I had the chance to spend a few days in Hong Kong in the spring of 2015 at the invitation of the Hong Kong trade development agency Invest Hong Kong. My first visit after many years and naturally I was looking forward to understand what initiatives the Hong Kong government was undertaking and how high the entrepreneurial spirit was. The spirit is high! Driven by the realization that starting your own business may in fact be less risky than a corporate job: The banking crisis of 2008 and international headquarters moving to Shanghai and Beijing brought about a new generation of Hong Kong entrepreneurs – those who seize the day to build a new generation of businesses. The government is highly supportive (events several times a week, financial incentives for foreign startups to open offices in town, a once-a-year show for startups), first corporations created their own incubators (e.g. Swire Group’s Blueprint or Accenture’s FinTech lab), and a grass-roots entrepreneurship scene has emerged. I was impressed by the spirit and the very concerted effort “from Hong Kong …
We brought 10 selected hi-potential startups to New York and they got to pitch before a full house. Really enjoyed that evening – great energy and a great impression made by Swiss startups in the “Big Apple”. Since then, one of the startups set up their New York office in the space where we held the event: Flatev. … running the show that night: David Weber, project manager for the event at the City of Zurich and myself, MC for the night.
Interesting to learn about the City of New York’s economic development plans as a part of the delegation of the Mayor of Zurich. The scale of the projects is staggering! Great learning that day.
I had the opportunity to visit with the City of San Francisco as a part of a delegation from Zurich. Very impressive how San Francisco deals with tight budgets, constant growth and the need to specialize. There is much more to the management of this city than this impressive meeting table and door leading to the mayor’s office….. Zurich and San Francisco have been sister cities for more than 10 years and I am representing the startup community on the committee. And, interestingely, both San Francisco and New York city managements seem to have a thing with very massive wooden tables!
While lecturing at HWZ, our university helped set up a hotel management school in Bhutan. I was fortunate to travel there twice for pro-bono teaching. The students of the hotel management school organized the first ever opera concert in Bhutan. Here we are enjoying high tea after the concert: Michelle Chang, Soprano and Masayuki Nagano, Piano, together with the Prime Minister of Bhutan and HRH the Princess of Bhutan.