HKU’s Seed Fund for Student and Staff Start-ups

by Natalie Lung | Photo credits: TSSSU@HKU | 25 October 2014

Many of HKU’s mature start-ups by students and alumni embark on their professional journey with the help of angel investors and funding schemes created by third parties like the Government and Cyberport. For start-ups at the idea stage, there are only few options of funding support offered to university students apart from the technology-related departments in their own universities. This problem may be even more evident to HKU students when it is said that there are no centralized support systems for student start-ups.

Starting from this year, however, as one of the six local universities to receive support from the new Technology Start-up Support Scheme (TSSSU) set up by the Government’s Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC), HKU is implementing a seed fund scheme named TSSSU@HKU to support home-grown technology start-ups by current full-time staff and students, and graduates for no more than 3 years for the very first time.


TSSSU@HKU aims to promote entrepreneurship at the University by transforming ideas into business operations with the maximum annual amount of $1.2 million that will be awarded to successful applicants. A start-up can be supported by TSSSU for a maximum of 3 years.


Interested parties should submit an application form and relevant supporting documents before 5 pm, 31st October, 2014 to be considered for the 30th November, 2014 to 31st March, 2015 funding period.

The deadline for applying for funding between 1st April, 2015 and 31st March, 2016 is 15th February, 2015.

Read on to find abridged details of the scheme.


The start-up must be a company of not more than 2 years and registered under the Companies Ordinance before ITC’s cut-off date—14th November, 2014. Its team can be a mix of current students, professoriate staff and alumni; Professors and graduates can also be invited on board to give R&D or business-related advice.


As stated in the Operation Plan for TSSSU@HKU, priority will be given to start-ups using inventions and technologies developed by HKU and those by HKU and its collaborators. Start-ups based on technologies developed by students or alumni as coursework at HKU (e.g. Final Year projects, research projects) and technology innovations by staff or students resulting from employment or studies at HKU will also be given priority.

As there is a limited amount of government funding available to the University, TSSSU@HKU should not be considered an investment to sustain a business. This seed fund would give priority to those who may already have additional funding and won’t need funding for a long duration.

Funding Scope

Funding will cover the costs of essential items for setting up and operating the start-up, expenditure on research and development, and promotion and marketing of the start-up and its outputs. The University has also compiled a list of items that will not be funded in the Operation Plan.

Though interested parties are required to base their start-ups in Hong Kong, up to 50% of the TSSSU funding provided to them in a year can be incurred overseas.

Assessment criteria

Each team’s applications will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Quality of the business plan (HKU-specific)
  • Innovation and tech content
  • Commercial viability
  • The team’s capability of R&D and management of the company
  • Social/community impact
  • Company’s potential to attract additional investment

Awardees of TSSSU@HKU who wish to be supported by the scheme again after one year will need to re-apply the next year. Those who are able to complete the milestones set up in their own business plan will be at an advantage when reapplying.

For more HKU-specific details, check out these presentation slides from the information session held earlier this month.

Please visit TSSSU@HKU’s official website for complete information.

Natalie Lung

A final-year Journalism and Computer Science student at HKU. News and Internet junkie with deep appreciation for the performing arts. Favourite music genre: retro, house.

Author: Natalie Lung

A final-year Journalism and Computer Science student at HKU. News and Internet junkie with deep appreciation for the performing arts. Favourite music genre: retro, house.

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