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Hong Kong Startup News Round Up - 20180325

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SFC asks to halt an ICO

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), an independent body dedicated to regulate securities and futures, raised concerns over the “potential unauthorized promotional activities and unlicensed regulated activities” by Black Cell Technology, an initial coin offering issuer. This is the first firm in Hong Kong to be asked to halt its initial coin offering by the regulatory body.

Black Cell intended to sell digital tokens on its website - investors would be financing a mobile application in return for receiving shares in the company. It was this feature that alerted the regulatory authority, who has classed the token as a security. The project has complied with the official verdict by ceasing the token sale, and investors have been told their cryptocurrency will be returned.

HK in the top 3 most start-up friendly countries in APAC 

Top 4 and reasons why they are fertile breeding grounds for the startup ecosystem

1. Singapore

According to the World Bank, Singapore ranks 2nd on the world’s best countries to conduct business. It has a financially stable and wealthy system ($52,962 GDP per capita), has low unemployment rate (2.15%) and has ____ internet accessibility (81%). In addition, there are tax incentives for small businesses and has the highest education rates (42% of working adults have post-secondary educations) in Asia.

2. Hong Kong (tied with Japan)

Hong Kong has long been established as a strategically and well developed institutional and financial hub, these qualities could easily be translated to be beneficial for startups. According to the World Bank, Hong Kong is listed as the world’s 3rd best city to start a business. It has a low interest rates and taxes, high cost of living (2nd globally), and similar to Singapore, high GDP per capita ($43,741) and low unemployment rates.

2. Japan (tied with Hong Kong)

The Japanese population’s comprehensive internet access (93%), low interest rates, as well as its status as one of the world’s most educated workforce (86% with at least a secondary degree) provides incentives for startups to establish themselves in the country. However, some limitations would be the high corporate tax rates, salary expectations and that fact that it is an expensive country to start a business.

4. Taiwan

5. Malaysia

6. South Korea

7. China

8. India

9. Indonesia (tied with Thailand)

9. Thailand (tied with Indonesia)

11. Philippines

12. Vietnam

Uber’s Self-Driving vehicle kills woman 

According to the Tempe Police Department, at around 10p.m. on Sunday (18th March), Elaine Herzberg, 49, was struck by an Uber vehicle on autonomous mode under the supervision of a human safety driver while crossing the road in Tempe, Arizona. She was sent to a nearby hospital, where she died from her injuries.

The following day, Uber made a public statement stating a halt with their self-driving vehicle tests on public roads in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, the greater Phoenix area, and Toronto.

Other companies such Alphabet Inc., General Motors Co. and Baidu Inc. are all racing to commercialize the technology, but the incident raises concerns for the potential growing number in fatalities and how to ensure safety when using the technology.

HKTDC invites applications for new Startups Incubator Program 

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) has launched their new program Start-up Express to help startups grow. According to Raymond Yip, the acting Executive Director of HKTDC, this initiative aims to “connect entrepreneurs with potential partners and investors, and “help them expand business in the global market through a wide range of programs” in order to “quickly penetrate the business and build global business connections in world-class events”.

Startups of under 5 years and receives less than US$10 million in funding may be selected for the program with five components, including workshops, high-level meetings, ‘study missions’ and marketing opportunities at overseas trade events.

Applications for Start-up Express close on 16th April.

Company builder “Entrepreneur First” launches in HK 

Entrepreneur First, a company builder backed by Silicon Valley’s Greylock Partners, has been expanding their reach from their base in London, to Singapore, Berlin and now in Hong Kong as well. The Hong Kong program will commence in July, and similar to the Berlin structure, will run for 3 months per cohort. Teams formed during the Hong Kong program may also be qualified to join its Singapore demo day.

Their mission is to rally experts of different fields and pair them up to co-found new startups. According to the co-founder, Matt Clifford, the Berlin program was able to start running and recruiting its first cohort in around 2 months, a vast leap from the 9 months set up in Singapore. According to the co-founders, they believe Hong Kong is breeding grounds for their Asian ambitions.

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