It also reveals that three-quarters of science and engineering SMEs in the UK are confident for business growth in Asia and over half in Europe, while 47% state that the Brexit debate has made the prospect of trading with Hong Kong or China more attractive.

Attractions that were listed by science and engineering SMEs included the belief that it is easier to set up as a foreign business in Hong Kong and there are low tax rates. Additional assets identified included Hong Kong’s good levels of English, long standing political relationship with the UK and its proximity to China.

The biggest opportunities that businesses recognise for launching into the Chinese mainland is its huge consumer base, growing middle class and ability to be early adopters of technology. However, the research suggests that science and engineering SMEs are underestimating what a well-established route launching into Hong Kong is.

Explains HKTDC regional director of Europe William Chui: “It’s great to see that UK science and engineering SMEs are identifying the benefits of launching into Hong Kong as part of their global growth strategy at this time of European uncertainty. And, that they are valuing Hong Kong as a hugely well positioned launch pad for businesses wanting to ‘crack’ the lucrative but notoriously challenging to penetrate Chinese mainland market. What I think a lot of UK science and engineering SMEs are failing to realise however, is how many UK businesses of their size are making a real success of launching into Hong Kong.”

The Think Asia, Think Hong Kong event takes place in London on 21 September.