Eric Chen, a Chinese born student who were shocked by the melamine milk powder scandal in 2008, decided to move to Hong Kong and continue his study and finally started a biotech company Vitargent to make a change product safety for our society. No wonder Hong Kong ranks in 2nd of the Youth Mobility Index(YMI) by DotAsia, ,demonstrating strong dominance over Entrepreneurship Mobility, with high scoring in education mobility, migrant mobility, goods and services etc.
A biological toxic detection by fish embryos
During their undergraduate study in City University of Hong Kong in Engineering, he and his schoolmates were collaborating for a business plan competition and they identified the work on transgenic fish technology by Professor Cheng Shuk Han and PhD fellow Chen Xueping. After winning win the competition, Chen incorporated his company in 2010 with the support of CityU for the licensing of the transgenic fish technology.
Unlike conventional chemical testing methods, Vitargent’s biological testing technology enables screening of “cocktail effect” caused by mixing over 1,000 toxicants and chemicals within 48 hours. Given that zebrafish has analogues of 84% of genes that associate with human diseases and substances that are toxic to zebrafish embryos are likely to be toxic to human.
Meanwhile, he earned his Master of Economics at the University of Hong Kong and established Vitargent in 2011, with a big mission to build an innovative and efficient platform to test and certify the safety of food, drink and cosmetics. In 5 years, he successfully assembled an international management team, raised rounds of VCs funding and signed up with the world’s largest cosmetics groups, F&B conglomerates, leading testing labs and government departments. He has been recognised as the First Ever Forbes Asia “30 under 30” Winner (2016), HSBC Young Entrepreneur Awards (Asia) winner (2011) and a Hong Kong Jockey Club Scholar (2007).
How does “Test-it” work?
The products for tested will be categorized as “green fish”, “yellow fish” or “red fish” to help consumers ascertain product safety. Green fish rating means consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase. Test-it™ even benchmarks against international safety standards of the Codex Alimentarius and European Union (EU) , as well as national safety standards of the United States of America , China and Japan
“We prefer to a bottom-up approach so let’s start with consumers. Especially in China, we would directly connect with consumers by offering them free sample products. As long as consumers start caring about food safety, those brands & corporates would follow and endorse the food safety standard in production chain.” Chen explained.
His ultimate goal – To introduce biotechnology to consumer market
“We want to be ‘Amazon’ in the food testing field,” says Chen. In 2017, Vitargent launched an online platform “Test-it”, which provides scientifically-verified information about the products tested, so that consumers can search for easy-to-read reports on the product safety before they make purchasing decisions. So far they have around 300,000 active users in a year, with 90 percent of them from Mainland China. Their service covers industries including food, beverages, cosmetics and water in a broader scale in future. And ultimately, his ultimate goal, the regulatory standards in the market will be enhanced.
For a detail report on Hong Kong’s Youth Mobility performance, visit https://www.dot.asia/ymi-2018-hong-kong/
For the full report on Youth Mobility Index, visit http://ymi.asia.
Photo Credit: Vitargent