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Hong Kong Startup News Round Up - 27 May 2018

5 in 5 minutes

Alibaba, SenseTime, HKSTP to Launch AI Lab in HK

Alibaba partners with Hong Kong’s AI startup SenseTime to launch an AI lab which aims to create more opportunities and innovation with a platform that brings together industry with talent. The HKAI Lab, which launches on 28th May, is supported by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) and will have a six-month accelerator program with two rounds of applications each year, selecting 10 successful startups for HK$100,000 funding and other resources.

Alibaba and SenseTime agreed to invest over HK$10 million in this project. They are also planning on nurturing prospective startups by offering them deep learning platforms. “The lab will serve as a platform to bridge academia and industry,” said Prof. Xiao’ou Tang, founder of SenseTime. “We aspire to create new opportunities for young people in Hong Kong.”

Alibaba-backed KR Space debuts in HK with 7-floor Wan Chai Lease

Alibaba-backed KR Space is leasing 7 stories in 1 Hennessy building in Wan Chai, a 10-minute walk from the Wan Chai MTR Station. It will pay about HK$6.6 million per month for an area of 83,000 square feet, over HK$80 per square foot. Hong Kong will be its first center outside of mainland China, and while waiting for the tower to be open to business, the co-working space is also looking to open in other locations in the city.

According to Sean Qian, vice-president of Kr Space, they "are hoping to attract top-notch companies in finance, technology and other sectors to become our tenants". The company is trying to follow the footsteps of China’s biggest co-working space operator Ucommune, as well as aiming to be on the same level as WeWork in two to three years.

The startup for the moment has developed 40 co-working locations as a total, in ten mainland China locations (Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Wuhan), and with a total of 95% of occupancy.

Tencent-backed cancer detection HK startup Grail raises $300m in Series C

Tencent-backed Grail Inc, an HK and US-based healthcare startup that seeks to detect cancer at its curable stage, has raised $300 million in an oversubscribed Series C financing round joined by Chinese investors, including venture capital firm Sequoia Capital China. Grail’s early backers include Tencent Holdings Ltd., China’s biggest internet company, Bill Gates, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. A Bloomberg report said the company is boosting growth ahead of a planned initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Grail’s programs include two large-scale studies: creating cell-free nucleic acid profiles, and developing specific and sensitive blood tests for early detection of cancer types. Grail plans to expand in Asia specifically, launching its first product in Hong Kong for early detection of nasopharyngeal cancer (a rare type of head and neck cancer) this year.

HK launches capsule rest hotel SLEEEP : the “dream incubator”

Being very dense, HK has high light pollution, micro-apartments, cage-homes, long commutes - citizens are commonly affected by sleep deprivation. 65% of Hong Kong adults nap: they are proved to improve alertness and mood. Covering just 367 square feet, SLEEEP houses eight award-winning capsules, called SLPers, each big enough for one person to sit up or lie down in. Located in a 365-square feet site in Sheung Wan, SLEEEP offers 45-120 min of resting for $12-25.

SLEEEP provides a good alternative to booking a large private room to sleep in, by sharing these common areas and utilities in a very convenient way: it has a cardless system for checking-in and accessing your capsule, choosing your preferred mattress density and bedding.

Co-working spaces in Asia surge 150% & doubles operation in 3 years

Asia Pacific is leading the global surge in flexible offices with total co-working and serviced office space in the region soaring 150 percent from 2014 to 2017, according to a new report by property consultancy JLL.

According to JLL, the number of major co-working operators in Asia Pacific more than doubled from 45 to 103 in the 2014-2017 period. The rapid growth of the sector is all the more remarkable given the various obstacles to co-working adoption in Asia, such as the availability of short lease terms for traditional offices, which takes the edge off many companies’ appetite for flexible space. Hong Kong, ranks lowest with just over one percent in flexible office penetration rate with about 100,0002m of net lettable area.

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