The I&T Development in Hong Kong
Innovation and technology (I&T) are key drivers which foster economic innovation, accelerate the speed of development and expand development capacity. They are the determining factors of the future rise and fall of economies across the world. Where the global growth momentum has slowed down, I&T have become an important engine of economic development. They boost productivity and create quality employment opportunities to allow the society to continue to prosper and move forward. However, how to enable I&T businesses to be more vibrant, innovative and energetic is an issue worth much contemplation.
If there is a golden formula for successful I&T stories, one indispensable factor would be the possession of a child’s curiosity, a young person's pursuit of his or her dreams, an adult's sophistication and resilience, and the wisdom of an elderly. Through exploration and interaction; looking for the truth with experimentation; and providing solutions and tackling problems for the development of the society, we should aim at making imperishable contributions to the well-being and continuous advancement of humankind. An I&T story as such would be heartening and moving. It would become a powerful impetus of growth that sustains economic development.
Innovation and Technology Empower Our Dreams
In recent years, our schools and tertiary institutes have attached great importance to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and inspired a passionate I&T atmosphere. To enable our young people to explore and participate in the development of I&T at various stages, we have increased I&T subsidies for primary and secondary schools. We have also provided research funds and resources for universities to upgrade their laboratory equipment, as well as scholarships and internships for university students to engage in the I&T industry. Meanwhile, schemes including the Technology Talent Admission Scheme, the Global STEM Professorship Scheme, etc. have also helped to attract a pool of I&T talents from both the Mainland and overseas.
Steered by the HKSAR Government and with the collaboration of stakeholders, post-secondary education institutes are running various STEM programmes to nurture the talents needed for the future development of I&T. The number of graduates from STEM-related programmes have been on the rise in recent years. From the 2022/23 academic year onwards, the eight universities have introduced new programmes on aspects such as "intelligent manufacturing engineering" and "data analytics in science"; they have also introduced inter-disciplinary programmes combining STEM and different disciplines such as "humanities and digital technologies", "arts and technology" and "biotechnology, entrepreneurship and healthcare management" so as to broaden students' scope and at the same time strengthen Hong Kong's talent pool in various aspects.
To showcase and promote Hong Kong's I&T achievements to members of the public, the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) has been organising the InnoCarnival since 2008. Organisations and stakeholders from various sectors will showcase their local I&T inventions and research achievements. This has become a popular annual event for the whole community, including families and kids.
InnoCarnival 2022 will be held from the coming Saturday (October 22) at the Hong Kong Science Park for nine consecutive days up to October 30 with the theme of "Innovation & Technology Empower our Dreams". This year's carnival is supported by 54 partners, including universities, research and development centres, government departments and organisations, which will each showcase the fruits of scientific research, innovative applications, or transformation of R&D outcomes. In addition to about 40 webinars hosted by experts and scholars, there will be more than 100 online I&T workshops with different topics, such as Metaverse workshop, glider model making workshops, Artificial Intelligence game design workshops, etc. for the participation of families. As this year marks the 30th anniversary of the National Manned Space Programme and the country has launched the recruitment of the fourth batch of astronauts, including the recruitment of Payload Specialists in Hong Kong for the first time, there will be a designated space exhibition zone in the carnival to enhance the public's knowledge of Hong Kong's contribution to national space development.
It is worth noting that the "City I&T Grand Challenge: The Showcase" will also be staged during the carnival. The Grand Challenge aims to encourage the public to develop I&T solutions to help solve problems encountered in their daily life and drive the future development of Hong Kong together. Winners in the university/tertiary institute and open groups last year have received funding support from the ITC. After receiving training and refinement of I&T solutions for over half a year, teams have successfully transformed ideas from the competition into prototypes. At the Showcase, prototypes will be revealed to the public for the first time through real-life scenarios, including an elderly home and restaurant. This kind of competition helps different sectors of the community to have wider participation in I&T endeavours and enable the public to experience the material changes in their daily life brought about by I&T, thus facilitating the building of the I&T atmosphere in the society. Another flagship event which immediately follows the carnival will be the Hong Kong FinTech Week commencing at the end of October.
Pushing Boundaries, Reaping Benefits
The National 14th Five-Year Plan positions Hong Kong as an international financial centre, and supports our development as an international innovation and technology hub. Fintech is fast developing in Hong Kong and has grown into a vibrant ecosystem. Today we are home to more than 600 Fintech companies, one-third of them from overseas. These firms offer different kinds of financial services, such as mobile payment, cross-boundary transfer, intelligent financial consultancy, wealth management, regtech, virtual assets trading, etc. Fintech enables innovative business modes which provide more personalised financial services that are safe and convenient, enhancing the competitiveness of the financial industry and offering better customer experience.
The annual Hong Kong FinTech Week (HKFW) will take place from October 31 to November 4. Themed "Pushing Boundaries, Reaping Benefits", the event has attracted many guests and exhibitors, including more than 500 local, Mainland and overseas institutions, and over 200 speakers from the Mainland as well as Europe and Asian countries who will participate either in person or virtually. Exciting new elements will also be featured at this year's conference reflecting the rise of Web3 and metaverse technologies. Attendees will receive a limited-edition proof of attendance protocol (POAP) token issued as an non-fungible token (NFT), on a first-come, first-served basis, giving holders exclusive access or early registrations to upcoming industry events and special discounts for next year's HKFW tickets. The POAP token will also allow holders to create their own augmented reality avatar with 3D scanning devices at the event, providing a new experience for the guests.
In this year's HKFW, the HKSAR Government will issue a policy statement on the development of virtual assets in HK. It will cover a number of key topics including our vision and approach, regulatory regimes, thoughts on investors' exposures to virtual assets, and our pilot projects to embrace the technological benefits and financial innovations brought by virtual assets. The policy statement will make our policy stance on virtual assets clear to the global markets. It will also demonstrate our commitment and determination to explore financial innovations together with the global virtual assets community.
I&T Stories Fly with Accelerated Speed
Hong Kong has a solid foundation in basic scientific research at university level. We have five world top-100 universities, two world top-40 medicine schools and a great number of world renowned experts and quality research talents with international collaboration experiences in different fields. 16 key state laboratories, six Hong Kong Branches of Chinese National Engineering Research Centres and 22 Joint Laboratories with the Chinese Academy of Sciences have been established in Hong Kong so far, demonstrating national and international recognition of our scientific research capabilities.
With the strong support of our country, Hong Kong has gathered strengths by investing more than $150 billion over the past five years in promoting scientific research, fostering talents and developing infrastructure to support I&T development, including an injection of $10 billion to establish the InnoHK Clusters to promote global research collaboration. InnoHK has so far attracted more than 30 top universities and research institutions from the Mainland and overseas to work with their local counterparts. Meanwhile, over more than 20 years since its establishment, the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) has fostered an impressive number of research talents, start-ups and the commercialisation of R&D outcomes, which have attracted a considerable amount of private investment. The annual expenditure of the ITF has increased from over $700 million in 2013-14 to about $4,000 million in 2021-22. A number of schemes are available under the fund to sponsor universities and private companies to conduct application research, in order to promote scientific research and the commercialisation of R&D outcomes. For the past five years, a total subsidy amounting to $5.8 billion has been provided to research institutions and companies to support local research and development. Also, we have provided subsidies to six universities to help with commercialisation of their R&D outcomes through the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities. These are examples showing how we have been working to accelerate the promotion of I&T development in Hong Kong through the active collaboration among the government, industry, and academic and research sectors.
Overall, Hong Kong has made good achievements in basic research, fostering of talents, development of I&T industry and I&T application. The general I&T environment and atmosphere are transforming in a very positive manner and our work is bearing fruit. Nevertheless, there are areas in our I&T development that should be strengthened and reinforced from a forward-looking perspective. We have to put I&T development in a more prominent position to bring its supporting and leading roles into full play. The HKSAR Government is now formulating the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Development Blueprint for the next five to ten years, which aims at laying out a clear direction of development and objective so as to better coordinate the relevant supporting policies.
Just as technology development may come with a challenging process, stories of success may also have bumpy paths. Hong Kong’s I&T story has begun its phase of acceleration, and we are turning over the page to strive for flying development. We are highly motivated and passionate about this new chapter, and are fully prepared for it. Indeed, I&T will further strengthen the impetus of growth of Hong Kong, and allow us to explore new economic growth points and make greater contributions to great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
October 16, 2022