Startups move to the mainland

Local | Charlotte Luo 25 Jun 2019

Young Hong Kong entrepreneurs are moving north to grow their start-ups, while local universities are supporting them with affordable offices and connections in the mainland.

Two Chinese University of Hong Kong graduates founded a startup – R-Guardian – in 2015 when they were still students.

They developed a smart monitoring system by embedding a chip in suitcases to solve the issue of passengers losing their baggage.

The company’s office is located at the university’s Shenzhen Institute, where the founders can rent offices at discounted prices that mainly cover management and facility fees.

The suitcases the company design come with Bluetooth and GPS hardware so passengers can locate their suitcases using an application on their mobile phones anywhere in the world.

The suitcase’s weight will also appear on the application when it is lifted.

Cofounders Eric Kuo Wai-keung graduated from the Department of Information Engineering, while Eric Lau Pak-lam obtained a degree in actuarial analysis.

Kuo said the company has worked with big brands, including Marks & Spencer and Swissdigital, to use R-Guardian technology.

The United States’ Federal Aviation Administration requires lithium batteries in suitcases to be removed before being checked in.

Kuo said their suitcases use a nickel–metal hydride battery as a back-up, meaning it will still work even when the lithium ones are removed.

R-Guardian’s suitcases are selling on Alibaba’s online store TMall for between 999 and 1,249 yuan (HK$1,134 and HK$1,418).

“It beats all other intelligent suitcase brands and is at the top of sales rankings,” Kuo said.

In the university’s research institute, selected start-ups can use offices for about a third of the market price.

Lin Huangquan, the associate director of the institute, said the market price is around 150 to 180 yuan per square meter. Other start-ups at the institute are interior design company ADO Ltd, voice intelligence firm VOICEAI, and Imsight Medical Technology Company, who specialize in medical intelligence.

Chan Wai-yee, director of the School of Biomedical Sciences, said the university is positioning itself in the Greater Bay Area as an institution to “nurture talent, promote education and research, and boost entrepreneurship.”

Chan said the SAR government’s desire to encourage young Hongkongers to build start-ups in the Greater Bay Area.

The university will seek help from Hong Kong, cities in the Greater Bay Area and the Chinese government for policies, finance and special projects.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and City University of Hong Kong also have their own research institutes in the same area.

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