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Hong Kong Startup Funding: Top SME Government Funding

Looking for government funding for your startup? We cover application requirements and how much you'll get for startup funding opportunities in Hong Kong.

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Are you starting a business in Hong Kong? Or are you looking for funding for your current startup? If so, you’ll want to check out this article.

We explore some of the top SME government funding and tech startup funding options available in Hong Kong. Whether you are just starting out or you’ve been in business for a while, read on to learn more about how you can get more funding for your business.

An Overview of Startup Funding in Hong Kong

Tech startup funding in Hong Kong is available from many different sources, including government funding, venture capitalists, private equity firms, and angel investors.

We will discuss tech funding requirements and the amount to expect from public and private funding sources like the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund (CCMF), Ideation by HKSTP, the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, and more.

The Hong Kong government also provides funding for startups through a number of different programs. These programs are designed to promote entrepreneurship and support small businesses in the city.

Some of the most popular government funding programs that we will discuss include the Youth Development Fund, CreateSmart Initiative (CSI), and the Innovation and Technology Fund.

Tech Startup Funding

Cyberport Creative Micro Fund (CCMF)

Cyberport Creative Micro Fund is a program that provides funding to companies that are developing new and innovative technology products and/or services.

The CCMF’s main focus is to encourage creativity, innovation, and growth. Application for funds can be from individuals or companies.

Individual applicants must have a Hong Kong identity card. Company applicants must present a certificate of incorporation to prove their limited company is in Hong Kong.

Applicants should implement their projects within six months of being accepted to the program to qualify for HK$100,000 CCMF grant.

There are four sub-programs under the CCMF:

  • Professional program
  • Cyberport Greater Bay Area Young Entrepreneurship Programme (Cyberport GBA YEP)
  • Hong Kong Young Entrepreneur Programme (HKYEP)
  • Cyberport University Partnership Programme (CUPP)

Let’s look at the qualifications for each of these sub-programs. 

Qualifications

  • Professional program – team members should be 18 years or above
  • Cyberport GBA YEP – team members should be currently enrolled or have graduated within three years from registered tertiary institutions in Hong Kong, Guangdong, or Macau. Age requirement is from 18-30 years old
  • HKYEP – team members should be between 18-30 years old
  • CUPP – team members should be 18-30 years old and currently enrolled or have graduated within three years in local universities. 

Funding Amount

CCMF funding amount is HK$100,000 disbursed in three stages. 

  • Stage 1 – HK$10,000 after signing the CCMF agreement
  • Stage 2 – HK$45,000 after approval of the interim report
  • Stage 3 – HK$45,000 after the project is completed and approval of the final report

IDEATION by HKSTP

The Ideation program is designed to nurture and support startups that have innovative ideas with the potential to create significant social or economic impact.

The Ideation programme provides tech-focused startups with up to one year of support. Support includes mentorship and training on topics such as business modeling and Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem.

Qualifications

Here are the application requirements for Ideation.

  • An innovative idea
  • A Hong Kong identity card holder of 18 years of age and above OR
  • A limited company that is incorporated in Hong Kong that has been in existence for less than two years OR
  • Have a team (If the application is approved a limited company must be created to proceed)

Funding Amount

Ideation funding amount is HK$100,000 released in 3 stages over the course of one year. 

Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund

The Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund is a venture philanthropy fund established by the Alibaba Group. The fund supports entrepreneurs and innovators in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Popular sectors that the fund invests in include but are not limited to the internet of things, big data, fintech, e-commerce, and logistics.

Qualifications

The criteria for eligibility are as follows:

  • Majority of founders should be permanent residents of Hong Kong
  • Important company operations are based in Hong Kong
  • The business should have a viable product and customers
  • The company’s business ideas should be scalable and have high growth potential
  • The business can deliver a user experience that is convenient and efficient 

Funding Amount

Funding amounts are negotiated on a case-by-case basis. 

Government Funding

Youth Development Fund

The Youth Development Fund (YDF) is a grant provided by the Hong Kong government to support youth startups. There are two types of funding schemes, one for experimental programmes at innovation and entrepreneurial bases, and another for youth entrepreneurship.

YDF program offers youth incubation services including professional consultation and market development services. The program also provides entrepreneurial support in terms of business networking and settling entrepreneur bases in Hong Kong.

Qualifications

To qualify for YDF, applicants should:

  • Be youths aged 18-40
  • Be permanent residents of Hong Kong
  • Be startups that have been operating for 3 years or less
  • Have established businesses in Hong Kong

Funding Amount

YDF funding amount may be up to HK$600,000.

CreateSmart Initiative (CSI)

The CreateSmart Initiative (CSI) is a program that provides funding and support for start-ups in the creative industries. CSI was established in June 2009 and it’s run by Create Hong Kong.

CSI’s strategic directions include exploring markets, facilitating startups while nurturing talents, and promoting a creative community in Hong Kong. CSI funds two types of projects, design and non-design.

CSI doesn’t fund projects that can be funded by other Government funding schemes such as the Film Guarantee Fund. Projects that are funded by other Government sources don’t qualify for CSI funding.

Qualifications

CSI application requirements include:

  • Project duration should be less than one year
  • A locally registered organization such as companies and professional bodies
  • Each application should have one applicant but there should be a list of all parties involved in the project

Funding Amount

CSI has no standard funding amount. The amount is decided on a case-by-case basis and they can differ significantly. The funds are disbursed in installments.

Innovation and Technology Fund

The Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) is a government fund that aims to help companies in Hong Kong to upgrade and transform their businesses through the adoption of technology.

ITF has different programs with different objectives in varying categories as follows:

  • Research and development – Innovation and Technology Support Programme (ITSP), Mainland-Hong Kong Joint Funding Scheme (MHKJFS), Guangdong-Hong Kong Technology Cooperation Funding Scheme (TCFS), Partnership Research Programme (PRP), Enterprise Support Scheme (ESS), and Research and Development Cash Rebate Scheme (CRS)
  • Facilitating technology adoption – Public Sector Trial Scheme (PSTS), Technology Voucher Programme (TVP), Re-industrialisation Funding Scheme (RFS), and Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living (FBL)
  • Nurturing technology talent – Research Talent Hub (RTH), Reindustrialisation and Technology Training Programme (RTTP), and STEM Internship Scheme
  • Supporting technology start-ups – Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities (TSSSU) and The Innovation and Technology Venture Fund (ITVF)
  • Fostering an I&T Culture – General Support Programme (GSP) and Patent Application Grant (PAG)

Qualifications

ITF application requirements vary depending on the program. But in general, applicants should:

Funding Amount

Each ITF program has different funding amounts. 

Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living

The Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living (ITFBL) is a government grant that helps companies to develop and apply technology to improve people’s quality of life. 

ITFBL funds projects that are in line with government policies and are developed in Hong Kong to help a specific group or the public. Projects can have themes such as education, safety, health, and transport.

Projects can be delivered in various forms such as mobile apps, software, or tool. ITFBL also requires projects that are not making a profit.

Qualifications

Eligible applicants for ITFBL include

  • Professional bodies
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Trade associations
  • Tax-exempt social service organizations
  • Public bodies except government departments

These organizations should be registered in Hong Kong.

Funding Amount

ITFBL approved projects can be funded for up to 90% of the total costs. The maximum funding amount is HK$5 million.

Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund (SIE Fund)

The Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund (SIE Fund) is a government grant that funds social innovation projects. The fund supports projects in three areas: capacity building, research, and innovative programs.

The SIE fund main aim is to bring dignity, hope, and self-worth to people in need by promoting social cohesion and inclusion. 

Qualifications

The SIE fund is open to all types of applicants including

  • Individuals
  • NGOs
  • Profit-making organizations

The fund also requires that the project is based in Hong Kong and it will benefit the community.

Funding Amount

There is no maximum or minimum funding amount for the SIE Fund. The amount varies depending on the project.

Conclusion

If you have a startup in Hong Kong, there’s a lot of funding from the government and other private organizations you can get. The amount of funding you can get varies depending on the organization and the type of project.

The requirements for each program also differ. But in general, most programs require that you are a registered company in Hong Kong and that you’re a resident of Hong Kong.