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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 2 February 2020


StartmeupHK Festival 2020 to be postponed due to health concerns

In light of the current situation relating to the coronavirus, WHub, Invest Hong Kong and other key partners of the StartmeupHK Festival 2020 have agreed to postpone the festival, originally scheduled for 10-15 February. We will keep you informed of the new dates, possibly in July 2020. Thank you for your support and understanding!

However, the Global Startup Competition is in full action with the Bangalore roadshow an extreme success and the virtual roadshow receiving an overwhelming amount of applications.

Startup Impact Summit, which will be held possibly in July,  aims to nurture entrepreneurs, corporates, students, investors, into socially minded change makers, and the SDG track specifically aims to help the audience gain practical tips & tools to start and scale a project with a meaningful purpose, with the support of the ecosystem. This year we are putting more focus on the 17 UN goals to raise awareness among the entrepreneurs and enablers of the cutting-edge technologies and businesses about the social and environmental impact they are able to create.  We were so proud and humbled to have Kenneth in Davos sharing our #StartupPassion and our commitment to bring more awareness on the Un Goal to every business and stakeholders  for more purpose driven aim.

Hong Kong proprietary messaging start-up latest winner of UK award, eyes access to country’s US$8.6 billion fintech sector

Hong Kong start-up LeapXpert, which has developed a proprietary messaging platform that helps companies guard against former employees poaching clients, has won the UK Department for International Trade’s fintech award in the gold category.

The award, in its fifth year, provides winners with access to the United Kingdom’s £6.6 billion (US$8.6 billion) financial technology sector with a week of networking opportunities in London and Scotland. Its previous winners include Hong Kong artificial intelligence unicorn SenseTime.

LeapXpert’s win is a sign that technology start-ups from the former British colony are using the business links it has with the UK to access a wider market, for clients as well as funding. While SenseTime had already attracted sizeable private funding by the time was selected as a gold winner in 2017, LeapXpert has thus far only raised one round of funding. The award might help it attract more global venture capital. The company hopes to leverage the award as it competes with not only other Hong Kong start-ups, but those from mainland China and Singapore as well.

International start-ups still see Hong Kong as a fundraising centre despite social unrest

Young international start-ups – and the investors who back them – still see Hong Kong as a key fundraising hub despite almost eight months of social unrest that have savaged the economy, according to the city’s first equity crowdfunding platform.

AngelHub, which was licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission last April as the first crowdfunding platform for professional investors to back growth stage start-ups, has completed three deals already.

And an international competition for start-ups to win a fundraising windfall has had no shortage of applicants. “We have received over 500 applications from start-ups around the world to join this fundraising competition programme and nobody has expressed any worry about coming to Hong Kong to attend the grand final event,” said AngelHub co-founder and chief executive Karen Contet Farzam.

“This demonstrates that Hong Kong is a fundraising hub for start-ups and offering great investment opportunities.”

The platform recently held a mega round of fundraising which helped Pomelo, a Thai fashion e-commerce start-up, to raise US$52 million in fresh funding from a group of investors including some leading venture capital companies such as Jungle Ventures, JD.com and Thai retailer Central Group. Two smaller deals raised a combined US$2.5 million, according to Contet Farzam.

Raffles Family Office to invest $15m in HK-based co-working space WorkTech

Raffles Family Office (RFO), a Hong Kong-based asset management firm announced on Wednesday that it is investing $15 million (SGD$20.4 million) in WorkTech, a Hong Kong- headquartered co-working ecosystem operator. 

WorkTech, which is currently valued at $100 million, will use the investment to accelerate its expansion plans in Southeast Asian markets, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines. “This investment will help to bring our vision to reality, the building of an ecosystem of partners within the wealth and asset management industry. Additionally, it will allow us to bolster our service offerings to the family offices we currently serve across the region,” RFO founder and CEO Kwan Chi Man said in a statement.

As one of the biggest Hong Kong’s co-working space brand, WorkTech operates a total gross floor area (GFA) of over 400,000 square feet in Hong Kong and over 500,000 square feet globally. The firm forayed into Taiwan in August last year to offer co-working space service in Taipei to startups that are seeking low-cost and flexible services. It also has a presence in Singapore.

Lever VC, a US-Hong Kong VC leads pre-seed round in Singapore-Based Biotech Startup TurtleTree Labs

KBW Ventures, founded by HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, has taken part in a pre-seed funding round for Singapore-based startup, TurtleTree Labs.

TurtleTree Labs is the world's first cell-based milk company using technology to create real milk from animal cells, with no animal needed. The pre-seed round is led by Lever VC, a US-Hong Kong venture capital fund specializing in alternative protein investments, and includes KBW Ventures and Silicon Valley-based K2 Global.

Co-founded by CEO Fengru Lin, Chief Scientist Officer Rabail Toor, and Chief Strategist Max Rye, TurtleTree Labs has developed a unique proprietary technology that uses mammary cells to produce real, full milk in clean food production facilities. The end product allows for not just the full functionality of dairy milk, but is also expected to disrupt the existing baby formula industry.

According to Rye, the seed funding will be used to further build out the company’s scientific team and to create additional prototypes. TurtleTree Labs plans to publicly debut the world’s first cultivated milk products in the spring this year. “We believe the entire landscape of traditional bovine milk will be transformed as a result of our technology,” Lin added.

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