PolyU scheme boosts funds for innovators
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) established the PolyU Micro Fund Scheme in 2011 to nurture socially responsible young entrepreneurs. It is targeted at current students and recent graduates of the university that want to set up their own businesses.
“The scheme is a cornerstone of innovation and entrepreneurship education at PolyU,” says Nicholas Yang, executive vice-president of PolyU. “It offers an excellent out-of-classroom learning opportunity and experience for participants to supplement conventional classroom-based curriculum. By practising what they have learnt, participants consolidate their knowledge to build a solid foundation for their future entrepreneurial journey or career development.”
The scheme has two streams. The Entrepreneurship Stream provides HK$100,000 in seed money to help current students and recent graduates carry out their business plans. In addition to receiving seed money, awardees are offered incubation support at the “infancy stage” of their business. This includes office space and facilities in the PolyU Shenzhen Entrepreneurship Centre, structured training workshops and participation in a mentoring programme. The Innovation Stream focuses on creating a sustainable enhancement of student life on campus. Winning students receive a cash award for their creativity should the university decided to implement their proposal.
“There is no set number of awardees,” says Raymond Chu Chi-yin, assistant director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship at PolyU. “It really depends on the number and quality of applicants. A final decision is made by an independent assessment panel of entrepreneurs, business professionals, investors and local incubators such as Cyberport, the Hong Kong Design Centre and Hong Kong Science Park.”
The scheme is open to current and former students from all disciplines. While most students enrolled in the university’s MBA programmes have jobs, a number of them – particularly at the campus in Shenzhen – are aspiring entrepreneurs hoping to go into business for themselves.
“We encourage them to apply,” Chu says. “MBA students have business knowledge, working experience and a network so they already have a strong foundation to be successful entrepreneurs. As long as they really want to pursue a career as an entrepreneur, and can come up with an innovative, yet feasible, business proposal with good commercial potential that could contribute to society, we would seriously consider funding them.”
The first two rounds of the programme have seen 25 start-ups benefit. The third round was launched on 1 November.