The Greater Bay Area (“GBA”) and Asia Pacific (“APAC”) are two of the most popular terms the business world has been buzzing about in the past few years. Many overseas corporations choose Hong Kong as their springboard and gateway for starting businesses in Mainland China and APAC. So why is Hong Kong a great start-up centre for GBA and APAC and how do CW CPA and Hewlett Rand assist companies to expand into these markets?

Hong Kong’s super connector business environment

Known as the international financial APAC hub, Hong Kong offers a stable and efficient business environment, equipped with modern and sophisticated infrastructure, telecommunications, and a well-established legal and administrative foundation. 

With an open economy, start-ups can trade freely with minimal government intervention. Hong Kong start-ups also enjoy low tax rates and a mature banking system, offering a full range of financial services. As of March 2021, Hong Kong is now home to over 160 licensed banks, and around 40 overseas banks have established local representative offices in Hong Kong.  This makes Hong Kong hugely attractive to multinational firms that expanding into the GBA and APAC region. 

Hong Kong’s Start-up Environment 

Hong Kong is a gateway for start-ups to tap into the APAC market with a wealth of support from respected professional services partner, like CW and Hewlett Rand, coupled with excellent government support for market entry, capital and funding support, and a diverse pool of highly skilled talents, with an innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

1 Government support

CW and Hewlett Rand work alongside InvestHK, a governmental organisation, that promotes inbound foreign direct investment and supports entrepreneurs who wish to enter the Hong Kong market.  In 2013, InvestHK launched the StartmeupHK division to brand the city as the top destination for entrepreneurship and innovation.  For instance, Create Hong Kong is introduced in 2009 to promote and encourage the development of the city’s creative sector and international trade development. 

2 Financial Connectivity

Entrepreneurs can obtain access to various public and private funding and venture capital when deciding to establish start-ups. StartmeupHK offers a multitude of start-up recourses such as collaboration, investment, and mentorship programmes provided by angel investors, venture capitalists and corporate venture capital (CVC).  Further on, the Hong Kong government also initiated the Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales (BUD Fund) in 2012, which the funding is now expanded to start-ups and match start-up or SME funding on a 50/50 matching basis for both the Mainland China Programme and the new ASEAN Programme. CW and Hewlett Rand support start-up soft landing support with joined up accounting and consultancy services to make your market entry successful.   

3 Highly Skilled Talents

With a leading education system, Hong Kong has nurtured a diverse pool of highly killed talent. According to the QS World University Rankings 2020, 5 local universities in Hong Kong are ranked as the world’s top-100 universities.  Many local institutes and universities also offer a range of talent programmes to groom the younger generation in taking over the knowledge society. For instance, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has formed a strategic partnership with Huawei Technologies (Huawei) to promote high impact research and strengthen  
the University’s academic talent.  The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has also co-organised a Banking Talent Programme to nurture young banking talents.  There is an abundance of ambitious and motivated local talent that drives continued business and entrepreneurial ecosystems in all sectors, including the import and export freight market.

Why is Hong Kong a great start-up centre for GBA and APAC?

Hong Kong’s image as the international business hub has been long-established. Being rated as the world’s 5th most competitive economy in 2020 by the Institute of Management Development (IMD), the city’s open economy is recognised by firms worldwide without any people or business barriers.  Together with world-class universities, institutes of research excellence, and numerous government-sponsored start-up programmes and incubators, Hong Kong’s international position and open business climate not only distinguishes the city with various competitive advantages as the desirable business destination but also a fantastic start-up centre for corporations that wish to enter GBA and APAC regions and to attract and attain top talents. 

Encompassing nine mainland cities and the two special administrative regions, Hong Kong plays a unique role in the GBA region as the leading finance and trade centre. The city acts as a bridge between Mainland China and the global community. Creating the ‘quality living circle’ in the GBA also takes a vital role in attracting talents. Apart from providing housing and healthcare services, the area also equips with sports and recreation facilities, as well as tourism and culture.  The establishment of new transport infrastructures, such as the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, help reduce travelling times dramatically within GBA cities, creating more cooperation and partnership opportunities. 

All in all, with more government incentives and construction projects, Hong Kong offers a mature and well-founded gateway for the convergence of local and international talents and the expansion of enterprises into and out of the region. Moreover, Hong Kong’s history and infrastructure set Hong Kong-based businesses and talents apart with their more international nature contrasting to other GBA cities. The GBA offers a vast and real business opportunity for Hong Kong-based start-ups to build connections in Mainland China to realise one’s dreams and ambitions in the region.