Once a year, a group of intelligent and purposeful people gathers for a one day summit at Mettā Hong Kong— a place the entrepreneurial community often refers to as the town square of the innovation village. The eSummit is part interactive workshops for those who can make tangible change, part pithy panels with experts from around the world, a winning balance of influential, curious minds and unprecedented content in a focused forum was struck.
Nicholas Yang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR: “Civil servants won’t innovate. Innovation / imagination needs to come from the private sector”
“Hong Kong can do the extraordinary, but it won’t achieve this by imitating over creating”
Dr. Allan Zeman, Chairman and Founder, LKF Group:
“When the public sees govt’ has insights, they will follow suit. Criticism makes people think and become better. Govt has to paint the vision of what HK could be in 5–10 years time. Govt has to take the lead and be proactive, which will in turn encourage the commercial entities to follow and eventually take over.”
Dr. Gino Yu, Director of Digital Entertainment and Game Development, PolyU:
“Education shouldn’t just be a form of training; it’s about understanding who you are & why you are here. In other words, it’s about having consciousness. Entrepreneurship as a spiritual path between thoughts & emergence. Reality used to be dictated by religion or monarchy, while now it’s dictated by employment. We need to create a culture of empowering employees’ self-awareness instead of just focusing on financial returns.”
Joe Lee, Co-Founder, Kuaidi
“We move >10 mil people in China per day, and have created a new means of transportation. Start from the ground up and take baby steps, instead of thinking of how to get rich at the start.”
Cherrie Atilano, Founder & President AGREA, Global Shaper
“Farmers are endangered species. Hence, we need to transform farming into a trendy lifestyle. Philippines has over 7100 islands. We started by creating an ecology on one of the islands that locates at the heart of Philippines. We have also launched an “agripreneurship” programme. We combine agriculture with business. The US Embassy is now funding our programme. We nurture farmer breeders, scientists, and educators.”
Opening by Nicholas Yang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR— Blend, Tolerate, Innovate
- Hong Kong’s strength lies in its international talents
- We need to blend, work together, in order to create a sharing economy
- We need to lead, not follow
- Hong Kong can do the extraordinary, but it won’t achieve this by imitating over creating
- Civil servants won’t innovate. Innovation / imagination needs to come from the private sector
- Expect the unexpected, find the extraordinary, execute quickly
- For the last 10 months the HK government (i.e. Innovation Bureau) has been focusing on building the city’s startup ecosystem. However, govt effort can’t be the only component to succeed. The truly extraordinary comes from the Public-Private-Partnership.
Keynote Panel #1 — Smart Cities with Allan Zeman (AZ), Rosanna Wong (RW)
Moderator Q: What can HK be in the future?
- Yau Lee Holding has built the first and “greenest” hotel in SoHo, but people don’t know it yet
- Destruct first, innovate next
- Government’s lead is the utmost important, HK can’t be a smart city without the government being smart themselves
- For HK to truly usher into the future, number one is being led by an innovative government
- The challenge right now is to gain the right mentality; old vs. young (digital savvy)
- HK’s strength lies in firstly its dense population, secondly on the close partnerships with China
- SZ’s innovation is HK’s strength, owing to the geographical proximity between the two
- In China, no one uses cash anymore, it’s all about QR codes & mobile wallet, whereas FinTech in HK is still very behind
Floor Discussion: Future of Hong Kong
Audience — Rachel
- Q: What could serve as the catalyst to accelerate changes in HK? How could we generate more demand for innovation?
- Education matters most, but it has to go from top-down to bottom-up. Hence, our govt’ needs to overhaul our education system. Companies need to re-think how their products can be enhanced by innovation. Virtual Reality is the just start of innovation, we need to spend more money on R&D, and R&D will in turn attract better talent. Technology & business are inseparable these days.
- Other than the top-down & bottom-up approach, middle-out is also important. Education is fundamental, and it shouldn’t be limited to students; businesses have to re-invest their education trainings as well.
Audience — Keith (Smart City IoT Committee)
- Opinion: In order to build a smarter HK, we will need IoT sensors everywhere. But the challenge right now is that it’s very difficult for us to partner with companies to place the IoT on the buildings.
- When the public sees govt’ has insights, they will follow suit. Criticism makes people think and become better. Govt has to paint the vision of what HK could be in 5–10 years time. Govt has to take the lead and be proactive, which will in turn encourage the commercial entities to follow and eventually take over.
Moderator Question: How do we compare HK and Singapore on the innovation landscape?
- It’s a top-down plus bottom-up approach. It has to be led by govt, with the private sector to then take over. Govt to set an example (being tech friendly and overhauling). The city needs land and spaces for startups for grow. Govt in some cases should even be a VC fund. Look at things of what they could be (and beyond).
Rachel’s question for Nicholas Yang (NY) & Rosanna Wong
- Questions: Would the govt consider organising grand challenges? Should we have a different model to drive innovation other than having Science Park & Cyberport?
- The autonomous car might not be very suitable for HK. HK has to find its own grand challenges, instead of replicating from other cities and people. It’s all about balance— applying different forces at different times.
- We do run grand challenges in HK, but it’s low-key compared to Singapore.
Moderator Question: Perspective of HK and PRD
- Huge innovations will be brought about by PRD. Within the next 5 years, it’ll only take 30 mins drive to Macau & Zhuhai, 40 mins from GZ, and 10 mins from SZ.
Audience — Matthias
- Comment: HK has to learn from China, esp. on topics such as new economy and entrepreneurship. HK lacks a grand vision, whereby people are just focusing on local (or SEA instead of China). HK needs more unicorns e.g. Jack Ma, Steven Jobs. HK needs leadership with vision.
Audience — Samuel (HKBN)
- Comment: The young are inpatient. Where does the local corporations play in driving innovation?
What would you advise us to do in order to engage the ecosystem in HK?
- Multi-disciplinary is the key. Local corps can also consider setting up VC funds.
- HK is already changing. The habits of young people are changing. We can’t just think of HK, we need to explore our vision to the globe. The internet enables us the ability to sell to the world overnight.
Audience — Helena Storm (Swedish Council):
- #1 — Sweden intends to have energy supply with zero gas emissions by 2050. Sweden has to be the pioneer to inspire other countries
- #2 — Stockholm City has the vision to become one of the smartest cities by 2040
- #3 — Smart in a targeted manner within the following facets: Economics, Finances, Democracy, Social Cohesion
Keynote Panel #2 — Developing Human Capital
Ray Cheung (RC), Gino Yu (GY), NiQ Lai (NQ)
- The city has to create uplifting momentum to attract talent. The cultural element is missing in HK, and the young suffer from parental pressure.
- Education shouldn’t just be a form of training; it’s about understanding who you are & why you are here. In other words, it’s about having consciousness. Entrepreneurship as a spiritual path between thoughts & emergence. Reality used to be dictated by religion or monarchy, while now it’s dictated by employment. We need to create a culture of empowering employees’ self-awareness instead of just focusing on financial returns.
- People are more important than money. HKBN has the heritage of having a startup culture. We have always been in at a disadvantage, hence people are our best asset. Co-ownership structure is the DNA of HKBN. HKBN is one of the few listed companies in HK not controlled by families. Our core purpose is make HK a better place to live.
- There are essential two types of people. Right Hand Path — following the designed structures & safety path, climbing the ladder–and Left Hand Path–those that look at the system and say ‘fuck you’. They are the true artists & entrepreneurs. They venture into the unknown. The difference is due to the different levels of risk aversion. Companies nowadays want to innovate, but they don’t know how to, it’s because the key decision makers are mostly people who follow the Right Hand Path. All senior management care is to let the money flow into “safe” profitability. We need engage companies in a win-win way.
How to combine a technical skill set with the entrepreneurial spirit?
- Many countries are now incorporating coding courses in young education. At HKU, the computer science department is growing massively — more people are doing a double major in CS.
Moderator Question: How do you measure human capital and its development?
Audience — Fiona Chan (Stamwork) — shares from observation from peers:
- #1 synergy when we brainstorm
- #2 unlearning
- #3 playful yet creative — we have a lot to learn from children
Q: Recovering Creativity (process of unlearning — age 5 vs. 17)
- If 90% of us are entrepreneurs, the society will collapse. Are we driving people to become what they can’t be?
- Thought is important, it drives the action and kicks the energy in the physiology system. The question is, how do we maintain the curiosity and wonder?
- How to we re-create education as not just an academic exercise? In HK, we focus on entrepreneurship, but nothing much on Angel Investing and Series A education. How do we utilise the capital?
N: We want you to either love/hate us, but not feel indifferently towards us— we want people to take risk, and address risk intolerance. We benchmark ourselves with companies worldwide, not within HKG.
Stanley (Shanghai): Alternative Pivot — How do companies account for systemic changes?
- Existing education focuses on student champion, which suppresses creativity.
- 1 — Framing of reality → Western (External Exploration) vs. Eastern (Inner Discovery).
- 2 — In order to explore, you need to feel safe.
- When HKBN look for people, there are two key rules — empowerment & disruptive changes. We look for risk-taking personality. HKBN graduate trainee program offers a co-ownership option. We are not looking for the average student.
Audience Comment: Large institutions like HKU / HKUST have tremendous inertia to maintain status quo. The science of banking is now driving from the engineering department.
- The system is in equilibrium stage. More inter-disciplinary research will surely be upcoming.
Presentation by Smart City Consortium — Eric Yeung, Daniel Chun
- SCC founded in 2016 March (non-profit)
- Smart City — use sustainable tech to create better lives of our citizen.
- HK is at SC 3.0 stage, SC is a top-down approach
- HK has always been an early adopter of technology — confident to catch up soon
- Smart City to launch crowdsourcing platform soon
Charles Ng (Invest HK)
- Verticals (& sub verticals) of Hong Kong e.g. FinTech, IoT, Health Tech, Data Analytics, Supply Chain Tech, Retail Tech
- We don’t have any unicorn yet, but we have tons of success stories and an ecosystem
Keynote Panel #3 Smart Economy — Urban Systems
Mats Hederous (MH), Joe Lee (JL), Ken Montler (KM)
Moderator Question: What created the largest impact and the cities / industries you have been operating in?
- You need to have a platform to start with. You don’t only need to have a dream, you need to have a big dream. You need to listen a lot. A lot of decisions are made by emotions.
- The best business is where we find out there’s problem / pain. What makes a company fail? Timing. Got the wrong time. The answer is not more cars/roads, but better systems (e.g. Philippines). Build SC from bottom-up.
- We move >10 mil people in China per day, and have created a new means of transportation. Start from the ground up and take baby steps, instead of thinking of how to get rich at the start.
- AMF a pension company. 11th largest in Europe. As a company with tons of money, you are supposed to be conservative.
Patrick (from AMF)
- AMF is building an ecosystem for startups / scaleups, large corps are looking to digitise. >350 co. are now sitting & innovating in our site.
Moderator Question: If Autonomous Vehicle replace all your taxi drivers, what will they be doing?
- This is an inevitable part of the industrial revolution. The question is what we can do to prepare for it? If the car is on autopilot, for example, who is going to pay the insurance? I’m now spending most of my time on FinTech — InsurTech. I focus on new opportunities.
- Urbanisation happening rapidly in the world. We need to build an inclusive and sustainable vehicle. In an established business, you find the professional. But in an emerging business, you need to get the amateurs’ opinions.
Moderator Question: What would you like to see in HK in terms of transforming city transport?
- There’s no electric bus in HK, nor one single cab that takes credit cards.
- The electronic payment system in HK is way behind anywhere in the world. It’s the govt’s call to innovate though.
- We are living in cities that were designed decades ago. Cities are afraid to make big decisions. Open-data source allows us to continue to innovate in a rapid way.
Audience — Kinzie
- Comments: People in HK didn’t care about pollution way back. We have severe infrastructure problems — landfills, wastes. There’s no excuses around why recycling plastic bags is not widely practised in HK. The system favours the industry. What it takes to get innovators to see value in the plastic deposits system? We need a balance of power between commerce and public. A fundamental shift is necessary — partly on communication, partly on awareness. One good thing about HK is that things can be executed quickly.
- The goal of Smart City is to break silos down between businesses. We look at the world problems and try to match business with it by lowering the costs.
- We have different kinds of problems, but we need to solve it bit by bit. Start with small step, build it along.
Moderator Question: Are you looking at expansion / adoption?
- I have a strong ruler to judge what my focus will be in terms of innovation / direction of company. The key lies on the creation of social values. In order to create social values in that particular area, you need to understand that area deeply. Focus on the area that you are good at and familiar with.
Audience — Austin Byran (CLP)
- Comments: The combination of technology and renewable energy is the most viable in this era. I refer specifically to the convergence of operation, technology, and renewable energy. Our priorities now are: 1) smart energy and architecture 2) connectable big data 3) how we do that in a systematised way
Audience — Samuel (HKBN)
- Comments: In HKBN, we keep pricing at the median range of HK, because internet access is important to everyone (rich and poor).
- Create social value will ultimately result in the creation of company & business values.
- Authorities used to be the enemies of corporates. However, we start by “let’s make Stockholm city our best home” and gradually we gained authorities’ support.
Keynote Panel #4 Smart Environment
Cherrie Atilano (CA), Rory Hunter (RH), Stanley (S)
- Problems in Philippines —how to feed the 9b population? Food matter in Asia. We need to produce more with less.
- JustFresh — Shanghai-based agritech. Food is the most basic of all. Engagment is the most relevant word for us. Our operational model focuses on the reduction of waste in order to create values.
Moderator Question: How do you change the perception of farming in Philippines?
- Farmers are endangered species. Hence, we need to transform farming into a trendy lifestyle. Philippines has over 7100 islands. We started by creating an ecology on one of the islands that locates at the heart of Philippines. We have also launched an “agripreneurship” programme. We combine agriculture with business. The US Embassy is now funding our programme. We nurture farmer breeders, scientists, and educators.
Moderator Question: How do you manage relationship with Government?
- The government is always part of the discussion.
- Government involved on the regulatory level. Agriculture is a heavily managed industry all along. The role the Chinese government plays is more receptive.
Announcement by Keshia Hannam of Mettā
- The government is in the midst of a 10-year waste program. As of next year, they will utilise EU technology to transform food waste into energy, work with Christine Loh, Undersecretary for Environment, HKSAR. This is a government initiative that fix 60% of the problem, but needs the community to buy in to the rest.
- We only serve the local community. With soiltech, the once contaminated soil can be nutritious again. Food production can now grow 12 months a year with unconventional spaces. We need to bring farmers into experience technology.
Audience — Kinzie
- Comments: Farmers are the real rockstars. The millennials are really interested. There is a wave of industrialisation of food processing. It’s a grassroots movement.
- Changing human habits is the most difficult part. The problem of farmers is the lack of access to markets.
Question for Investors: Do these macro stories resonate with you or is it that IoT and/or social media are what interest you the most? Do you see opportunities for these to be scaled up?
- My VC supports green ideas. Green: growing organic food, organic farming, green construction, food recycling. We partner with the government.
Liz (Legislative Counsel)
- Personal Sharing — Ma On Shan Farming Area has a huge demand. It serves as an education for kids.
Audience — Durrie
- Our VC invests in disruptive tech, with a focus on the social enterprise sector (esp. low tech/no tech). It’s very attractive to us. In order to make global changes, you have to start from the bottom.
- For the first six months, we worked on gathering data. Whatever food that is being imported, we need to make business out of it. The local economy is losing opportunities to rice grown in Vietnam. How do we teach the illiterate technology? Hand holding is the most important, as it’s not an overnight change. In Philippines, there are up to seven layers of middlemen in local organic food selling. We need to cut middleman and give it back to the bottom. With the emergence of the vegetarian movement, food choices are becoming more complicated.
- We teach young people with the following programs:
1) Agricultural Foundation that teaches the young that they are socially relevant and poised to create change
2) School Garden Projects that promote kids planting.
- Pasona is a Japanese Office Agency that incorporates office planting. It’s a great example for HK to follow.
In partnership with Economist Intelligence Unit, Mettā presented the Metta eSummit: Oceans Challenge as a special invite-only component of the eSummit in conjunction with the Formula E. The primary intent was to discuss problems and create solutions for the ever-growing global challenge of ocean cleanup.
Employing a unique, interactive format, we brought together business leaders, government officials, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, and innovators to think through the issues at hand and to create win-win solutions for the many constituents who are stakeholders in addressing this challenge.
Option 1 — Representative of IMO
- Solution: Exercise tax on ships that carry plastics
Option 2 — CEO of Dow Chemical
- To create a social enterprise and a massive PPP that can scale up the technology that can extract plastics in huge scale, and to create a new form of water dissolvable plastics. Business operates as a Social Enterprise to put proceeds back to education, research, innovation. Rather than cleaning up plastics at the beaches, we take it out from city first — target at the sources & root causes
Option 3 — CEO of CocaCola
- Tons of boats to collect plastic wastes on ocean (tons of branding on the plastic collector ships). Once we have collected the wastes, we will implement tax on the CocaCola plastic bottles and invest with the proceeds.
Option 4 — American Seafoods Company
- With fishing catch nets, we naturally catch tons of plastics. We will innovate fish catching nets with serration methodology. We need to make it economic and turn plastic into fill, use the heat from the engine to degrade plastic that have a low boiling point. Collect fish as scientific sample.
Option 5 — Environment Administer for a China Sea Nation
- First identify what the challenges are, then organise a dim sum table to gather all the govt officials. Invite Allan Zeman to have a chat with HK’s CE. To have everyone understand what the challenges are but do not burden them with personal responsibilities. To get all of the minsters involved.
Option 6 — CEO of AP Moller
- Since 3D printing and digitisation are taking over, we will use unused boats to collect plastic. We will team up with Nike / Adidas who can use plastic to product clothing. Install lighting and sensors, map the plastic locations and sell the data to who might also be interested. Install 3D printing to convert the plastic into printing materials. Tax subsidies to ports.
Option 7 — CEO of Ak Inovex
- As a plastic recycling startup, we will achieve collection of waste stocks on scale. Leverage the ability to monetise to covert plastic, to inspire large co. like Merck. Economics of Scale
Option 8 — Board of Directors of a Sea Marine Defence NGO
- First — use the radar to map the plastic bags.
Second — ocean community service.
Third — decommission.
Forth — using tech to understand where the plastic bags are most heavily condensed, approach the corporate in those areas.
There was an overwhelming sense of concern and urgency at the third annual Our Oceans conference hosted by John Kerry…www.eiuperspectives.economist.com
Social Innovation Index for Nippon Foundation
As a relatively novel concept, it lacks an established definition. Most broadly, it can refer to new services and…www.eiuperspectives.economist.com
Securing the Digital City for NEC (an extension of the Safe Cities program)