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Inaugural SmartBiz Expo & International Franchising Show in Hong Kong

Organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the inaugural SmartBiz Expo and the Hong Kong International Franchising Show opened last week at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Together, the twin events, which ran from Dec. 6-8, generate synergy and showcase value-adding and versatile business solutions for small- and medium-sized enterprises to grasp the latest business opportunities.

“With the challenges and opportunities posed by the changing economic landscape and evolving digital era, the HKTDC is pleased to launch the SmartBiz Expo to provide companies with timely insights, inspiration and a platform for interaction,” said HKTDC Executive Director Margaret Fong (pictured right) at the opening ceremony. She added, “SmartBiz Expo is a unique cross-industry platform spotlighting innovative business solutions, creative ideas and cutting-edge technologies.”

Featuring more than 500 exhibitors from 43 countries and regions, SmartBiz Expo aimed to enhance SMEs’ competitiveness and encourage them to explore technology and innovations. The fair was divided into several themed zones: Techtopia, Envision Lot, Boosters, Hatchery, Pathfinder and Muses. Techtopia zone displayed an array of technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) applications from established companies, such as VTM Digital Ltd., Win Win Industrial Co Ltd., and Alibaba Group Services Ltd.

For companies seeking to sharpen their competitive edge, Boosters zone offered the latest technology, from cloud and e-commerce systems, to branding and financial services. Meanwhile, Envision Lot zone exhibited inventions and research findings from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Europe and Asia. In addition, Hatchery zone served as a promotion platform for local and overseas start-ups to pitch their businesses to potential business partners. Another highlight was the Pathfinder zone, which gathered exhibitors from countries and regions including Saudi Arabia, Canada and Indonesia, to foster opportunities in investment partnership among Belt and Road countries and regions, particularly within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area.

Industry experts unveiled latest AI and tech trends and opportunities under Industry 4.0

During the three-day event, more than 20 seminars were held to cater to the needs of SMEs. The series was to systematically help companies explore the latest global market trends, identify challenges and introduce various innovative solutions through real case-sharing sessions, as well as unveil the latest industry technologies. Industry experts examined global market conditions, business opportunities in AI, technological innovation and marketing strategies, as well as the latest trends in online shopping and social media. Speakers included Herbert Chia, venture partner of Sequoia Capital China; Leo Liu, Alibaba Cloud general manager (HK, Macau, Taiwan & Korea Region); Andrew Young, IBM China/Hong Kong Ltd commercial sales unit executive; Gerardo Salandra, CEO and founder of Rocketbots; and David Tang, CEO of BeeHive Network Information Technology Ltd. To help businesses harness new opportunities and inspiration, the HKTDC also hosted a three-day “FitBiz Rendezvous” programme, featuring a series of thematic forums and seminars, multiple pitching sessions and inventors, as well as tech-savvy demonstrations.

In addition, with the rising trend in product and service customization, a seminar, co-organized by the HKTDC and the Hong Kong Productivity Council, explored how manufactures can adopt smart production with ‘Industry 4.0’ by integrating their business and production processes. In addition, the seminar series “InnoTech for Branding – From Surviving to Growing,” co-organized by the HKTDC and the Trade and Industry Department, spotlighted cost-effective marketing strategies for companies to grow in a competitive business setting. Topics covered included branding with virtual reality, online marketing and big data, with the aim of helping SMEs formulate efficient branding strategies. A series of business-matching and networking events were also held to expand business connections with potential partners from around the world.

Franchising – an alternative for new business opportunities

The booming franchising sector in recent years has inspired young entrepreneurs and SMEs to adopt the business model. With its strategic geographic location and diversity, Hong Kong has developed into a regional franchising hub for many international brands expanding to Asia.

The Hong Kong International Franchising Show returned in its third edition for companies and entrepreneurs looking for franchising brands to identify business partners and gain franchising tips. The event gathered 130 exhibitors from such places as Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia and the United States, with zones covering catering, retail, education and various services industries. Well-known brands, including popular local music institute, Parkland; the health-food brand, bless; local pet training institute, Dogaroo; intelligent vending machine, iAPP, and Korea’s popular Nolboo were among the participating exhibitors.

The “Franchising and Wealth Building” seminar series featured industry experts and leaders from around the world who shared franchising success cases and the latest trends. In particular, a seminar featuring prominent industry representatives from Tai Hing Worldwide Development Ltd, Tao Heung Group, and Maxim’s Group shared the latest innovations and developments in Hong Kong’s competitive F&B sector. The seminar series also spotlighted such topics as franchising business management from afar, innovative business concepts for catering, and franchising opportunities in the Chinese mainland. A series of networking and business-matching activities were held to assist companies to expand their business networks and foster cooperation.

The HKTDC concurrently staged the Asian E-tailing Summit (Dec. 6), the Business of IP Asia Forum (Dec. 7-8), and DesignInspire (Dec. 7-9), at the HKCEC for companies to get the latest market information and foster cross-industry cooperation.

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