Date
23 July 2018
Traffic data firm Citymapper’s biggest hurdle isn’t technology but access to live public transportation data in HK, proof that building more tech parks will not necessarily boost the sector. Photo: nmplus.hk
Traffic data firm Citymapper’s biggest hurdle isn’t technology but access to live public transportation data in HK, proof that building more tech parks will not necessarily boost the sector. Photo: nmplus.hk

Why Lok Ma Chau tech park is not what we need

The government signed a memorandum of understanding recently with the Shenzhen authorities to build a science and technology park on an 87-hectare site at the Lok Ma Chau Loop.

It’s not known what sort of tech companies will be invited to set up their offices in the park but according to a civilian think tank, it mainland tech companies will account for at least 40 percent of the tenants.

Such a way of attracting foreign investors by offering them attractive rental packages and tax benefits is reminiscent of what the government of Guangdong province did during the early 1980s.

Back then, provincial authorities took great pains to attract investors from Hong Kong and Taiwan to set up factories there in order to facilitate their economic development.

Thirty years later, we have swapped roles — Hong Kong is now the one eagerly seeking foreign investment in order to boost its economy.

My concern is, can this park really boost the development of our high-tech industry?

One striking example of the problems facing the tech sector is the electric car project known as MyCar, developed by the Polytechnic University a few years ago.

MyCar was a state-of-the-art creation with supposedly a lot of market potential.

After the team that developed the car was unable to find investors or get government support, the project was sold to an American company.

Sharing of big data is another bottleneck.

We have talked to traffic data firm Citymapper about its plan to develop an app based on real time traffic data so that Hongkongers can pick a most environmentally friendly commuting method but the biggest hurdle is access to data.

So, what we really need to boost our tech industry is not some fancy facilities and dazzling tech parks but a total change of government mindset and a drastic review of its policies on the tech industry.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 17

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

A member of Shadow Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee, a non-governmental organization.

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