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Transformers: Age of innovation

We used to believe our future was forged in places such as Silicon Valley.

We’ve witnessed how Apple changed our views on digital devices, how Facebook rocked the way we communicated, or how Amazon upended the book industry.

All these revolutionising products started years and even decades ago, but they have never stopped re-innovating themselves (well, some seemed to have slowed down over time, but some are still trying very hard) by refining their technology, and advancing their services so as to revisit their brand identity.

The past 10 years have had no shortage of innovative players, most prominently Airbnb, Uber, Pinterest and Snapchat, springing up in the Bay Area to prove it’s not impossible for a start-up to grow into a “unicorn” (worth more than US$1 billion) within just a couple of years.

Following in their footsteps, tech start-ups in Hong Kong are popping up all over the city in the hope to catch a whiff of the profits of technological innovation; most of which focuses on mobile, wearable tech or e-commerce, basically where everybody is heading.

We’re in a golden era for new entrepreneurs, no doubt, and they can probably grab a large sum of money in a short period of time with a little innovative practice; however, how long the money will keep flowing is another matter, because usually what consumers will stick with are things that contribute to the wellbeing of society.

Look at Mark Zuckerberg’s jaw-dropping philanthropic plan to donate 99% of Facebook shares to charitable causes to forge a better future for healthcare and education. Real entrepreneurs care about society.

In this innovation feature, we talk to three top minds in Hong Kong across different industries, looking at how much progress they’ve made in the competition of innovation and technology.

We talk to them not only because of their business success, but also because they share the same ambition to foster true innovation – which is not merely a matter of implementing something new or making a monetary profit, but about achieving an impact on society’s wellbeing.

Even more than that, these innovative thinkers have gone beyond trying to solve existing problems to addressing problems that people have not been aware of.

Their solutions are sometimes rooted in brilliant technology and sometimes simply an implementation of a world-changing idea; either way, their success rests on a powerful belief that they can change the world. Let’s see whether you agree.

In this special feature we look at three companies radically altering consumer behaviour and leaving their mark on the Hong Kong industry.

These three include Uber’s Sam Gellman, AIA’s Steve Monaghan and Prenetics’ Danny Yeung.