But now the exotic Asian island wants to reinvent itself into a startup hub with the Startmeup.HK initiative.
And it seems to be working.
During Austin Startup Week, a lot of the focus spotlighted the local bustling startup culture.
But one international visitor managed to host a lunch at Capital Factory and attract quite a crowd.
Simon Galpin, the director general of investment promotion at Invest Hong Kong, also known as InvestHK, gave an overview of all the startup activity happening in Hong Kong. InvestHK is the government’s effort to attract foreign investment into Hong Kong.
“In the last two or three years, we’ve noticed the whole startup ecosystem has started to develop rapidly,” Galpin said.
Hong Kong now has 14 co-working sites focused on a variety of different industries, he said. The startup crowd likes to be in the center of the action and not in a high-rise building on the hillside, he said. Hong Kong also has some government run tech incubators and about 14 privately run incubators, Galpin said.
Hong Kong also has an active angel investment community, Galpin said. Some Hong Kong investors have also shifted investment from real estate into technology and startup businesses, he said. And Hong Kong officials are working on attracting more venture capital firms to the region, he said.
“Hong Kong is a springboard for companies to go global,” Galpin said.
The Austin visit was part of Galpin’s U.S. tour, which also included visits to New York City and Philadelphia, to promote the new “Startmeup.HK” initiative.
InvestHK launched “Startmeup.HK” to support startups globally to provide them with access to money as well as intellectual and social connections. The goal is also to develop Hong Kong as an entrepreneurship and innovation hub, Galpin said.
His visit to Austin is hopefully the first of many, Galpin said. He plans to come back and bring entrepreneurs with him, he said. And he would like to see some startups from Austin visit Hong Kong.