The Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur Hub, known as the E Hub, located in the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone, has become more than a base for Shenzhen and Hong Kong startups to realize their dreams, but also a bridge for communications between the young generation in both locations.
Established on Dec 7, 2014, it has helped more than 100 startups by the end of October, of which about half are from Hong Kong.
Occupying a land area of about 58,000 square meters with a planned area of about 40,000 sq m, the E Hub has a total building area of about 27,000 sq m.
In addition to business incubators, it also features a convention and exhibition center, a multipurpose innovation center and an apartment complex.
Witman Hung Wai-man, principal liaison officer for Hong Kong afairs for the Shenzhen Qianhai Authority, said the E Hub is one of the biggest achievements of the Qianhai special zone in the last three years.
The E Hub provides attractive hardware environments for both Shenzhen and Hong Kong startups, including Hong Kong-style offices rent-free for a year, free high-speed Wi-Fi, long distance calls charged at local rates and property management by a Hong Kong company.
Startups in the E Hub can also enjoy Qianhai's preferential policies on tax and subsidies. For instance, qualified companies in encouraged industries, such as modern logistics, information and technology services, are entitled to a reduced corporate income tax rate of 15 percent.
The E Hub has developed an innovative and entrepreneurial climate where startups can easily find business partners.
Two or more startups may use a shared office and product exhibition centers at coffee shops in the E Hub. The 3W coffee shop, which targets startup operators and has been visited by Premier Li Keqiang at its shop in Beijing, has also set up in the innovation hub as a meeting place for innovators and investors.
Ricky Leung, the 20-something cofounder of Hong Kong startup Printact, said he enjoyed such an office arrangement because it provides an easy opportunity to communicate with other startups and investors.
"We often discuss high-tech projects together over meals or tea and sometimes technicians from other startups offer very good suggestions for our own project," Leung said.
Shenzhen VxFly Intelligent Information Technology, the innovator of an HD digital video transmission system for drones, originally shared an office with a drone maker startup. The two have become close partners.
Startups may also find business financiers looking for innovative projects as there are more than 60 of the world's top 500 companies registered in the Qianhai special zone.
Leung left his hometown a year ago and moved his company to the Chinese mainland to the E Hub, where he hopes to realize his dreams.
"At first, we were attracted by the special policies offered by Qianhai, such as low tax rates, subsidies and discounted office rental," he said. "Also, I think Qianhai is a good place for Hong Kong entrepreneurs to understand and enter the Chinese mainland market."
Hung of the Shenzhen Qianhai Authority said the E Hub is a wise choice for innovative businesses that want to develop their mainland market, "The huge mainland market opportunities make the E Hub an ideal location to start business for pioneering Hong Kong youth," he said.
To provide financial and professional support for such startups, the E Hub has so far gathered about 25 top international investment companies and incubator projects, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China Telecom, CT-Venture, Huawei, Lenovo's Legend Star, DJI-Innovations and a professional team from Silicon Valley.
They have pledged to provide strong and diversified support in finance, education, and business opportunities to startups from both Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
Deng Yongqiang, chairman of the Qianhai Houde Entrepreneur Incubator, said his company has invested in 10 Hong Kong startups and will soon establish a fund of 100 million yuan ($15.63 million) for HK startups.
The E Hub has also become a bridge for business, technology and culture exchanges among youths in Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
"The E Hub should continue to support young people's innovation and startups," Deng said. "It should also further facilitate communication between young people cross borders in innovation, culture and education."
Deng and his team are organizing Hong Kong professors, experts and investors in the field of technology to visit the E Hub and Shenzhen to provide help for young entrepreneurs.
"With these communications, more Hong Kong companies with professional experience and international resources can participate in the development of small and medium-sized startups on the mainland, which is a very important aspect of Shenzhen and HK cooperation," Deng said.
The Hong Kong government is also encouraging more Hong Kong companies and professionals to develop on the mainland.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor promised at an annual meeting of the advisory committee of the Qianhai special economic zone in November that entrepreneurs in the special zone could apply for a 300-million-yuan fund that would be established by the SAR government.