Asian Financial Forum to showcase 20 startups

Source: InnoVenture Salon

The InnoVenture Salon will debut at next week's Asian Financial Forum (AFF), to foster start-up development.

The Salon will leverage the AFF to connect start-ups with more than 2,500 business leaders and investors, offering an ideal stage for start-ups to present innovative business concepts and take part in mentorship sessions and connect with potential investors and partners. This year's AFF takes place next Monday and Tuesday (15-16 Jan), organised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC).

The InnoVenture Salon is supported by several start-up incubators and venture capital funds, including the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, Nest Ventures, Hong Kong Startup Council, Hong Kong X-Tech Startup, SuperCharger, Cyberport Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks. Close to 20 local and overseas start-ups, which have been shortlisted from the nominations submitted by these organisations, will set up booths at the Start-up Zone under the InnoVenture Salon, on the second day of AFF.

AFF gathers accomplished investors from around the world, including those in venture capital and private equity, as well as high-net-worth individuals. To help start-ups reach potential investors, AFF will arrange one-on-one Investor Meetups for companies to introduce their projects in greater depth and answer questions from potential investors. Start-ups can also pitch their projects to a larger group of investors at the AFF Deal Flow Project Presentation session.

In addition, seasoned experts in the start-up field will feature at Mentor Hours, offering practical advice on setting up and operations, fundraising, marketing strategies for the Chinese and wider Asian markets, and pitching.

A diverse range of start-ups - from Fintech, HealthTech to Modern Agriculture

All of the participating start-ups have developed unique businesses that combine technology and new business models. Kami, a start-up nominated by the Hong Kong X-Tech Startup, specialises in artificial intelligence applications for the financial and banking sector. The company's chatbot technology remembers and understands the context of past customer conversations and extracts relevant information to formulate the most appropriate response for ongoing conversations. The company aims to leverage automated reasoning to enable the chatbot to understand the nuances of different conversations. The company has raised US$1.7 million in funding from SoftBank Corp's ARM Innovation Ecosystem Accelerator, the Tin Fu Fund, and the Hong Kong X Technology Fund.

For Kuaiwear, a start-up nominated by the Hong Kong Startup Council, its KuaiFit smart sport headphones offers real-time voice coaching based on data collected from a clinically validated heart-rate monitor and a speed tracker. Coaching content is provided by renowned coaches, including Olympic athletes. Apart from running, the KuaiFit Marketplace mobile app offers training plans for different sports, such as athletics, swimming and cycling. In addition, coaches can upload their own training plan for users to purchase. The product has already won awards at multiple start-up competitions, including the TiE Hong Kong Startup Competition, AIA Accelerator, and the Hong Kong Startup Council's STARS Pitch.

Nominated by the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, Farm66 is a local indoor agricultural factory that specialises in high-quality eco-organic agricultural products, using aquaponics and patented greenhouse technologies, such as energy-efficient LED wavelength farming and cloud-based farming parameters monitoring. Using a specific light spectrum, the company says it can enhance the efficiency of photosynthesis, raising the quality and yield of crops. Growing vegetables in a closed environment also greatly reduces insect and bacterial infection, obviating the use of pesticides and minimising carbon footprint. The company has already garnered attention from Dubai-based Eternal Global, which is considering introducing the agricultural factory to grow crops in Dubai's desert environments. It is also considering using Hong Kong as a financing platform for the project. Farm66 recently won the Jumpstarter 2017 competition and received US$1 million in funding from the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund.

Project matching to foster cooperation

For the 10th consecutive year, the HKTDC will co-organise the AFF Deal Flow Matchmaking Session with the Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, to provide pre-arranged one-on-one deal-sourcing and matchmaking meetings for investors and project owners. More than 350 projects have already been submitted, in the areas of Fintech, manufacturing and clean technology, education, infrastructure, energy and agriculture.

AFF will also organise several Industry Presentations focusing on start-ups, clean technology, healthcare technology and Fintech, featuring industry experts discussing the latest industry trends, as well as investment project presentations. The Financial and Professional Advisory Services Zone features representatives of financial institutions, accounting firms, legal firms and business consultation companies, providing free on-site consultation services.

The Global Investment Zone returns to AFF, with representatives of governments and investment promotion agencies from 11 countries, including Australia, Germany, as well as first-time participants Mexico and Bangladesh, who will introduce their local markets, investment opportunities and regulations.

The Start-up Zone, Mentor Hours and Industry Presentation sessions are open to the press. Members of the media interested in interviewing participating start-ups or speakers of the Mentor Hours can contact Billy Ng (

Start-ups Zone Exhibitors

Company: Major Business

- Farm66: Indoor agricultural factory practices aquaponic system
Nominated by Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund

- En-trak: Smart energy-saving system
Nominated by Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund

- Mad Gaze: Smart glasses
Nominated by Startup Council

- Contact Store: Multi-disciplinary design consultancy specialising in innovative products
Nominated by Startup Council

- Kuaiwear: Smart sports coaching headset
Nominated by Startup Council

- Kami: A chatbot with the capability to remember and understand past conversations
Nominated by the Hong Kong X-Tech Startup

- AA pay: A payment system for brick and mortar stores
Nominated by the Hong Kong X-Tech Startup

- Netki: An identity-verifying system for blockchain and tokens etc
Nominated by Nest Venture

- Altitude labs: Digital transformation, web and mobile application development agency
Nominated by Nest Venture

- FinChat: Enabling compliance monitoring, archival and analytics for popular messaging apps in regulated enterprises
Nominated by Supercharger

- Gatecoin: A Bitcoin and Ethereum token exchange platform based in Hong Kong
Nominated by Supercharger

- Velotrade: A receivables invoice financing platform for immediate SME funding
Nominated by Cyberport

- Wesurance Limited: Insurance mobile app
Nominated by Cyberport

- Spire: Software-based crypto wallets for blockchain

- LA Blockchain accelerator: A venture fund focus on start-ups that use blockchain as underlying technology

- Zero-One Capital: An investment fund focus on blockchain-digital currency space

- ConnectAR Limited: Mobile app developer centred on AR

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