The other night I saw a rerun of BBC’s Global Business program about Palo Alto’s famous building: 165 University Avenue. This building is the scene of the beginnings of now famous companies like Logitech, Google, and PayPal. It got me thinking about what we should be doing.
What did this tiny building have to do with these now famous companies’ success? Its owners did something simple – they offered cheap rent and basic facilities in exchange for stock in these start-ups. Granted they also had the microcosm of Silicon Valley to feed them but their gamble paid off. The Amidi’s, who own the building still, have gone on to build a much larger building for the same purpose and now have an investment fund to help companies they believe in: Plug and Play Tech Center.
Surely this kind of private sector encouragement could work in a place as wealthy as Hong Kong! What are we doing to foster start-ups? The only thing I know of is the Cyperport’s Incutrain Centre which has a somewhat shaky reputation. StartupsHK is creating events and forums for start-ups but I reckon what’s really needed is our very own 165 University Ave with a board of investors and high-tech thought leaders who can assess the businesses for investment and offer them a running start!
What have you seen that’s helping?