22 October 2019
Nicholas Yang (left) should publicly set objective targets for the new bureau, which has the backing of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Photo: HKEJ
Nicholas Yang (left) should publicly set objective targets for the new bureau, which has the backing of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Photo: HKEJ

InnoTech Bureau needs key performance indicators

The Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Bureau has finally been set up.

Its first head, Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung, has released nine key areas on which it will concentrate its efforts.

It’s an important and smart response to the lawmakers who opposed the establishment of the bureau.

I always thought some of its opponents’ arguments were unrealistic.

The development of innovative technologies in Hong Kong has lagged behind that in the other “Asian Dragons” and big mainland cities for years.

Not a second further can be wasted.

What Yang mentioned in his plan are the chief issues in the industry.

It means he has put plenty of effort into thinking about it before he was appointed.

If his plan is fully implemented, Hong Kong will immediately see the benefits.

But I believe the bureau should take one step further and draw a medium- to long-term blueprint for the development of technology in Hong Kong.

I suggest that the blueprint focus on three targets: (1) sustainable economic development; (2) improving the quality of life of citizens; and (3) improving service efficiency.

Yang’s plan has covered items (1) and (2).

However, it should consider setting progressive key performance indicators (KPIs).

These could guide the government’s work for the next three to five years and also allow the public to measure objectively the performance of the bureau.

Taking other international cities as a reference, common KPIs related to technology and innovation are: the innovation and technology industries’ contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP), the ratio of government’s corresponding investment to the GDP, the average number of researchers among every 1,000 working people, and the total number of patents and intellectual properties owned by domestic entities in overseas markets.

Yang talked less about item (3).

The present arrangement is mainly focused on domestic administrative development — such as, combining the power of lawmakers, government departments and private entities to discuss methods of building a smart city.

In the perspective of economic development, the government must “go out” to build tight cooperation with the central government and other countries.

I suggest that the bureau launch Hong Kong’s first five-year plan next year to echo the central government’s 13th five-year plan.

Hong Kong should actively participate in the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, using its “super-connector” position to link mainland cities with overseas markets.

The industry has high hopes for the bureau.

The public and Legislative Council members should give their full support to the development of the bureau and the industry so as to guarantee the sustainable development of Hong Kong.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 27.

Translation by Myssie You

[Chinese version中文版]

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Professor, Dept. of Systems Engineering & Engineering Management, CUHK