Incubator gives HK, Macao businesses a leg-up
GUANGZHOU - After exploring registering a company in Shenzhen and Zhuhai in 2013 and 2015, Chan ChiMan, a Hong Kong entrepreneur, finally made the plunge and launched a business on the Chinese mainland in 2017 when he came across the Tianhe District Service Center for Hong Kong and Macao Youth Entrepreneurship.
The service center, a nonprofit organization which acts as an incubator for emerging enterprises, is located in the heart of Guangzhou's bustling CBD, Zhujiang New Town.
Since it was established in 2017, the center has embraced more than 2,200 young entrepreneurs from the two special administrative regions, and 45 Hong Kong and Macao enterprises have settled down at the center.
Thanks to the assistance from the center, Chan is now the founder and chief executive officer of Deming ProDevelop, an engineering consultancy with four offices scattered across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
In Chan's view, the service center played an instrumental role in his company's current success. "Without the help of the service center, there is no way we could have thrived to such an extent on the Chinese mainland," Chan said.
Establishing a business is tough in itself, but for newcomers to the mainland, the application and registration process can especially present a massive initial hurdle, according to Chan. Luckily, the service center reduced some of that pressure for him.
Chen Jingzhan, director of the center's entrepreneurship and innovation department, said many Hong Kong and Macao entrepreneurs that have set their eyes on development on the mainland often face similar headaches.
"It's not just a matter of investing enough time to complete the registration process. Without professional guidance, many Hong Kong and Macao newcomers to the mainland simply do not know where to start," said Chen, adding that is where the service center comes in.
Not only does the center help entrepreneurs get started, but it also offers support as they continue to develop through free registration, entrepreneurship, policy, intellectual property rights, law, and market resource consultancy services.
To enterprises that meet specific requirements, the center even provides office space for two to three people free of charge, with the aim of "reducing the operational costs associated with startups, and offering more development opportunities to Hong Kong and Macao enterprises," said Chen.
Since the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area was released in February, several youngsters from Hong Kong and Macao have set their sights on Guangdong.
Ye Zhengqiao, a young entrepreneur from Hong Kong, is one of them. Drawn to the Greater Bay Area after graduating from university in the US, Ye now is the founder of Geometry Technology Co Ltd, a company that has launched an online intelligent pet platform. Ye's platform lists pet-related service providers and product sellers in a one-stop online solution for pet owners in China.
Ye said the construction of the Greater Bay Area has given young people like him "more confidence and opportunity". He said he believes "the rate of success in Guangdong is higher than in Hong Kong", and that the Greater Bay Area gives young people "more room to try new things with lower capital requirements".
The concept behind the Greater Bay Area also provided the inspiration for Chan's business. While working on a project related to the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Chan saw the potential for greater cooperation and wanted to build a bridge of his own: a platform to connect Chinese mainland engineers and their Hong Kong, Macao and overseas counterparts.