HK to boost I&T ecosystem

April 12, 2018

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

This is already the third edition of the Internet Economy Summit. The first summit was held in 2016, just a few months after an Innovation & Technology Bureau was created within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to provide dedicated leadership and co-ordinated effort in this area. Since then, the Government has made significant investments to boost innovation and technology. These included a total of $28 billion allocated under the last term of the HKSAR Government. It was a good start but given the speed of technological evolution, that is clearly not enough. And investment is only one, though an important one, measure to achieve our ultimate goal of fostering economic development and improving people’s daily lives through wider application of I&T. We must keep reinforcing and upgrading our capability as well as providing a conducive ecosystem for I&T development in Hong Kong.


This is the reason why this term of the Government, which started on July 1 last year, has come up with a more holistic approach to drive I&T in Hong Kong. In my maiden Policy Address last October, I outlined an eight-pronged strategy for Hong Kong to strengthen our competitiveness in the global I&T race, ranging from more resources for research and development and nurturing a talent pool to venture capital and popular science education. We have also highlighted four key technology areas namely healthcare technologies, artificial intelligence and robotics, smart city and fintech. I believe these can become new economic drivers for Hong Kong’s future development.


Our I&T efforts will be given a major boost in the context of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area on which a State Council-approved development plan will be promulgated soon. This economic blueprint for the nine cities in Guangdong and the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, with a population of 68 million and a combined GDP of US$1.5 trillion, will provide enormous opportunities. One of our targets is to develop an international I&T hub in the bay area and Hong Kong will play a key role in it. Together with the planned Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation & Technology Park at the Lok Ma Chau Loop, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and cities in the bay area can complement one another and create our version of Silicon Valley.


To realise our vision, we have put together a comprehensive package of long and medium-term initiatives as well as immediate support measures for relevant industries. I have set a goal to double Hong Kong’s R&D expenditure as a ratio to the Gross Domestic Product to 1.5% by 2022, or about $45 billion a year. To help achieve this, we will for the first time in Hong Kong provide super tax deduction of up to 300% for R&D expenditure incurred by enterprises.


On talent development, we are launching a $500 million Technology Talent Scheme, which includes the establishment of a Post-doctoral Hub and a dedicated Re-industrialisation & Technology Training Programme to subsidise local companies to train their staff in advanced technologies, especially in Industry 4.0. These will be rolled out by the third quarter of this year. Our goal is to encourage more young people to engage in R&D and technology entrepreneurship as a long-term, life-long career. We will have a separate programme for young people tomorrow. In addition, we will provide studentships for local students to pursue research postgraduate programmes in our publicly funded universities.


At the same time, we aim to attract the best talents from the Mainland and overseas to enrich Hong Kong’s ecosystem. In order to attract the world’s top scientific research institutions and technology enterprises to Hong Kong, we have earmarked $10 billion to support the establishment of two research clusters in Hong Kong: one on healthcare technologies and the other on artificial intelligence and robotics technologies. We aim to achieve a win-win result by attracting the best scientific and innovation brains from around the world to join forces with our local research talents.


I should point out that the above-mentioned $10 billion is just part of the $50 billion funding committed by the Financial Secretary in his Budget Speech delivered in February this year to support I&T development in Hong Kong. Other initiatives include allocating $7 billion to the Science Park to boost support for its tenants and set up a Smart Campus. Cyberport will also receive $200 million to enhance support for its startups.


In adopting new technology, the Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong published last December provides a clear roadmap for making use of technologies to drive economic growth and enhance the quality of living in our city. Pivotal to this no doubt is the application of information and communications technology, in particular big data analytics, cloud computing and Internet of Things to take advantage of the ever-increasingly connected Internet-driven economy. We will invest more than $900 million in the next few years to implement several smart city infrastructure projects, including the provision of e-ID to all residents, and launching a multifunction smart lamppost pilot scheme.


The success of all these programmes and initiatives requires strong leadership and sustained investment well into the future. Within the Government, the high-level Steering Committee on Innovation & Technology, which I personally chair, will provide the steer and co-ordination needed at the highest level to implement our I&T agenda. With the support of industries and the community at large as well as our partners in the Mainland and around the world, I look forward to sharing with you the results and achievements on different fronts at next year's Internet Economy Summit.


Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Internet Economy Summit 2018 on April 12.

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