In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) has acted swiftly to change its strategy, migrating the nine physical exhibitions originally scheduled to be held by the end of July onto an online platform.

In addition, an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled business matching service is being introduced to help suppliers and buyers close more deals. Organised by the HKTDC, Summer Sourcing Weeks | Go ONLINE opens today (27 July) and runs until 7 August. This 9-in-1 virtual trade exhibition has attracted more than 1,300 exhibitors, featuring lighting, electronics, information and communications technology (ICT), medical and healthcare, houseware, fashion, home textiles and furnishings, gifts, printing and packaging products. This brand-new online exhibition platform will help global buyers to replenish supplies and assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in exploring new business opportunities during a difficult time. 

Benjamin Chau, HKTDC Deputy Executive Director, said: “Although the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting huge challenges for businesses globally, it also offers the prospect of online business opportunities for enterprises. The HKTDC has initiated various online promotions, including the Spring Virtual Expo in April and the Summer Virtual Expo in late June and July, to assist SMEs and international buyers overcome the challenges during this difficult period. Now, to further boost business connections between global exhibitors and buyers, we are launching Summer Sourcing Weeks | Go ONLINE, an advanced online virtual exhibition that runs for 12 days starting from today and features the AI-enabled Click2Match business matching platform to help SMEs forge more connections and opportunities.”

Mr Chau added that Summer Sourcing Weeks | Go ONLINE is one of the HKTDC initiatives helping to expand the e-commerce capabilities of Hong Kong businesses. “The HKTDC is actively equipping SMEs to embrace the digital economy. In addition to strengthening cooperation with a number of technology partners to provide Hong Kong companies with more cost-effective digital solutions, the interface and functions of our hktdc.com Sourcing online marketplace will be further enhanced and relaunched later this year, utilising a variety of new technologies to improve business matching efficiency.”

New AI business matching platform

The one-month Summer Virtual Expo drew to a successful close on 24 July, helping more than 22,000 suppliers connect with buyers from around the world. From April to July, the number of buyers browsing the hktdc.com Sourcing online marketplace increased by nearly 20% to 4.2 million compared to the same period in 2019.

Building on these achievements, Summer Sourcing Weeks | Go ONLINE helps exhibitors from the nine physical fairs build a virtual presence to connect with global buyers. The virtual exhibition offers multiple new functions that make it easy for buyers to source online. These include the Click2Match business matching platform that operates automatically using big data and AI technology, and other functions covering meeting planning, video meetings, live chat and online seminars run by industry experts, all of which will provide a better online sourcing and communication experience for buyers and exhibitors alike. The HKTDC’s 50 global offices have been keeping in touch with buyers who attended its physical fairs previously along with newly registered buyers. Over 5,000 business matching meetings have been pre-arranged to increase business opportunities.

Online seminars unveil future technologies and lifestyle trends

The Summer Sourcing Weeks | Go ONLINE portal highlights featured products and details of the nine fairs for participants’ easy reference. The Intelligence Hub introduces various webinars, including “Tech Trends Symposium 2020 – The Future of Intelligent Connectivity” (28 July), which will address the impact of the artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT), the smart home, 5G technology applications and other related issues. Elsewhere, representatives from WGSN, the global authority on consumer and design trends, will share their views in “WGSN Presents: Lifestyle & Interiors Trends Presentation S/S 2021” (29 July), while the “Asian Lighting Forum 2020 – Shaping the Future of Lights” (30 July) will analyse the prospects of smart lighting from a human-centric perspective. The “Trendwatcher – The Reshaping of Retail Landscape” seminar (31 July) will feature representatives from internationally renowned market research agency Euromonitor International and local branding consultancy REALLY DESIGN.

Anti-epidemic products highlighted

Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak began, local scientific research companies have worked to develop a range of anti-epidemic products for better hygiene and health protection. The online exhibition presents a variety of disease prevention and control products, with the Smart Health Hong Kong zone showcasing a wide range of locally developed healthcare products. They include an antibacterial and antiviral coating, a disinfection robot, nanofibre-technology air filters, air sanitisers, an AI-assisted body temperature screening system, quarantine tracking technology and more.

The stay-at-home economy has also been driving demand for consumer electronics and home entertainment equipment. The virtual fair features a broad selection of smart home and lifestyle products.

Exhibition subsidies benefit exhibitors

To assist enterprises in overcoming the challenges brought about by the pandemic, the HKTDC is providing a special subsidy of HK$5,000 for each exhibitor taking part in Summer Sourcing Weeks | Go ONLINE. The original participation fee for the fair was HK$10,000. After deducting this special subsidy, local companies that meet the application criteria for the SME Export Marketing Fund are eligible to apply for an additional 50% subsidy based on the original participation fee. This means that their participation in the virtual expo will be free of charge.