Innovative support available to scale up businesses amid Covid-19 recovery

A number of new business support models are available to small businesses, providing a one-stop shop of support and facilitating their growth, according to a new study by ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

Traditionally, government initiatives and high street advice outlets provided a business support infrastructure for SMEs. ACCA’s new report Space to Grow examines how new and emerging business support models are being used to allow more SMEs (small medium-sized enterprises) to achieve rapid growth, but also to support business recovery post Covid-19. The report is based on a number of case studies from around the world and provides practical insight to SMEs and accountants looking to interact with these support models.

Accountants and small and medium-sized accountancy practices have an important role within this space. Start-ups and growth businesses need sound financial management and data as they start and grow their businesses. Accountants and small and medium-sized practices (SMPs) can provide much more than mere compliance – they can become growth partners, and grow alongside their clients.

Some of the innovative mechanisms supporting scale-ups include:

·       Incubators: supporting business creation and development. They are typically physical spaces, which provide additional services such as training and mentoring for entrepreneurs, access to networks, and sometimes specialist equipment or facilities such as laboratories.  They can be non-profit institutions set up by Universities, Governments, agencies or donors, or commercial enterprises set up by private sector companies and investor groups.

·       Accelerators: focused on growth and often including assistance in developing the business plan, investor pitch deck, prototypes, and initial market testing. In contrast to incubators, accelerators more often base their business model on equity from the start-ups. Historically, accelerators have been highly focused on funding, although elements such as networking, mentoring and market access are increasingly seen as equally important.

ACCA’s head of Hong Kong Jane Cheng says: ‘Success of scale-ups depends increasingly on new business models of support. This is particularly important in the post Covid-19 recovery of small businesses.

‘Covid-19 has put extreme pressure on smaller businesses, many of which have closed their doors as a result.  Others have experienced extremely rapid growth. 

‘SMPs have a crucial role to play in the future provision of small business support and should explore new opportunities to work more closely with the developers of accelerator and incubator programmes. Accountants provide clients with the solid financials and forecast needed to enter incubation and acceleration programmes and pitch to investors.’

Jane continues: ‘This challenging period has also highlighted the need to develop and strengthen partnerships with other stakeholders (such as technology hubs) of the small business support ecosystem. Covid-19 has also reconfirmed the importance of the SMP and we have seen an unprecedented mobilisation of the SMP community: practitioners have been working individually and collectively to keep thousands of small businesses afloat.

‘We’re delighted to have invited Cyberport to take part in this global research, sharing on how Cyberport stimulated cross-collaboration among over 1,600 start-ups and technology enterprises in Hong Kong SAR. Its case study demonstrated the importance of cultivating a full ecosystem for the new ventures and start-ups, exposing them to a range of business / investment opportunities.’        

Eric Chan, chief public mission officer at Cyberport says: ‘As Hong Kong’s digital technology flagship, Cyberport not only provides financial assistance and incubation support, our extensive partner networks are of the greatest value in bridging start-ups to tech giants, enterprises and investors to help them get the right technology, customers and investments respectively. Our professional service partner network of accountants, legal and intellectual property consultants, marketing consultants, etc. provide holistic support for the start-up community. All these contribute to a comprehensive ecosystem catering to every step of a start-up’s entrepreneurial journey.’

Jane suggests: ‘Policymakers focused on supporting growth-oriented businesses need to do more to consider the role of finance professionals developing the start-up and small business support ecosystems.’

Read the full report:

- Ends -

For more information, please contact

Jacqueline Lam

+852 2973 1106

Winnie Pang

+852 2973 1112

Notes to Editors


About ACCA

ACCA is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. We’re a thriving global community of 227,000 members and 544,000 future members based in 176 countries that upholds the highest professional and ethical values.

We believe that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society that supports both public and private sectors. That’s why we’re committed to the development of a strong global accountancy profession and the many benefits that this brings to society and individuals.

Since 1904 being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. And because we’re a not-for-profit organisation, we build a sustainable global profession by re-investing our surplus to deliver member value and develop the profession for the next generation.

Through our world leading ACCA Qualification, we offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. And using our respected research, we lead the profession by answering today’s questions and preparing us for tomorrow.

ACCA now has 27,000 members and 154,000 future members in China, with 11 offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Qingdao, Wuhan, Changsha, Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR. The year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of ACCA Hong Kong. ACCA will continue its commitment in enabling ACCA members to deliver their best, and developing the accounting profession the world needs.

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