entrepreneurship initiatives

In 2018, the Financial Times ranked us third in Asia among “Top MBA Programs for Entrepreneurship.” The combined strength of our Business and Engineering Schools,diversified student body, and open and dynamic culture, plus the booming economy in Asia— these all position HKUST as an ideal hub for nourishing startups. If you are interested in exploring opportunities in entrepreneurship, consider participating in the following initiatives:

HKUST One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition

Entrepreneurship is not just about ideas, but about putting them into practice to realize your dreams. Each year our MBA students participate in this annual competition to test their start-up ideas. The competition judges are investors and industry experts, who will provide you with valuable advice and feedback throughout the course of the competition. The cash prize can be used as seed money to further commercialize your inventions, and the winning teams from HKUST also get to compete with other teams across Greater China for a more comprehensive learning experience.

Social Entrepreneurship & Venture Philanthropy

This practitioner-driven experiential learning course offers a unique student-directed venture philanthropy fund, which will be awarded to one of the social ventures with which the student teams work throughout the course. You will learn how to use business concepts and strategies to address social and sustainability issues, by thinking outside the box and taking calculated risks.

Entrepreneurship Center & Entrepreneurship Club

The HKUST Entrepreneurship Center (EC) was established in 1999 to support innovation and entrepreneurship across the campus. The center organizes a wide range of activities designed to foster entrepreneurial spirit at the university level and cultivate a risk-taking value-creation mindset. In addition, an Entrepreneurship Club led by our MBA students allows them to build more connections and gain more knowledge about the entrepreneurial landscape in Hong Kong and Asia. Here are some of the events we have held in recent years:

  • Entrepreneurship Workshops (e.g. user experience/user interface design, digital marketing for startups)
  • Entrepreneurship Week
  • Hackathons
  • Startup advisory & mentoring program
  • Overseas entrepreneurship study tours (e.g. Korea, Australia)
  • B.E.S.T. (Business, Engineering, Science, Together) joint-school idea incubation events
  • Incubator visits: Blueprint (Swire Properties), Science Park, Cyberport, HAX (Shenzhen)

Funding Schemes

We also have a range of other funding schemes amounting to almost HK$ 7 million per year, that support start-ups created by our students and alumni. Some examples include our Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities (TSSSU), USTAR Fund for Students, Proof-of-Concept Fund (PCF), Entrepreneurship Acceleration Fund (EAP) and Yeung Wing Yee Entrepreneurs Fund (YWYEF). With little more than two decades of history, our innovative spirit has kept us ahead of the game.

A Success Story

While on an exchange to Duke University, Thomas discovered that about 10% of Americans bought insurance on the Internet each year. Thomas realized that the third-party online insurance channel in China has enormous potential. Thus, Thomas and his friend House Guang set up the Xiaoyusan Insurance Company. The key entrepreneurial team of Xiaoyusan Insurance came from Tencent, with nearly a decade of experience in customer operations and electronic commerce. They cooperated with insurance companies under exclusive arrangements to create customized insurance policies. In 2015, Xiaoyusan Insurance Company launched a new sports insurance program with Ping An Insurance. A well-known insurance company in China that was voted into the rankings of the world's 250 most valuable financial technology companies by CB Insights. Over the past three years, more than 400 customized Xiaoyusan Insurance products have been sold on its platform with nearly 10 million users and investment institutions such as Sequoia and Matrix which rank among the top investment institutions in China. Xiaoyusan Insurance also developed an insurance customization AI “Jingjing”, the “Woodpecker” risk control system and the AICS claim system. In the future, Xiaoyusan Insurance hopes to harness high technology to make even more changes in the insurance industry.


My journey at HKUST helped me set well-defined career targets. During my exchange at Duke University, I had the opportunity to research Fin-tech development in Asia. When I returned, I decided to start my adventure in the online insurance technology business, an open frontier in China. Thanks to HKUST’s amazing network of alumni, my business expanded rapidly and we are now the leading online insurance fin-tech company in China, with nearly 10 million users all around the country. If you are exploring the idea of an MBA, HKUST is definitely the best choice.

Thomas Xu Class of 2011 Founder & President,
The Umbrella Insurance Agency Co.Ltd.
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