Start-up Express International 2023: The Top 10 Winners and What Lies Ahead

These startups reaped the benefits of an expanded network and business opportunities. Could yours be next?

There is no singular element that makes a startup successful. Any startup is a product of its founders’ vision and commitment, the right networks, marketing, funding and support. Conventions, exhibitions, accelerators and even shows like Shark Tank then play an important role in giving startups a much-needed leg up. After all, it is a competitive space.

About 50 million startups are launched every year. Sadly, they see a high fail rate, with 20% failing in the first year and about half shutting shop five years in. Sometimes, these startups run out of money, other times, they run out of marketing ideas and strategies. There are multifold reasons why startups fail. That’s where programs like Start-up Express come into the picture.

Overview of Start-up Express International

Start-up Express, launched by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), is a meticulously-curated programme. Since 2018, it has aimed to nurture Hong Kong start-ups with innovative technological products or solutions and a strong aspiration to venture into international markets. This initiative is geared towards helping local start-ups develop their capabilities, expand their networks, explore new markets, seek business and funding partnerships and bolster their brand presence. Offering a myriad of unique opportunities for learning, growth and networking, Start-up Express selects ten winners from each cohort. The winners will benefit from extensive marketing initiatives and garner attention from investors, media outlets and potential collaborators.

In 2022, the programme launched its international counterpart, Start-up Express International, during Entrepreneur Day, HKTDC’s anchor start-up event. This international series is specifically designed to engage start-ups from diverse global ecosystems, facilitating the establishment and nurturing of business connections with potential partners in Hong Kong and expanding their business via the Hong Kong platform.

Entering its second year, Start-up Express International is focusing on start-ups specializing in innovative technologies across various domains, including FinTech, Health Tech, Web3.0 & Metaverse, Smart City and Green Tech.

To enter the programme, startups must have been nominated by the programme’s Global Partner, established for five years or less, with a funding stage of Series A or earlier, and demonstrate a focus on the abovementioned domains.

Champions of the Start-up Express International 2023

Let’s take a closer look at the ten winners of the latest edition of Start-up Express International and their groundbreaking contributions:

Ambiator 🇮🇳 

While turning on the air-con on a hot day might feel like a treat for your body, it is not one for the environment. Aircons consume a lot of energy while releasing a plethora of harmful gasses into the environment. That’s where Ambiator comes in. Established in 2022, Ambiator is a climate technology firm focused on manufacturing affordable cooling solutions. Leveraging its core technology, Dew Point Regenerative Technology, the startup’s solution is tailored for the Global South.

Flectothink 🇨🇳

Founded in 2020, Flectothink specializes in brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, with applications in consumer electronics and medical fields, particularly in sleep monitoring and human-machine interaction. BCI technology enables individuals to control external devices using brain signals. It has the potential to aid people with disabilities and enhance human-computer interactions.

Hangles 🇹🇭

Every year, billions of garments are left unsold and many find their way to the landfills. This is a concerning statistic that has haunted us for years, prompting startups to take charge. Launched in 2021, Hangles is a recommerce, or reverse commerce, enabler committed to driving sustainability in fashion. Its e-commerce platform, equipped with an AI search engine and seamless logistics, supports the reuse, reduction and recycling of fashion items.

Moreloop 🇹🇭

Established in 2018, Moreloop combines environmental sustainability with digital technology. It had created a platform that connects surplus fabrics from garment factories with SMEs, promoting upcycling and circular economy practices. 

Upcycling is important for several reasons. It reduces consumption and minimizes the strain on resources such as fuel, forests and water supplies and thereby leaves a smaller environmental footprint.

The Northern Latitude-37 🇨🇳

Founded in 2022, the NL37 focuses on the research and development (R&D) of intelligent chassis technologies, aiming to reduce R&D costs and production timing for automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) through its innovative chassis platforms. 

Intelligent chassis technologies refer to advanced systems that enhance the performance, safety and comfort of vehicles. The global intelligent chassis market is experiencing significant growth, with a focus on meeting the requirements of high-level autonomous driving. These technologies play a crucial role in enabling vehicles to adapt to different driving conditions, improve stability and support the vision of accident-free driving.

Sino Microimaging (Taizhou) Medical Technology 🇨🇳

Sino specializes in portable MRI solutions, founded by a team from the Institute of Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Portable MRI devices have been shown to provide life-saving information for conditions such as traumatic brain injuries, strokes and intracranial hemorrhages, particularly in resource-limited settings where access to traditional MRI technologies is limited.

TEGmat 🇩🇰

Established in 2022, TEGmat is a thermal electricity generation company revolutionizing thermoelectric generator (TEG) modules by producing novel, flexible solutions that are economically viable and free from rare-earth materials. This can significantly contribute to the efficient and sustainable generation of electricity from waste heat, with potential applications in various industries including power plants, factories, space missions and IoT devices

Ucloudy 🇨🇳

Founded in 2018, Ucloudy is a technology-based enterprise specializing in AI industrial machine vision equipment, offering integrated services for intelligent manufacturing, including 5G private network construction and data platforms. Essentially, it develops smart machines for factories and helps them set up super-fast private internet and data systems.

Cloud computing and AI-driven machine vision equipment can significantly improve efficiency, productivity and cost-effectiveness in manufacturing processes. Additionally, the provision of 5G private network construction and data platforms can contribute to the seamless integration of advanced technologies, ultimately fostering innovation and competitiveness within the industrial sector

Uvera 🇸🇦

The UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021 estimates that 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with unconsumed food, emphasizing the need to reduce food waste at retail, food service and household levels

Launched in 2019, Uvera focuses on reducing food waste with its Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) solution, combining UV-C light and vacuum sealing. It extends the shelf-life of fresh produce, meat and baked goods by 97% on average within 30 seconds without the use of chemicals.

Voltaic 🇩🇪

Founded in 2023, Voltaic offers solar and heat pump solutions with a comprehensive warranty and a Smart IoT platform for real-time data analytics, promoting energy independence. Energy independence refers to a country’s ability to rely solely on domestically produced energy

The pursuit of energy independence is influenced by various factors, including geopolitical considerations, environmental concerns and economic interests. As the world continues to grapple with the challenges of climate change and sustainable development, the quest for energy independence is likely to remain a key priority for many nations. That’s where companies like Voltaic are positioned to succeed. 

Charting the future of entrepreneurship

As Start-up Express International prepares for its third edition, entrepreneurs worldwide are invited to participate in Entrepreneur Day 2024 (December 5-6), where opportunities for networking, learning and growth abound. Applications will open in Q3, offering aspiring start-ups the chance to showcase their innovations on the global stage and connect with potential partners and investors. Stay tuned to the Start-up Express International website for the latest news.

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All images by HKTDC

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