There is an increasing number of workshops and online courses dedicated to creativity, new technologies, innovation and design thinking which are crucial knowledge for sustaining the competitive advantages of firms. People who learn those soft skills and new competencies, altogether with creative and knowledge-based workers (artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs), are representative of the creative class which is described by Richard Florida as the leading force of growth in the economy. Those creative professionals are essential for the attractiveness of cities that we can call “Creative Technology Cities” or “CreaTech Hubs”.
Major Tech Hubs from all around the world cover almost any tech vertical based on digital and key enabling technologies. San Francisco, well known for web technologies, has moved towards BioTech and CleanTech. Moving over FinTech, CreaTech and DeepTech are tech trends taking off in London. CreaTech is a new core vertical promoted by the British Creative Industries Council which hosted the festival Createch 2017 to highlight sectors like fashion, games, design or media. Keeping in mind the wider range of the creative class, we should define CreaTech as a fuller spectrum of Creative and Tech insights.
CreaTech Hubs are cities at the core of the creative economy, a concept defined by John Howkins to bring together ideas about the creative industries, the cultural industries, creative cities, clusters and the creative class. In this way, CreaTech is a new paradigm that involves creativity, innovation and design at the intersection of technology to transform traditional sectors from RetailTech to Fintech. The digital transformation and smart cities are the factors of this incremental innovation process which, altogether with DeepTech (disruptive innovation based on substantial scientific advances), create innovation spaces.
During the StartMeUpHK Festival, I was surprised by the FashionTechAsia event organised at the creative space PMQ after the Retail’s Cutting Edge. Both events put Hong Kong as a strategic place in Asia to lead a business in the field of RetailTech/ FashionTech, such as GRANA which became the eCommerce success story or the wearable rising star ORII. Among the speakers, Nan Fung Group introduced one of the most ambitious FashionTech projects, The Mills, based on the rehabilitation of a former textile factory. The Fung Group, on the other hand, said that Explorium which is currently running in Shanghai should expand soon in Hong Kong.
HealthTechAsia was another great event to talk about the digitalisation of healthcare, biotechnologies as well as the so-called quantified self. In addition to connected devices, genomics is one of the most promising enabling technology. It allows personalised digital health with solutions such as nutrigenomics or pharmacogenomics provided by Prenetics. The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks gathers most of the other leading biotech companies in Hong Kong including Novoheart that engineers bioartificial human heart or Sanwa that provides Lab-on-chip diagnostics.
Benjamin Joffe, one of the speakers at the HealhTechAsia event, uses the term “wearapeuthics” to talk about the connected things that can replace or complement various therapies. From the creation of connected things or fashion products to the digitalisation of healthcare, I had the opportunity to share new ideas during two “Startup Weekends” dedicated to those topics. Not only the mentors and judges of both competitions inspired me, but also the students at the HKUST Entrepreneurship Center The BASE with whom I have organised one of the competitions.
This article is part of the Hong Kong — Shenzhen Innovation Hub series.