“HKPC Funding Schemes” Announces Findings on “SME Development and Support”
“HKPC Funding Schemes” Announces Findings on “SME Development and Support” Nearly 70% of SMEs in Hong Kong Urges the Government to Bolster Funding Schemes Related to Marketing and Promotion
(Hong Kong, 17 January 2024) “HKPC Funding Schemes” recently announced the findings on “SME Development and Support” (“The Findings on SME”) and held the BEE2 Inauguration Ceremony on the same day. The event invited Dr Bernard CHAN Pak-li, JP, Under Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, HKSAR Government, to deliver the opening remarks. Dr CHAN, Hon Sunny TAN, Chairman of HKPC, and Ms Vivian LIN, Chief Operating Officer of HKPC, officiated the Ceremony.
During his welcoming speech, Hon Sunny TAN, Chairman of HKPC, stated, “As Hong Kong's leading implementation agent of funding schemes, HKPC provides secretariat services for 10 funding schemes and is committed to understanding the needs of SMEs. In view of this, BEE Square (BEE2) will be set up today to provide a platform for applicants of the Government funding schemes to interact and exchange views regularly to enable SMEs and startups to obtain timely and appropriate information on Government funding schemes.”
“The Findings on SME” indicated that over 70% of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong desire the Government to introduce funding schemes related to marketing and promotion, which reflects SMEs' demand for expanding into Mainland and overseas markets.
Overview of SMEs Development: 58% of Respondents Have Yet to Reach Pre-pandemic Business Performance
In the second half of 2023, HKPC Funding Schemes commissioned the Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey (CCPOS) of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to conduct a survey to learn about the challenges and development direction for SMEs in the post-pandemic era, their views on Government funding schemes, as well as the application processes and the information platforms. The survey received online responses from over 500 representatives of SMEs, and six focus group interviews were conducted, which included 30 SME representatives from different sectors.
According to the survey, in terms of business challenges, 58% of enterprises stated that their “business performance has not returned to pre-pandemic levels”. Furthermore, “lack of cash flow” and “increased operating costs” accounted for 57% each. As for future business goals, 60% of enterprises identified “profit maximisation” as their top priority, while 51% and 44% of enterprises respectively indicated “growth/expansion (outside Hong Kong)” and “increase operational efficiency and productivity” as their development objectives.
“Marketing and Promotion”, “Talent Acquisition”, and “Support for Business Expenses” Ranked the Top Three in Terms of The Most Desirable Funding Schemes
Faced with business challenges, over half of the SME respondents stated that they had previously applied for Government funding schemes to support their business development, while 72% of the SME respondents expressed their intention to apply for funding within the next 24 months. The survey also indicated that SMEs have a strong desire for the Government to introduce funding schemes related to “marketing and promotion” (72%), “talent recruitment” (49%) and “support for business operating expenses” (49%). The survey also assumes the Government introduces funding schemes to support the expansion of Hong Kong businesses for SMEs, and 80% of the respondents expressed strong interest in applying.
Professor Clement SO, Research Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, CUHK, said, "The survey results reflect that the majority of Hong Kong's SMEs face various financial challenges after the COVID-19 pandemic and expect Government support in areas such as talent supply, daily operations, and information technology. Government funding schemes are crucial measures for SMEs to develop their businesses and implement digital transformation. Over 70% of SMEs indicate that they will apply for Government funding in the next 24 months, which precisely reflects this point. Furthermore, over 80% of the respondents also expressed interest or strong interest in applying for funding schemes aimed at expanding their business in Hong Kong, highlighting the importance of the local market. On the other hand, the Government funding schemes information platform plays a significant role as a vital channel for SMEs to access the application process and stay updated with the latest news regarding funding schemes. Through this survey, it is found that SMEs consider an ideal information platform to provide a single sign-on (SSO) account for handling different applications, successful case sharing across various industries, and a community for applicants to exchange experiences. Under the influence of the current economic environment and various uncertain factors, assisting SMEs in effectively utilising Government funding schemes to achieve different business objectives is an important task.
In terms of the Government's role, SMEs hope that the Government can take the lead in coordinating and assisting SMEs in expanding their presence in Mainland and overseas markets. This includes organising exchange programmes, study tours, and exhibitions to help SMEs gain an in-depth understanding of target markets, especially local regulations and market information, opening up opportunities. Other suggestions are as follows:
- Local and Overseas Talent: Optimise policies for recruiting overseas talent, relax the requirements for overseas universities, and consider factors beyond rankings. Additionally, strengthen local talent training, particularly in the field of Information Technology (IT)
- Operating Costs: Introduce low-interest mortgage loans to help SMEs avoid difficulties in applying for bank financing
- IT Development: Assist in attracting more local and Mainland IT service suppliers as the service suppliers of funding schemes
Lack of Awareness on Funding Information Platforms HKPC Implements Three Strategies to Empower SMEs with Updated Government Support
The survey also found that SMEs have insufficient awareness of funding scheme information platforms. The top three platforms recognised by the majority of respondents were “HKPC – Biz Expands Easy (BEE)” (29%), “Support and Consultation Centre for SMEs (SUCCESS)” (21%), and “HKPC - SME ReachOut” (20%). To enhance the awareness and utilisation of related platforms among SMEs, Ms Vivian LIN, Chief Operating Officer of HKPC, announced three major actions on the same day to assist these enterprises in achieving excellence and value-added growth, as well as making proper use of Government funding schemes:
- Establishing Biz Expands Easy Square (BEE2): BEE2 brings together Government departments, industry associations, and funding schemes applicants with the objective of establishing a communication platform that provides interactive experience-sharing sessions, helping SMEs as well as startups to obtain Government funding information. Applicants can submit applications on the BEE platform under the role of “Individual” or “Organisation”.
- Launching a New "Government Funding 101" Video Series: Short videos showcasing successful Government funding application cases will be shared to provide SMEs with an introductory guide to the application process.
- Enhancing BEE ePass Functionality with Integration of “iAM Smart” : The integration of “iAM Smart” with BEE ePass allows users to conveniently log in to BEE ePass using “iAM Smart” without the need to provide username and password, enabling them to access and manage the Government funding schemes administered by HKPC easily.
The report is available on Biz Expands Easy website : https://bee.hkpc.org/voc-announcement/
About “HKPC Funding Schemes”
Funding Schemes is one of the eight major development focuses of the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC). The HKSAR Government has launched multiple funding schemes to promote and support the development of various industries and enterprises in Hong Kong. HKPC provides secretariat services for Government funding schemes, serving Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong and encouraging different industries to utilise Government funding schemes for upgrading and transformation. “HKPC Funding Schemes” has launched several digital measures to enhance the user experience of applicants, including the “Biz Expands Easy (BEE)”, a one-stop online platform to provide Government funding information; the “BEE ePass” service to optimise the funding application process; the “TVP ePROQ” procurement platform to provide an open and transparent procurement platform for local enterprises and organisations; and the “Easy BUD” to provide a convenient application channel and expedite the approval process, enabling more enterprises to utilise funding on business development.
For more information, please visit the webpage of “BEE”: https://bee.hkpc.org/