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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 17 May 2020


HK’s plant-based packaging startup Ecoinno bags $6m from Alibaba funds

Hong Kong-based green material company Ecoinno has raised $6 million in Series A1 funding from the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund (AEF) and Alibaba Taiwan Entrepreneurs Fund II, according to an announcement. 

Co-founded by CEO George Chen Dah Ren and COO Vivian Chang, Ecoinno was incubated within the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park and received significant grant funding from the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Commission.

The company focuses on providing alternatives to single-use plastics. It has developed a patented Green Composite Material™ based 100 per cent on natural plant fibres. 

Ecoinno said that it plans to use the fresh funding to begin industrial-scale production of GCM™ and to strengthen its material research and engineering platform. 

Alibaba-invested repricing startup Hotelmize eyes expansion in China and Asia

Hotelmize, an Israel-based artificial intelligence startup focusing on hotel repricing technologies, announced earlier it received an undisclosed sum of funding from investors including Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba's entrepreneurs fund in its Series B round.

The not-for-profit Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund aims to "empower startups and young entrepreneurs" in the city, and Hotelmize has pledged that it will establish its Asia Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong, with mainland China as a target market as well.

Dor Krubiner, CEO of Hotelmize, said the investment round had been discussed before the outbreak of the coronavirus, and the investors remained upbeat about the travel industry. “We were in discussion for around three months and Alibaba remains bullish on the travel market.”


Tencent launches video conferencing app VooV Meeting

China’s tech behemoth Tencent has launched VooV Meeting, a Zoom-like video conferencing platform with advanced features to woo consumers in India.

According to several media reports, Tencent launched VooV Meeting on March 20 across Apple App Store and Google Play in more than 100 countries including Malaysia, Singapore, India, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong and Macao.

As of now, the app has seen over 100,000 downloads on Play Store.

The platform is offering its cloud-based video conferencing feature for free for up to 300 attendees and it supports up to 25 attendees at a time.

VooV Meeting is also integrated with WeChat’s ecosystem so that users can share their meeting links and join the conference via WeChat’s mini-program without downloading the app.


Steadview Capital invests in Indian unicorn Nykaa

Asia-focused hedge fund Steadview Capital has invested an additional Rs 67 crore in online beauty retailer Nykaa, as the Ravi Mehta-led investment firm continues its deal-making spree this year.

The latest capital infusion follows the Rs 100 crore Steadview Capital invested in the Mumbai-headquartered company in April.

That had reportedly valued the company at about $1.2 billion, in the process catapulting it into the unicorn club, or those startups that command a valuation of $1 billion and upwards.

This is the latest deal struck by the Hong Kong and London-based investment firm in the current calendar year.


WeChat launches personal credit rating for 600m users

In major news, WeChat Pay has announced a change to its 600 million users. It will now be giving them a credit rating – called "payment points". These will be calculated by an artificial intelligence system based on consumers' personal and credit records, plus habits and other factors said to represent users "credibility".

This system will also be applied to people who play online games. Tencent will give users a "trust" value. A high "payment points" score indicates "deep understanding" of users, and Tencent will nominate users as "trustworthy", or not.

WeChat believes its "payment points" will be Tencent's personal information credit system, performing a similar function to personal credit rating systems such as Equifax. So small commercial institutions, including banks, will choose use the credit report for personal credit evaluation, Tencent hopes.

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