06 Oct.

Our People, our stories - East Asia: Oct 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are facing different kinds of challenges and started new ways to deal with them. Starting from February, we will have different alumni from East Asia region to share their insights and stories in the newsletter and monthly What's On in 2021.

A Future Reimagined by Digital Technology
Ir. Eric Chan

In the past year or so, we have witnessed Hong Kong’s resilience and agility amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world continues to adapt to the new normal, digital innovation is leading the way through providing relief and allowing us to overcome challenges during this health crisis. Technology is also enabling rapid digital transformation throughout society, allowing Hong Kong Cyberport and its community of over 1700 start-ups and technology companies to capture emerging opportunities. My job as Chief Public Mission Officer in Cyberport looks after the development of the start-up ecosystem. We nurture start-ups through our entrepreneurship/incubation programmes and partner networks, with the aim to develop Hong Kong as an international innovation hub.

Cyberport is one of the key start-up incubators in Hong Kong and aims to elevate digital technology to become a key economic driver for the city through its three public missions, namely “Talent Cultivation”, “Industry Development”, and “Integration of Traditional and New Economies”. We are the base for all four of Hong Kong licensed virtual insurers, two of its licensed virtual banks, five of its unicorns, as well as the biggest FinTech community in Hong Kong with nearly 400 FinTech companies covering blockchain, cybersecurity, virtual banking, InsurTech, RegTech, wealth management tech, and more.

While the pandemic continues to bring serious challenges, people have increasingly utilised technology to navigate the new normal. For example, multiple lockdowns and social distancing have led to the growth of remote working solutions such as Zoom, which saw their sales in the last three months of 2020 rise by 370% compared to 2019*. For similar reasons, EdTech and eCommerce have emerged as rapidly growing technology sectors. HolonIQ, a market intelligence firm specialising in the global education market, reports that venture capital investments in EdTech in 2020 doubled to USD 16 Billion, compared to 2018**. The Adobe Digital Economy Index reported that, in 2020, USD 813 billion was spent shopping online, a 42% growth over 2019. In fact, shoppers saw ‘Out of Stock’ messages much more often compared to pre-pandemic periods, as retailers struggled to meet the demand***.

Last year, Cyberport capitalised on this momentous shift to take forward its public missions by supporting more entrepreneurs and stepping up efforts to bridge conventional industries to our start-up. At the same time, we also recognised the demand for innovative solutions to address challenges in all facets of life. Under the “Braving the Epidemic” campaign, Cyberport gathered over 70 digital solutions developed by our community members that could help fight the pandemic. For example, logistics platform start-ups GOGOX, pickupp, and Toby, worked with the Department of Health to provide safe delivery services to transport COVID-19 testing specimens to government labs. The campaign manifested our commitment to social well being through entrepreneurship and featured the breadth, depth, and social impact of our start-ups. 

The world is moving towards digitalisation at a blistering pace and is set to kick into even higher gear once the COVID-19 pandemic stabilises. Our work will be further augmented by the completion of the expansion of the Cyberport campus in 2025, providing more space to accommodate top-calibre start-ups around the globe and add to the vibrancy of the Cyberport ecosystem, which will enhance our standing as an international I&T hub. Entirely new vistas of exploration are unfolding before us, and the future is being reimagined right here at Cyberport. 

sources from:
* : https://www.bbc.com/news/business-56247489
** : https://www.holoniq.com/edtech/10-charts-that-explain-the-global-education-technology-market/
*** : https://blog.adobe.com/en/publish/2021/03/15/adobe-digital-economy-index-covid-19-report.html#gs.91plnj

*The views and opinions expressed in this section are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial positions of UoM East Asia Centre.

Manchester Global MBA Alumnus: Ir. Eric Chan

Chief Public Mission Officer 
Hong Kong Cyberport

Eric is in charge of building the ecosystem of nurturing start-ups from inspiring the next generation, through nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit, to empowering global ambition, by providing comprehensive entrepreneurship programmes and early stage funding.

Eric has 32 years of experience in the ICT industry, a chartered engineer, a chartered marketer and a fellow of Institution of Engineering & Technology (UK). Prior to joining Cyberport, Eric was a Director of HGC Global Communication; and had held various senior positions in global telecom and IT services companies including PCCW, PCCW Consulting Services, Cable & Wireless HKT. Eric has been active in public services, especially in education and industrial training, professional bodies and charitable organisations. Eric is the Chairman of Knowledge Management Development Center, Vice Chairman of Industrial Training Advisory Committee (ICT) and a member of Curriculum Development Council. He also serves as advisor and mentor at the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Eric holds a BSc. (Hon) degree in Engineering from University of London, a Master degree in Business Administration from Manchester Business School, and received Executive Education from INSEAD and IESE business schools.