The revitailised Central Market will be a testbed for local proptech innovations, as Chinachem Group and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) last week announced the 10 technology startups selected to deploy their solutions at the iconic 82-year-old market.
This is part of the pilot-first "CCG Accel – Powered by HKSTP" accelerator” programme, which allows tech ventures to install and test solutions in a real market environment even at concept stage. The first batch of shortlisted startups have exclusive opportunity to develop pilot solutions at the Central Market in collaboration with Chinachem Group to ensure they can deliver market-ready solutions before general adoption.
“We are excited to be working with HKSTP to support high-potential tech ventures and their innovations that can make Hong Kong a better place to live, work and play for our future generation,” said Donald Choi, executive director and CEO, Chinachem Group. "Our expertise and wide portfolio of commercial properties provide the ideal testing and development opportunities for innovation to thrive. We believe this can accelerate smart city development in Hong Kong and benefit people, prosperity and planet."
Chinachem Group was awarded the operation contract for the iconic market in February this year.
Accelerating product development process
Indeed, the pioneering pilot-first accelerator program speeds up the product development process, while closing the critical gap between ideation and commercialisation which halts many early-stage ventures. The process allows tech ventures to collect valuable data and instant user feedback so that they can strengthen the opportunities for adoption.
Grouped under “Cohort 1”, the tech startups participating in proptech innovations at Central Market
Cohort 1 participants will focus in the areas of visitor experience, environment and sustainability, as well as operation and facility management.
Pilot testing will take place from September to December 2021, with a final demo day in January 2022 when all participating tech ventures will showcase their solutions. By collecting real-life data through trials at Central Market, the final winning innovations may be adopted within Central Market itself and help revitalise the building into a 21st century marketplace blending old and new.
Access to training and HKSTP’s tech ecosystem
HKSTP will facilitate a programme of training sessions during the pilot period to equip the selected tech ventures with diverse technology and business skills. The tech ventures will benefit from direct access to HKSTP's extensive ecosystem and value-added services.
"This unique partnership with Chinachem Group is a continued extension of the HKSTP I&T ecosystem to new locations in Hong Kong and will help innovators fast-track their ground-breaking ideas into fully-tested solutions ready for market adoption,” said Albert Wong, CEO, HKSTP.
He added: “We constantly seek new ways to smooth tech ventures' path to success and this programme will spur more successful innovation while also propelling Hong Kong's smart city vision with smart property and retail solutions."
The "CCG Accel – Powered by HKSTP" accelerator” programme features a series of three themed cohorts, which will use designated Chinachem Group properties as a testing stage in each cohort as the innovators are tasked to solve property-based challenges. CCG will also assign mentors to each programme participant and provide industry insight and knowledge to refine their solution with the participating tech ventures.
The landmark Central Market started trial operation three weeks ago after completing the first phase of revitalisation that spanned three years at the cost of HK$500 million. The first phase of revitalisation covered 80% t of its work space, open space facing Queen's Road Central and its atrium.
Central Market was handed over to the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) in 2009, and revitalisation work began in October 2017. The market opens officially in November, with 20% of the market still under construction – it is expected to be total completed in the second quarter of 2022.
The short-listed technology startups selected to participate in the Central Market proptech pilots are:
- Apicem Technology Services Company Limited (ATS) - provides a smart air purifying system that prevents cross air contamination and keeps air quality high. It uses a high voltage direct current air purifying system with a patented metal foam material with fully automated monitoring in a totally green device. Using this keeps buildings up to sustainability standards and air quality high for better health and productivity. It will be installed at Central Market to give a safe and comfortable indoor environment for people.
- Dayta AI Limited - provides a real-time plug and play solution that collects visitor data in shopping malls, retail outlets and exhibitions. It is an all-in-one service which integrates with existing cameras and provides data analysis and visualisation of visitors. Dayta.ai will help address market needs in Central Market via its building management services platform and provide performance indicators to continuously perfect operation quality. Using this platform, management staff can learn more about its frequent customers and market demographic, and tailor more caring experiences for visitors using real data.
- i2Cool Limited - invented a passive radiative cooling paint (patented in Hong Kong) that can achieve an electricity-free and refrigerant-free self-cooling effect. By applying this paint on the roof or external walls of buildings, the indoor air temperature can be decreased, saving the energy usage of air-conditioning systems and reducing carbon emission. Apart from that, adopting this technology would cut down both running and installation costs of cooling equipment and reduce the amount of maintenance needed. At the same time, by reducing the amount of equipment, more space can be freed up for other amenities. The cooling paint developed by i2Cool will be tested in the Central Market and make it a place to CHILL.
- Megasoft Limited - provides real-time temperature monitoring and track & trace solutions for the F & B industry, where food management, cooking safety, and food delivery are primary concerns. To ensure that these primary concerns are fully addressed by food stalls, restaurants, central kitchens, or even processing centres, the solutions have been developed to preserve food safety during transportation, assuring the temperatures of several food types across multiple outlets can be instantly tracked. The ultimate result would be a safer kitchen and a more satisfying experience for diners in the Central Market.
- Negawatt Utility Limited - established an Anti-COVID Management Solution and implemented Negawatt Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) solution on-site, with the control capability to high-quality air disinfection system. Multiple Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Sensors and people count devices are deployed at Central Market and continuously collecting IEQ data. Based on the activities of the site and immediate IEQ data , Negawatt A.I. calculates the Risk Factor on indoor environmental safety. With reference to different Risk Value, Negawatt A.I. is capable to activate the air-disinfection system installed at Central Market, providing a safe & immunised indoor environment for visitors.
- Novelte Robotics Limited – developed Heritage , a guiding robot designed a futuristic and interactive experience for visitors wanting to learn more about the site. This robot is fully automated, increasing the appeal of the area with its personalised service which decreasing staff workload. It also adds to the customer's experience while visiting to be able to enjoy a unique heritage tour at Central Market.
- Optical Sensing Limited – specialises in fibre optic sensing monitoring system development and installation to achieve digital transformation in building and facility management. The system uses optical fibre cables as tools and installed in targeted facilities such as air conditioning system, water and sewer pipes and power network. Optical fibre cables can collect data from difficult to reach pipelines to understand their condition. This provides predictive monitoring to prevent public areas of Central Market from being closed off, giving a better service to visitors.
- Rice Robotics Limited – developed an unmanned, autonomous robot that guides customers during the day and patrols for security at night. It is fully integrated to elevators and gates, and seemingly becomes part of a building's day to day operation. It increases shopping outlets appeal with its futuristic functions, alleviates staff workload from repetitious and tedious tasks and gives a unique and enhanced visitors experience.
- RV Automation Technology Company Limited - Developed people-centric robot. Its patrol and food tray collection robot aims to help enhance operational efficiency, reduce labour costs, and ensure consistent performance. Using this robot not only increases the appeal of the site, but also significantly reduces staff workload from menial tasks while giving visitors something interesting to experience.
- Tech Hill Limited – Developed a 3D multiple radar array bird deterrent is a product that protects buildings from damage and reduce maintenance from hard-to-read areas. It protects the historical and valuable building and rooftop of Central Market from unexpected damage and provides a smooth, comfortable and worry-free experience for visitors.