In 2007, Eric Friedman and James Park, two young men in the United States, realized that sensor and wireless technology could be advanced to create awesome health and fitness experiences. They decided to establish an early venture and kick-start product innovation. The result of their creativity and business acumen was Fitbit, the wearable gadget. This intelligent fitness tracker has changed our lifestyle. Eight years after Fitbit was founded, the company’s projected sales in 2015 will reach US$ 1.76 billion, with a market capitalization over US$7 billion.
In contrast, Nokia, the global leader in mobile phone technology, had a different story. Faced with the launch of iPhone and Android smartphones in 2007, Nokia began to lose ground. The management was reportedly “too conservative” and reluctant to change. Eventually, Nokia fell behind Samsung and Apple within just one year and subsequently, its market value slumped 87% in four years.
Hong Kong manufacturers could take a page from the above two examples. In the past few years, machinery and software developers have already implemented the experience and know-how they gained from the molding industry to both advanced software and hardware. This transformation allowed companies to easily grasp the techniques of high-end mould design. Manufacturing efficiency has been greatly enhanced by shorter production cycles, resulting in the fast and robust launch of new products. Mould manufacturers who do not chalk up the capital investment would quickly lose the competitiveness and even risk being phased out in the market. In addition, domestic enterprises on the Mainland, nowadays, have also made very impressive progress in both design and marketing competencies. Therefore Hong Kong manufacturers should speed up the development of new technology and explore new business models.
To meet emerging challenges, Hong Kong Mould & Die Council (HKMDC) will continue serving the industry by encouraging technology upgrades and innovative design in the industry, supporting specialty products and paving the way for a broader market. We could also seize the opportunities offered by the rise of the innovative industry. We have no doubt that one of the strengths of the molding industry is having many prominent mould engineers. They could provide professional and practical advice to accelerate the product development process and launch new products earlier. Nowadays, these innovation companies usually rely on crowd funding to support their operations. Therefore, we have a chance not only participating in product development, but also playing a role as investors. The success of these products brings considerable returns and offers a more diversified business model than “build-to-print”. Since 2009, the US, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Mainland China and even Israel, have continued to strengthen research and development. According to 14th Annual Global CEO Survey, the majority of CEOs in these places believed “Innovation”, “Talent” and collaboration with government and innovative partners are the dominant company strategies under the challenges of globalization. Therefore, many incubating funds and technical support platforms have been set up to encourage design and innovative technology. This is also the trend underpinning the future of Hong Kong traditional industries, including the mould and die industry.
In this respect, the Council will foster the objective of embracing innovation and exploring new business opportunities across different industries in 2015-17. We hope to encourage and support members in taking part in product innovation with design companies, opening up a more diversified business model. This would give the molding industry the opportunity to take part in original design or even branding. Towards this objective, the Council has newly established two sub-committees, namely “Cross-industry Networking Committee” and “Public Communications and Social Media Committee”, aimed at developing a more efficient and far-reaching social platform. In August 2015, the FHKI has also preliminarily linked up members with local and overseas innovative and design companies to exchange market intelligence at the Pitch Night event at PMQ, catching the IoT (Internet of Things) wave.
Looking forward, the Council will not only arrange insightful factory visits in China but will also join some cross-industry events. Along with the events, we will also collaborate with innovation and technology organizations, including but not limited to Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, Hong Kong Productivity Council, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited, PMQ, Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre and other tertiary institutions. We will also join innovation exhibitions and conferences on the Mainland and overseas. To embark on communication with innovative industries, we will start a networking platform through social media for members and a variety of innovation companies to collaborate.
Finally, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to fellow members for their unfailing support. It is an honour for me to serve the Council with Vice Chairman Mr. Felix Choi and the new Executive Committee in the 2015-17 term. During this term, the Hong Kong Mould & Die Council will ride the new wave to open up more opportunities for members. Although we may come up against new challenges, we believe we can definitely overcome them with our wealth of experience and that we can grasp opportunities with the unwavering support of the stalwarts in the industry.