Later this month ECCI will launch its first base outside Edinburgh in Hong Kong. The Scotland Hong Kong Centre for Carbon Innovation (SHKCCI) will provide a conduit for Scottish organisations aiming to create local partnerships and introduce products and services to Hong Kong businesses. The Team Scotland Centre will be led by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) and is funded by the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and BRE Scotland. Look out for more news on our website soon.
Below we hear from Kate Armitage, from Scottish SME Route Monkey, about her experiences on her first trip to Hong Kong in May. Kate will return to Hong Kong with eight other ambitious low carbon enterprises to help launch the new SHKCCI later this month.
At the end of May ECCI ten Scottish companies took part in a shared initiative between ECCI and Scottish Development International initiative to share best business practise ideas with Hong Kong and Chinese counterparts. For a full itinerary and list of the companies who made the trip visit our website.
Expanding a business internationally can be daunting for a small business like Route Monkey. So when we were offered the opportunity to join a trade mission to Hong Kong, along with other fast growing Scottish SMEs, I was very excited. We already work with fleets operating in most UK towns and cities; and the potential for Route Monkey to create a positive impact in Asia helping to tackle their current challenges with road congestion and poor air quality was too good an opportunity to miss.
Route Monkey specialises in the development of algorithms and software that drives efficiency in the fleet logistics sector, ensuring the right vehicle is in the right place, at the right time, with the right driver. We help fleets save money by reducing mileage and carbon, and helping fleets model the potential for ultra-low carbon vehicles such as electric or hydrogen. This ‘win: win’ approach has seen us grow to over 500 customers in the last 9 years, including working with high-profile retailers such as Iceland and Net A Porter. This practical, low-risk approach, translates well into international markets with large road transport fleets, using over stretched road infrastructure that need to reduce their carbon footprint. Perfect for Hong Kong.
I arrived in Hong Kong slightly nervous, having never travelled to Asia before either for business or pleasure. But my reservations were allayed as soon I arrived at the airport; the signage was in English and the train service (TMR) that runs from the airport to Hong Kong Island was easy to use, reliable, clean and fast. First impressions count, and throughout the trip I learned that public transport in Hong Kong (train, tram, bus, taxi) is the mainstay for well over 90% of the population.
Perhaps because Hong Kong is a former British Colony, English is widely spoken, both in business and hospitality, which makes life much easier. I was treated with courtesy and received a very warm welcome from our hosts. Of course, much of the credit for the organisation and our reception in Hong Kong, is thanks to both ECCI and SDI who had prepared an impressive and busy itinerary for the group throughout the visit. I met with high-profile companies including: Marks & Spencer, Swire, Wah Kwong, Octopus, The Hong Kong Jockey Club, Poly U and CLP (China Light & Power). I also learned more about the local economy, legislation and environmental issues in a series of meetings with Invest Hong Kong, The Climate Group and Business Environment Council among others.
All in all it was an excellent itinerary that has given Route Monkey an overview of the market opportunities and introduced us to some of the most prestigious companies in Hong Kong. What next? I have already been in touch with my new contacts and I am hoping to schedule a second visit to Hong Kong shortly to develop these relationships. Route Monkey is continuing to work closely with ECCI and SDI, and we are planning to rent hot desk space from ECCI at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park. It is a fantastic facility that will allow Route Monkey to operate an office in Hong Kong while keeping overheads to a minimum. At the same time we have an opportunity to network with the Smart Mobility cluster located at the Park and utilise the TecONE zone designed to support new business innovation.
We are still very much at the beginning of our market entry to Asia but, with the support of ECCI and SDI, Route Monkey is genuinely excited about the potential to take our products and services global.
Projects & Strategy Director, Route Monkey