HKUST Unicorn Day: Where Ideas Meet Action

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First University in Hong Kong to Invest in Entrepreneurship

HKUST Unicorn Day: Where Ideas Meet Action

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A group photo of distinguished guests and HKUST senior management
A group photo of distinguished guests and HKUST senior management [Download Photo]

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) saw the return of nearly 100 innovators in celebration of its first Unicorn Day today. These HKUST-grown entrepreneurs, who have helped found five unicorns or listed companies and close to 90 start-ups – including quick-rising companies hopeful to become the next-in-line unicorns, exchanged insights and explored partnership opportunities with industry players, potential investors, academics and government officials in this day-long event.

As the city’s first university to invest in entrepreneurship, the HKUST Unicorn Day showcased innovations from all its participating start-ups and hosted four pitching sessions to potential investors. Unicorn founders were invited to share their success stories, while new industrial collaborations and new initiative to strengthen bonding among HKUST entrepreneurs were announced. The event has attracted around 600 guests from business sectors and government bodies – including representatives from seven Consulate Generals.

The Commissioner for Innovation and Technology (Acting) of the HKSAR Government Mr. Arthur AU, said in the opening speech of the event, “The Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) has launched the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities (TSSSU) since 2014 to support local university teams in establishing technology businesses and commercialising R&D results. Up to now, we have provided about $400 million to nearly 500 start-ups, and HKUST accounts for the biggest number of these TSSSU start-ups. Today’s event provides an excellent platform to pool smart people and smart money and together create smart start-ups. I look forward to witnessing more success stories from start-ups of HKUST in the years ahead.”

HKUST President Prof. Nancy IP said, “HKUST is the first university in Hong Kong to emphasize entrepreneurship, and such efforts have paid off with the many innovations such as those showcased in today’s event that benefit the society. HKUST will continue to expand ties with different stakeholders to help strengthen the city’s research capabilities, diversify employment opportunities and fuel innovation development across the region.”

HKUST (Guangzhou) (HKUST(GZ)) President Prof. Lionel NI said HKUST(GZ) carries the same DNA of entrepreneurship and innovation as HKUST, adding that HKUST(GZ) will invite faculty members, students and alumni from HKUST to showcase their achievements at an event to be held in June in celebration of HKUST(GZ)’s first year anniversary of formal establishment. Meanwhile, Prof. Tim CHENG, HKUST Vice-President for Research & Development, talked about the HKUST roadmap to entrepreneurial success and how it has led to the development of a robust and thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Greater Bay Area.

Prof. LI Zexiang, Professor of Electronic and Computer Engineering at HKUST and a legendary entrepreneur who helped nurture five unicorns and numerous start-ups, explained the essence in building a start-up ecosystem in the Greater Bay Area. Mr. JIA Xiaodong, an HKUST alumnus who founded GalaSports – the first publicly-listed mobile sports game developer in Hong Kong, also shared his entrepreneurship journey and discussed how to build a billion-dollar business with investors and start-up executives in a panel session.

To help bond the University’s graduated entrepreneurs and provide necessary support in their business journeys, HKUST also announced the establishment of HKUST Founder’s Club (Club) today. Selected start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as deep technology companies created by HKUST members will be invited to join the Club. Apart from receiving free entrepreneurship training, potential investment opportunities, business matching services and R&D collaboration opportunities with HKUST professors, the Club will also nominate members to different incubation or accelerator programs hosted by the University’s external partners such as Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP) or Hong Kong Cyberport.

At the event today, HKUST also unveiled two new collaborations. One with the Fosun Foundation, Fosun International and the Shaw Foundation on exploring collaborative opportunities in driving innovation, promoting entrepreneurship and other knowledge transfer activities; the other one with the Shenzhen Angel FOF to drive GBA’s development in innovation and technology through supporting the commercialization of HKUST technologies and its R&D outcomes under the Innovation and Technology Development Blueprint rolled out by the HKSAR Government.

As a research-focused university, HKUST has accumulated over 30 years of strength in deep technologies – spanning health technology, AI, robotics, big data, fintech and renewable energy. Backed by a strong entrepreneurial culture and a network consisting of over 600 local, regional and international industrial and governmental partners, HKUST members have founded 1,645 active start-ups, including nine Unicorns and 11 exits (IPO or M&A), generating economic impact worth over HK$400 billion. According to Nature’s Leading 200 academic institutions by patent influence metric published in 2022, HKUST ranked the first in China and 33rd globally.

(This news was originally published by the HKUST Public Affairs Office here.)

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