Startup Weekends are always action-packed, as organizers try and pack as much of the startup experience as possible, in a 54-hour time frame. But in Hong Kong, they took it up several notches in 2017. They had 12 local events, played part in an AI global-winning highlight for Lillian Lai and “Serena”, and hosted a special Silver Society vertical event focused on senior citizens actively aging. 

Yes, 12 Startup Weekend Hong Kong events, with over 1,000 attendees, 300+ pitches, more than 100 mentors, and the immersion of over 20 new community leaders. Those last two key points were especially important, as mentorship drives maturity of ideas and strong leadership is both inspirational and provides role models for the entire startup ecosystem. First, their bootcamp half-day event focused on customer validation and was a part of the overall Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP)‘s Entrepreneurship Day 2017 experience.

The fact that 8 different verticals were nurtured in the Startup Weekends is a sign of outstanding things to come in the more inclusive environment in Hong Kong. Of course, the common healthtech, biotech, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and women entrepreneurship were on their list. The standouts for divergent startups were in fashion, retail, property, STEM education, and social innovation.

Social innovation was the target at the mentioned Silver Society Startup Weekend. While this special focus on adding current and future senior citizens was interrupted by a typhoon, plans are in place to continue working in this vertical in the near future.

Furthermore, Global Startup Weekend AI was a success for Lillian Lai, a serial hackathon 4-time winner in 2017, and her app “Serena”, beat over 100 other teams from 12 cities to be a top 3 global winner. Serena is a mental-health AI that tracks mental health metrics and personalizes mental support with an AI assistant.

For those looking to ride on the successful entrepreneurship coattails of 2017 into the adventures awaiting Hong Kong startups in 2018, here are some upcoming Startup Weekend events for the first quarter:
Jan 19 – 21 | Startup Weekend Travel | Get Your Tickets NOW
Feb 09 – 11 | Global Startup Weekend Women
Mar 23 – 25 | Startup Weekend FinTech

Keep in mind, the entrepreneurial startup ecosystem in Hong Kong has been gaining both speed and traction for almost two decades. With Hong Kong’s emergence as a thriving entrepreneur ecosystem, opportunities for successful new methods of mentorship have ranked high on the government’s radar ever since the first graduates from Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) in 1992. According to HKTDC Research, since then, 470 incubation participants have graduated, with an above-average survival rate of 74%, 348 companies are still in business, and an impressive 4 incubatees are listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange

HKSTP incubator’s mission has always been to nurture new science and tech in three zones: web and mobile technology (Incu-App), technology (Incu-Tech), and biotechnology (Incu-Bio). Their mission continues to expand as just last month they opened the new Robotics Catalysing Centre to raise Hong Kong’s tech profile as a regional robotics hub.

-This article was originally seen on Startup Beat. 

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