In continuation of our series exploring innovative tech hubs around the world, we take a look at what the Hong Kong tech scene has to offer
For many, Hong Kong is a city that offers a perfect mix – a rich history combined with plenty of modern amenities, architecture, and technology. Its location at the south-eastern tip of China places the city centrally within Asia, and there are plenty of links to both the US and Europe.
A bustling city of 7.4 million people in 2021, crime rates are extremely low and there are lots of beautiful islands and green places to explore too.
However, for all Hong Kong’s good points, there are also many serious factors to consider. There’s no denying that the city has been under the spotlight in recent years. Since 2020, there has been an exodus of tech talent due to social upheaval which included anti-government protests and the Covid-19 pandemic.
In fact, in August, the Census and Statistics Department announced that the city’s total population had declined to 7.29 million, a 1.6 per cent decrease, which represents the sharpest loss since the government began tracking figures in 1961.
This isn’t the first time the city has faced uncertainty and prevailed. In 1997, Britain returned Hong Kong (its former colony) to China. Ahead of this handover, Fortune magazine published a cover story called “The death of Hong Kong”. However, instead of floundering, the city became a gateway for foreign companies to do business with China. In fact, Hong Kong’s economy has doubled since 1997.
At the moment, while Hong Kong’s outlook for the future is still unclear, that doesn’t mean there isn’t growth within specific sectors and interesting opportunities for those working in the tech industry. Below, we explore three of the main sectors that make up Hong Kong’s tech scene.
Hong Kong has a long history as one of the world’s leading financial centres. It has only just been overtaken by Singapore as Asia’s top financial centre, and now ranks fourth globally.
With a long history of financial excellence in its DNA, it’s no surprise that the fintech sector is booming; the city is quickly becoming a fintech hub. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the sector bucked the global trend as companies continued to grow, raise capital and hire. Today, the city is home to over 10 unicorn companies including ZA International, WeLab, and Airwallex.
Earlier this year, Barclays celebrated 50 years of operating in Hong Kong, and the bank’s branch here acts as an Asia-Pacific hub. You can explore Barclays open roles right here.
AI and machine learning
Hong Kong is considered an attractive location to build an AI business, according to the Artificial Intelligence and Big Data report by the FinTech Association of Hong Kong (FTAHK), which surveyed 88 tech companies, including IBM, KPMG, and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp.
Indeed, the city has embraced AI with open arms. Everything from the metro system to healthcare workers’ rosters rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Hong Kong is even using AI to protect against the looming effects of climate change. The city has sensors collecting data on landslides, pollution, energy, and water levels. Top companies in this space include Sensegrass, Sleekflow, and BackHome.
One of the best-known companies in this sector is Meta. Back in June, it was announced that Mark Zuckerberg’s platforms would use Hong Kong as a testing ground to roll out several metaverse initiatives. Meta will work with local cafe chains, schools and art institutions to provide a “first-hand” metaverse experience, as well as launch pop-up metaverse exhibitions where visitors will be able to use the Meta Quest 2 VR headset.
While Meta has frozen the majority of its hiring as the company plans to be “somewhat smaller” by the end of 2023, there are some open roles available. Check those out here.
Big data is a sector of growth globally. In fact, according to a report by Statista, from 2020 to 2021, the percentage of organisations that employed 50 data scientists or more increased from 30 per cent to almost 60 per cent.
Hong Kong is uniquely positioned to become a data hub for many reasons. The city has reliable power, an abundance of tech professionals, and stringent data privacy and security laws. There is already a well-established data hub for key industries here, including finance, logistics, trade, and retail.
Key players in this industry include InData Labs, Right Data and IBM. A tech behemoth, this American company is headquartered in New York, and its operation is spread across 170 countries (including Hong Kong). It is well known as the biggest vendor for big data-related products and services. IBM is hiring: you can explore its available roles here.
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Pippa Hardy is a content creator and writer for Amply by Jobbio. She’s a work-from-home enthusiast who loves all things travel and tech. When she’s not writing up her next article, she’s usually hiking or spending a whole afternoon on Pinterest.
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