HKTDC Launches New “Start-up Express” Incubation Programme

Powering Start-ups for Connections, New Markets and Investment

19 March 2018The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) has launched a new incubation programme, Start-up Express, to help start-ups build networks, market business and attract investment. Each of the 10 winnersis entitled to joina series of top-notch marketing activities in Hong Kong and overseas, worth about HK$160,000, for free.


“Nurturing start-ups and a new generation of entrepreneurs who embrace new technologies and have a global perspective is key to maintaining Hong Kong’s long-term competitiveness,” said Raymond Yip, HKTDC Acting Executive Director. “Start-up Express is our new initiative to connect new entrepreneurs with potential partners and investors, and help them expand businesses in the global market through a wide range of programmes.”

The programme is set up in five stages:

“Know the Basics”- Induction workshops to equip start-ups with the essential business skills and market intelligence;

“Be Enlightened”- Meet-ups with successful leaders and entrepreneurs in small private settings to learn their secrets to success;

“Explore the Market” – Study missions to visit a city in the Bay Area to find new business opportunities and potential partners;

“Spread Your Wings”- Participate in relevant HKTDC exhibitions or overseas trade promotion events to connect with buyers and investors;

“Rise Above” – “NiCubator,” set up by actor and entrepreneur Nicholas Tse, may assist in brand promotion.

Full support from business leaders

Start-ups set up for less than five years with core or substantial operations in Hong Kong, and have raised less than US$10 million in funding are eligible to join Start-up Express. Applications close on 16 April. Please visit: for details. A total of 40 start-ups will be shortlisted for a closed-door pitching session, with 20 finalists selected to join the Pitching Contest during the HKTDC Entrepreneur Day on 18 May.

Leading business leaders, including Vincent HS Lo, HKTDC Chairman; Dr Victor Fung, GroupChairman, Fung Group; Daryl Ng, DeputyChairman, Sino Group; and Neil Shen, Founding and Managing Partner, Sequoia Capital China will share their experience with start-up participants during a series of power meet-ups.

Antony Leung, Group Chairman, Nan Fung Group; Duncan Chiu, CEO and co-founder, Radiant Venture Capital; Erica Ma, co-founder and Community Advisor, Cocoon; and Joe Lee, co-founder, Kuaidi Group; will be among the panel of judges.

Opportunities to explore new market

The 10 top performing start-ups will enjoy a series of power meet-ups, study missions and trade promotions for free, including eight HKTDC local exhibitions and conference that have a “Startup Zone”: Asian Financial Forum, Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition) and International ICT Expo, Hong Kong Houseware Fair, Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair, Hong Kong International Medical Devices and Supplies Fair, Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition), Eco Expo Asia and SmartBiz Expo, as well as HKTDC overseas flagship events, such as In Style • Hong Kong in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Lifestyle Expo in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

In addition, they may join the Hong Kong Pavilion at international exhibitions, such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas, USA, Gulf Information Technology Exhibition and China Hi-Tech Fair, to gain first-hand market information. “Start-up Express is unique in that it helps start-ups quickly penetrate the business world and build global business connections in world-class events,” said Mr Yip.

Inspirations from successful start-ups

Two successful entrepreneurs, Ricky Lui, Chief Operating Officer, ConnectAR;  and Wesley Ng, CEO and co-founder, Casetify; attended a press event today to share how they identify business opportunities through marketing activities.

ConnectAR’s marketing tool, SnapPop, is equipped with Augmented Reality (AR) and image- recognition technology to let users receive marketing materials when they snap or scan through real scenes. The company attracted several potential clients at the HKTDC SmartBiz Expo 2017. A Japanese stationery designer expressed interest in applying SnapPop’s AR technology on his products. “Southeast Asia is our first-stop overseas,” said Mr Lui. “Some retail shops have already used SnapPop on a trial basis.”

From start-up to HK$100-million business, Casetify has won the hearts of football superstar Lionel Messi, NBA star player Kobe Bryant and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, by standing out in the market with its quality, functionality and personalisation capabilities. Casetify CEO & co-founder Wesley Ng said the proliferation of copycats in the market make it important to be forward-looking and innovative to stay ahead of the curve. “For example, we partner with artists to launch designer phone case series. We’ve also introduced the military-grade anti-break phone case.” Mr Ng regularly attends HKTDC events to share his experience with would-be entrepreneurs.

Full participation from universities and venture capital firms

Our Hong Kong Foundation is the official partner of Start-up Express, while Hong Kong X Foundation and Beyond Ventures are signature sponsors. “Start-up Express offers start-ups a platform to learn, grow and interact as they take the path to success,” said Eva Cheng, Executive Director, Our Hong Kong Foundation.

The programme also has the support of “NiCubator,” a project set up by actor and entrepreneur Nicholas Tse, as well as 17 universities, research institutions and start-up related associations and organisations, such as the Hong Kong Business Angel Network.

Hong Kong Business Angel Network Chairman Dr Samson Tam said: “We will fully leverage our organisation’s angel network and experience to serve as a bridge between young enterprises and investors, and help start-ups develop their businesses.”

Beyond Ventures co-founder and Managing Partner Lap Man will identify potential start-ups and help them expand business overseas. Hong Kong X Foundation Executive Director Linshan Mu said the foundation supports local youth to set up their own businesses and ride on Bay Area opportunities. “We will collaborate with the HKTDC to help start-ups capture new business opportunities around the world.” Chef Nic Holdings Ltd co-founder Derek Yeung said some of the winners may have opportunities to appear in a TV programme hosted by Nicholas Tse.

HKTDC’s new services for entrepreneurs

HKTDC Acting Executive Director Raymond Yip said the Council will introduce more SME and start-up-focused services, while providing business and entrepreneurial opportunities for the younger generation to encourage them to think global when expanding their business.

The HKTDC will also develop a Start-up Portal and build an online community, featuring star mentors.For start-ups that have been operating for three years or more, the HKTDC will launch “Startup-Plus”, a special pricing package for participation in the Council’s exhibition and promotional services.

About the HKTDC

Established in 1966, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is a statutory body dedicated to creating opportunities for Hong Kong’s businesses. With more than 40 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 over 50 years of experience, the HKTDC organises 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 information, please visit: