kong-Korea Business Association took part in the forum for the first time.

New Technologies and Regional Cooperation

“This year’s event takes place at a challenging time amid the Sino-US trade conflict and with rising concern over the stability of the global economy. At a time of such uncertainty, it is crucial for companies to look further afield for new opportunities,” said Margaret Fong, HKTDC executive director, who delivered the opening remarks at the forum. “The importance of innovation and the huge potential presented by new technologies are currently hot topics in Hong Kong, with I.T. made the key focus in the latest policy address by the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.”

2018’s Hong Kong forum focused on I.T., which examined cutting-edge technologies in the areas of biotech, artificial intelligence, digital healthcare and fin-tech. Speakers discussed how Hong Kong leveraged its advantages to develop a technology hub, while creative forces shared their disruptive ideas that are poised to transform various industries behind some of Hong Kong’s hottest start-ups.

“The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Development is set to build a highly competitive, internationally recognized city cluster and provide abundant new opportunities for local and international businesses alike, especially in the areas of technology and innovation,” said Fong. She added that the free trade agreement and related investment agreement signed between Hong Kong and ASEAN will start to take effect Jan. 2019 to promote investment and trade between the two sides and enhance the city’s role as a two-way investment and business hub.

Cutting-edge Technology Hub

Recent years have seen the rapid development of cutting-edge technologies which helped transform various industries. In the first session of the forum, “The Future of Technology: A Look at Hong Kong’s Emerging Technologies”, Dennis Lo, director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Science and associate dean of the faculty of medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, joined Miles Wen, CEO of Fano Labs, and serial entrepreneur Danny Yeung, CEO of Prenetics, to discuss how Hong Kong can ride on its competitive edge to develop into a technology hub.

Lo said, “The HKSAR Government has in recent years given strong support to the development of cutting-edge technologies, investing H.K. $10 billion in the medical sciences through innovative platforms such as Hong Kong Science Park. Hong Kong is equipped with world-class biotechnology capabilities that have great potential for further development. DNA technology could be made more widely and freely available in Mainland China under the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Development, helping to advance medical technology and benefit more people.”

Start-ups Drive Innovation

Hong Kong’s start-up ecosystem is currently booming. In a session titled “Transformation Underway: Innovative Talents in Hong Kong”, three local start-up entrepreneurs, Eric Gnock Fah, COO and co-founder of Klook, Alan Lam, founder of Concept Infinity Limited, and Norman Cheung, founder of Boxful Technology, share game-changing ideas which help disrupt and transform various industries in the city.

Gnock Fah said, “In the popularization of smartphones, the company has launched a mobile app to make it easier for users to access Klook’s services. The company promotes travel innovation and provides quality services for its users by adopting digital technologies and establishing partnerships with different organizations around the world.”

Technology Changes the Financial Landscape

Technology is sweeping its way through the world’s financial landscape, including in Hong Kong. Executives from leading corporations, Ken Lo, CEO of Branding China Group Ltd, Simon Loong, founder and CEO of WeLab, and Jennifer Tan, CEO of Alipay Payment Services Limited, discussed the disruptive changes that are happening in the industry and the opportunities being brought by new finance-related technologies.

Guest Speakers Share Valuable Insights

Each year, heavyweight speakers are invited to the forum’s luncheons to share their views and insights. “Luncheon Dialogue-Journey of a Pianist” featured renowned Chinese pianist Zhang Shengliang (Niu Niu), who as well as giving a piano performance, shared his musical journey and detailed his road to success via the Hong Kong platform.

On Dec. 5, the speaker at the keynote luncheon, Paul Chan, financial secretary of the HKSAR, introduced Hong Kong’s latest developments and business policies to participants from around the world. He also explained Hong Kong’s establishment to closer cooperative relationships with regional partners and captivity for opportunities presented by the new global economic order.

Zhuhai and Zhongshan: New Bridge Connects Fast-Growing Cities

As a side project of the forum, Iris Wong, the HKTDC’s director of Belt and Road and external relations, led a business delegation to Zhuhai and Zhongshan on Dec. 6-8, travelling from Hong Kong, on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, to survey the investment environment and development prospects in the two cities. The recently opened bridge has established a new transport link between the east and west banks of the Pearl River, helping meet demands for passenger and freight land transport to enhance the economic and sustainable development of Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau.

The delegation includes more than 60 representatives from chambers of commerce from Belt and Road countries, as well as Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States. The group met senior Zhuhai and Zhongshan officials and paid visits to the Guangdong Free Trade Zone, Gree Electric Appliances Inc., Ming Yang Smart Energy Group, and One Point. They also met with Hong Kong entrepreneurs with operations in Zhuhai and Zhongshan to explore cooperation opportunities. The Hong Kong Forum is the annual flagship event of the FHKBAW. Set up in 2000, the Federation has a membership of more than 13,000 business people, with 43 association members from 32 countries and regions.

The HKTDC held five events at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center: the Asian E-tailing Summit (Dec. 5), the HKTDC SmartBiz Expo (Dec. 5-7), the HKTDC Hong Kong International Franchising Show (Dec. 5-7), the Business of IP Asia Forum (Dec. 6-7) and DesignInspire (Dec. 6-8). These events focused on new technology and covered various stages of the supply chain, including research and development, design, production, sales and marketing. They aimed to help small and medium-sized enterprises enhancing their competitiveness, cost-effectiveness to develop new business areas and markets to adapt to the ever-changing economic landscape.

With the help of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the Federation of Hong Kong Business Associations Worldwide was established in 2000. It is a unique network of 42 Hong Kong Business Associations in 31 countries and regions with over 13,000 individual associates. They are Hong Kong’s closest allies and partners in the world market. The Chief Executives is the Federation’s honorary patron and HKTDC serves as its secretariat. For more info, visit http://www.hkfederation.org.hk.

Established in 1966, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council is a statutory body dedicated to creating opportunities for Hong Kong’s businesses. With 50 offices globally, including 13 on the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China, Asia and the world. With more than 50 years of experience, the HKTDC organizes international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to provide companies, particularly SMEs, with business opportunities on the mainland and in international markets, while providing business insights and information via trade publications, research reports and digital channels including the media room. For more info, visit www.hktdc.com/aboutus.

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