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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 9 February 2020


Hong Kong startups winning awards

Denim Unspun: HK Startup Denim Unspun Named To Time Magazine’s 100 Best Inventions List

Hong Kong-headquartered startup denim unspun has been named on Time magazine’s prestigious list of 100 Best Inventions of 2019. Using 3D scanning and robotics technology, the brand creates personalised jeans that not only guarantees a perfect fit for any size, but makes sure off-cut textile waste is a thing of the past. While it seems futuristic, denim unspun’s technology is deeply on trend–ticking the boxes for current consumers who are now demanding both inclusivity and sustainability from fashion labels.

Luk Advisor: Get to Know Luk Advisor and Their Award-Winning Products on AI & Data Science

Luk Advisor Limited focuses on applying artificial intelligence and data science in different areas. Not only do they provide services to corporates, but they also develop their own products, among them are AI monitoring system on animals (AniDeep) and job matching platform for university students (HiFly). Piaola, their social platform that integrates with vending machines, competed against 140 startups in the 2019 Coca Cola China Innov8 Hackfest and won the Finale Grand Winner & Innov8 Buzz Award. The gamified platform promoting green purchases, ZOOMIN has also won the Silver Award at ETNet FinTech Awards 2019! Here’s to more achievements and greater successes for Luk Advisor!

SE Asian firms pivot to Hong Kong for capital, with eye on Greater Bay Area

Singapore companies and their Southeast Asian peers have been turning to Hong Kong for capital to fund their growth ambition in recent years, with an eye on gaining a foothold in the Greater Bay Area. 

Eighteen companies from the region raised US$270.2 million (HK$2.1 billion) last year on their way to Hong Kong stock exchange listings, compared with 16 that raised US$238.9 million in 2018, according to data compiled by Refinitiv. Singapore also contributed the fifth largest number of global startup companies with headquarters in Hong Kong, a government study shows.

The trend has helped underpin Hong Kong’s role as the top fundraising market despite anti-government protests that gripped the city over the past eight months. The prize may be too big to ignore: a cluster of 11 vibrant cities in an area that makes up one-eighth of China’s economy, or twice as large as San Francisco Bay’s.

Visa and Airwallex partner on making B2B cross-border payments seamless, convenient and secure

Visa, the world’s leading digital payment technology company and Airwallex, global fintech leader, today announced a global partnership to launch the Airwallex Borderless Card, a B2B card-based payment solution to help businesses pay and be paid securely and conveniently. The new offering will be available initially in Australia, with other markets around the world, including the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, to follow later this year.

Through the partnership with Visa, businesses on Airwallex will be able to instantly generate a multi-currency virtual Visa payment account to pay their suppliers within seconds. Businesses can take advantage of Airwallex’s market-leading international foreign exchange rates as the virtual payment accounts are linked directly to its foreign currency accounts, with transactions being funded as and when they happen. Further, businesses are able to set transaction limits, including currency and merchant types, which gives control and visibility over the payment while improving security and reducing the chances of a fraudulent transaction.

The partnership generates greater efficiencies, transparency and cost savings for businesses that often need to make payments to multiple parties across geographies, such as online marketplaces, online travel agents and businesses that work with gig economy workers.

Skymind Global Ventures launches $800M fund and London office to back AI startups 

Skymind Global Ventures (SGV) appeared last year in Asia/UK as a vehicle for the previous founders of a YC-backed open-source AI platform to invest in companies that used the platform.

Today it announces the launch of an $800 million fund to back promising new AI companies and academic research. It will consequently be opening a London office as an extension to its original Hong Kong base.

SGV founder and CEO Shawn Tan said in a statement: “Having our operations in the UK capital is a strategic move for us. London has all the key factors to help us grow our business, such as access to diverse talent and investment, favorable regulation, and a strong and well-established technology hub. The city is also the AI growth capital of Europe with the added competitive advantage of boasting a global friendly time zone that overlaps with business hours in Asia, Europe and the rest of the world.”

SGV will use its London base to back research and development and generate business opportunities across Europe and Asia. The company helps companies and organizations to launch their AI applications by providing them supported access to “Eclipse Deeplearning4j”, an open-source AI tool.

Hong Kong Startup Bitspark Shuts Down

Crypto exchange service provider Bitspark is shutting down next month despite reporting exponential growth following the launch of its cash point product. The CEO of the company explained that its internal restructuring has not worked out but insisted that the ongoing protests in Hong Kong and coronavirus outbreak have not affected his platform much.

Hong Kong-based crypto exchange and remittance service provider Bitspark announced on Tuesday that it is shutting down on March 4. CEO George Harrap explained:

“This decision was not taken lightly, particularly due to the excellent performance we have seen since the release of our Cash Point product late last year which has seen 400% MoM growth.”

There will be limited services between now and the end of March 4. The CEO added that customers can contact the company directly and request a withdrawal “if their Bitspark account or DEX wallet (with sparkdex assets) still has a balance.” He clarified, “Liquidity will remain on the Bitspark markets until 4 March and the final ZEPH buyback will be an order on the order books as of today.” After March 4, account logins will be disabled for a period of 90 days.

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