Organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the second edition of the SmartBiz Expo and the fourth Hong Kong International Franchising Show both ran at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center from Dec. 5-7. The twin events attracted more than 650 local, mainland Chinese and overseas exhibitors to offer enterprise development solutions and innovations that can help to upgrade businesses, improve profitability and enhance franchising opportunities. Various seminars were held during the event where industry experts covered topics including Industry 4.0, the development of smart cities, e-commerce and franchising strategies.

Paul Chan, financial secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, officiated and delivered the opening remarks at the joint opening ceremony for SmartBiz Expo and another HKTDC event, the Asian E-tailing Summit. Welcoming delegates to the expo, HKTDC Executive Director Margaret Fong said, “Global issues such as the ongoing trade conflict between China and the United States make it all the more important for businesses to work in a smarter way, and be more responsive to new developments. The SmartBiz Expo is all about getting companies up to speed with the latest business solutions, creative ideas and cutting-edge technologies – helping you to seek out new opportunities and drive your businesses forward.”

Upgrading Businesses Under Industry 4.0

The SmartBiz Expo has attracted more than 520 exhibitors from 40 countries and regions, providing a range of business solutions and innovative ideas. Companies adopt new technologies: Internet of Things, cloud computing, robotics and automation. This streamline helps the production process, reduction cost, efficiency, productivity and innovation to launch new products and services that increase profitability. Various exhibitors, such as the Logistics and Supply Chain MultiTech R&D Center, Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel Limited, and the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute, offer AI and automation solutions to assist different industries in upgrading their business.

Seminars were arranged to explore issues relating to Industry 4.0 on the first day of the expo. Representatives from the Hong Kong Productivity Council and INC Invention Center joined industry experts to examine the opportunities and challenges presented by Industry 4.0. Other seminars covered issues such as cloud computing, IoT, automation and smart robotics, helping participants to get a stronger understanding of Industry 4.0’s potential learning about the latest developments, applications and supporting solutions on the market.

Smart City Opportunities

All major cities are developing into smart cities and Hong Kong is no exception. Besides large-scale projects involving network coverage, transportation and urban development, there are new opportunities for different industries and small and medium-sized enterprises in the area of smart city development. The expo featured exhibitors showcasing smart products, applications and solutions for household use, office use, and for deployment in the industrial and services sectors.

The second day of the expo featured a series of smart city-related seminars. Representatives from the Office of the Government CIO and Electrical and Mechanical Services Department of the HKSAR, as well as the HK Wireless Technology Industry Association, explained the Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong. In addition, representatives from major technology companies, including Canon, Cisco, Google, Huawei, Microsoft and Siemens, shared their insights on issues such as big data, IoT and new jobs in the digital era.

E-commerce Market Expands

The e-commerce market has been growing rapidly in recent years, bringing in new distribution channels and revolutionizing the retailing ecosystem. The E-commerce Pavilion, comprising the E-Commerce Association of H.K., H.K. Cross-border E-Commerce Association, H.K. Top 10 E-Commerce Club, H.K. Federation of E-commerce, H.K. General Chamber of Cross-border E-commerce, H.K. Internet & E-commerce Association, H.K. Entrepreneurs Association and the H.K. O2O E-commerce Federation, provided support and professional advice for companies looking to develop an e-commerce business. The zone also featured various services providers covering market research, branding strategies, online platform choices, sales management, logistics and supply chain management, digital marketing and large data analysis to provide visitors with one-stop e-commerce support service.

On the third day of the expo, experts spoke at a series of seminars discussing e-commerce platforms, conversational commerce, e-commerce logistics and last-mile delivery, all of which were aimed at helping SMEs prepare for the new world of e-commerce business.

Themed Zones Spotlight Innovation, Cross-border Opportunities

The expo was divided into several themed zones. Techtopia showcased the latest technological applications that help businesses innovate and upgrade. Boosters provided comprehensive business solutions to help SMEs stay competitive. Pathfinder gathered exhibitors from 30 countries and regions to foster opportunities, including the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area Pavilion, where nine major cities from Guangdong province shared their economic developments and priority industries to help SMEs capture Greater Bay Area opportunities. Hatchery featured about 50 local and overseas innovation and technology start-ups, showcasing their innovative services and products and enabling them to meet with potential partners and investors. Envision Lot gathered creations from some 140 inventors, with highlights including the first Asia Exhibition of Inventions H.K., organized by the H.K. Exporters Association in partnership with Palexpo, showcasing inventions from some 40 local and Mainland Chinese inventors.

Seminars Help SMEs Capture Opportunities

To help provide a one-stop support platform for SMEs, a number of thematic seminars were organized in response to recent trade situations and market developments. They included “The Way Forward for Hong Kong’s SMEs under the China-US Trade War,” organized by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Small and Medium Business, which examines the current foreign trade environment; and the “InnoTech for Branding” seminar series, which explained the use of blockchain, inventory management, social media and other innovative technologies in raising brand value. Other seminar topics covered Greater Bay Area and ASEAN opportunities, the Halal food market and brand inheritance.

Franchising Show Fosters Entrepreneurs

Held concurrently with SmartBiz Expo, the fourth HKIFS attracted more than 130 exhibitors from 13 countries and regions. The exhibition featured four zones: the Hong Kong Food and Beverage zone, Hong Kong Non-Food and Beverage zone, Chinese Mainland zone and International zone, all of which offered plenty of franchising opportunities across different sectors. Participating brands included Kam Cha, Woo Hong Kong Snacks, Taiwan-style beverage brand Chun Feng Milk House, Subway restaurant, the 7-Eleven convenience store, STEAM education center TECHBOB Academy, ANVIO VR Gaming Center and 24/7 Fitness. Franchising consultants and agencies were among the exhibitors offering franchising solutions to help brand owners expand their business.

During the fair period, a series of discussions provided practical tips for franchising, covering subjects such as kick-starting a franchising business, franchising management technologies, digital word-of-mouth and franchising in Belt and Road markets. The Brand Briefing seminar series allowed participants to understand each franchising brand’s characteristics and business strategies. Visitors also joined Franchising Demo events to try out the products and services of different brands.

Concurrent Events Explore IP Management and Innovative Design

The HKTDC held five events at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center during the shows: 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 value chain, including research and development, design, production, sales and marketing. They aimed to help small and medium-sized enterprises enhance their competitiveness and cost-effectiveness and develop new business areas and markets to adapt to the ever-changing economic landscape.

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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