Opening Dialogue

Anita Ma, Chairperson of Playright moderated the opening dialogue with Rachel Chan, Co-Founder of Esperanza and Peter Yan, CEO of Cyberport. They shared the background of the partnership of the two organisations and their work plan this year to develop Hong Kong as an education innovation hub in the Greater Bay Area.

Chan points out that technology can be a powerful tool to facilitate more engaging, effective and meaningful learning. Yan explains that cultivating talent is one of the three public missions at Cyberport. And edtech is instrumental to their efforts in developing Hong Kong as a smart and sustainable city. 

Last year’s EdVentures Global Business Acceleration Summit as a spotlight event of the Cyberport Venture Capital Forum (CVCF) was a great start to an important partnership with Esperanza to explore deeper development of the edtech sector. The Edventures GBA Fellowship has illustrated  well the strength of Hong Kong in playing the role of facilitating international investment for developing edtech in GBA and the region. The Fellowship has helped to establish a network of local and international partners, providing a solid foundation for us to develop Hong Kong as the beach-head for education innovation in the Greater Bay Area.

Built on the initiatives last year, Esperanza and Cyberport would continue to work together to catalyse education innovation in Hong Kong. The work plan includes:

  • Conducting a comprehensive education innovation ecosystem mapping study to map out the development strategy
  • Capacity building for and facilitating collaborations between local educators as well as edtech start-ups
  • Growing the edtech community at Cyberport, attracting more startups and talents to Hong Kong and building the investors network 
  • Facilitating understanding and adoption of edtech solutions through an online STEM tournament with students
  • Looking into establishing a virtual cum physical early childhood education innovation laboratory to research, design, develop, pilot and evaluate best practices against the cultural context of Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area.
  • Digital upskilling and reskilling of Hong Kong’s workforce through the Cyberport Digital Academy and other initiatives.

Esperanza and Cyberport are planning to bundle a series of edtech and STEM related events for greater focus and impact. The two organisations are looking for funders, knowledge partners, event partners, mentors and volunteers to bring the ideas into fruition. 

Setting the Scene

K O Chia, a venture capitalist and family officer adviser, moderated this session with:

  • Kamran Elahian, Chairman and Founder of Global Innovation Catalyst
  • Dr Amir Zarkesh, CEO and Co-Founder of PolyUp

Elahian believes that youth nowadays have major opportunities to change the future for the better because they are creative and are not afraid of changing the status quo. And edtech can help create a new generation of youth skills that are essential in the innovation economy. Zarkesh is a serial entrepreneur but working in edtech is the most gratifying for him because of the positive social impact.

Zarkesh reckons that edtech is not startup friendly, as there are a lot of stakeholders with different interests. It is therefore crucial for edtech startups to work with partners to look after the interests of different stakeholder groups. Elahian echoes that agility, the ability to collaborate and manage relationships are very important in the innovation economy. The number of partners, instead of the number of employees, would be a good indicator of success. Both speakers point out social learning as a trend. As in the case of PolyUp, the platform enables children from around the world to learn together by building communities.