Saying that 2020 has been a challenging year would be an understatement. This year, businesses were faced with some of the most unprecedented obstacles amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that put many sectors on a standstill. Many startups across Asia and beyond underwent shutdowns and layoffs in their struggle to stay afloat.
As we are navigating towards the “next normal” after the pandemic, businesses and entrepreneurs need to explore ways to survive, sustain, and scale-up for a stronger economy. This is where digitalisation and innovation figures in helping build a resilient and successful future, as suggested by a TENCENT study.
Recently, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) launched their annual flagship event Elevator Pitch Competition (EPiC 2020), inviting applications from innovative entrepreneurs worldwide. Given the international travel restrictions and lockdowns, HKSTP will stage the event virtually for the first time, reaching out to more global startups, investors and corporate partners to unlock the opportunities behind.
“EPiC is one of the most important events pushing forward the development of innovation and technology (I&T) in Hong Kong that we should continue to drive. A virtual event that brings together startups and investors from across the region is opportune. The event would not only give startups a chance to brush up their presentation skills but it will also allow them to verify their ideas by talking to the investors. Being agile to disrupt and pivot is of the essence for startups to tide over these difficult times,” said Albert Wong, CEO of HKSTP.
The pitching competition, which offers a total of US$200,000 in cash prizes, is scheduled to take place on 6th November, followed by the Global Matching programme from 9th to 12th November and the “Investment x Corporate Innovation Conference” on 13th November.
A legacy of success
Marking its fifth anniversary, EPiC has been supporting and motivating innovators to shape their unique entrepreneurship journey for the past years. Last year alone, the competition attracted a record number of over 650 entries from 48 countries and cities. Singapore-based startup Osome, an online platform that provides outsourced company incorporation, company secretary, accounting and immigration services, was last year’s Fintech award winner. This recognition coincided with their launch in Hong Kong.
“With EPiC, we received an opportunity to pitch our idea to the local tech and venture capital community alongside other promising startups. The cash prize we received has been a nice reward but the most significant benefit is the opportunity to network and build up our brand at an early stage of our presence in the city. Multiple partners we have started working with mentioned that they remembered us from the event. I would definitely recommend participating in EPiC to any startups that are about to expand to Hong Kong,” Vladislav Sharuda, co-founder of Osome, shared.
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EPiC 2020 will help startups gain access to go-to-market support, exposure to funding opportunities and a chance to build a network with global stakeholders and industry leaders. The participating startups will pitch their innovative business ideas virtually via a 1-minute video to a judging panel who will select the top 10 finalists to be announced during the final pitching competition. The top 10 will battle to be named EPiC champion of 2020 with a 5-minute presentation plus an interactive Q&A session.
“The startups have to be very precise in articulating their value. I would recommend that they start by quickly stating the problem statement and telling the investors how they’re going to solve that problem,” said Gordon Yen, one of the judges of EPiC 2020 and the founding management partner of Radiant Tech Ventures.
Helping startups scale globally through collaborative innovation and partnerships
The new normal is spurring I&T within organisations and their future success will increasingly hinge on companies being open to novel ideas and a collaborative business approach. At the core of HKSTP is the goal of fostering I&T and helping innovators scale their businesses across the region and beyond. In line with this vision, they are creating a collaborative ecosystem with different stakeholders.
The Global Matching programme seeks to connect entrepreneurs with key industry stakeholders, including investors and corporate leaders, enabling them to explore business and investment opportunities and quickly get their innovative solutions to the markets in the Greater Bay Area and Asia.
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“All investors obviously look for winners—companies that can actually identify a problem in a potential market, and provide an efficient solution to address that problem. Obviously, investors generally measure that in terms of ROI but at EPiC, we start with a focus on identifying whether a startup is providing real value for the target customers or not. When we see real value in a large enough market, then we go on to analyzing the pricing and returns,” said Yen.
EPiC 2020 will conclude with the “Investment x Corporate Innovation Conference”, which will bring together I&T leaders and global pioneers with a focus on conversations about regional investment opportunities and ways to drive corporate innovation and growth.
Hong Kong to continue its efforts in driving I&T development
In Asia, Hong Kong has been a major investment hub and reports suggest that the city will continue to remain a financial centre attracting capital from across the region and the world. The Hong Kong government recognises this potential and has been pushing for growth through digitalisation and innovation for recent years.
“The world is disrupted by technology and we have to ride on this momentum. I&T is important for the future of Hong Kong to create economic diversity and more job opportunities. The challenge for us is to help turn the scientists into innovators, and into entrepreneurs,” said Wong.
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With the objective of bringing the world forward amidst the pandemic by leveraging the technology-based disruptions and innovations, the time is ripe for innovative entrepreneurs to give their businesses a head start as they prepare to embark on the road to the future of the “next normal”. The business climate is expected to be even more cutthroat, and EPiC 2020 will serve as a platform for startups to look for new business opportunities.
Applications are open till 19th October 2020 23:59 hrs Hong Kong time. Interested startups and entrepreneurs can visit the official site for more details.
This article is produced by the e27 team, sponsored by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation
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