Date
22 October 2018
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the additional funding will be used to expedite re-industrialization, promote research and development in universities, revamp e-Government services, and encourage innovation in society. Photo: HKEJ
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the additional funding will be used to expedite re-industrialization, promote research and development in universities, revamp e-Government services, and encourage innovation in society. Photo: HKEJ

Lam adds HK$28 billion to innovation and technology funding

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said her administration will allocate HK$28 billion to further promote innovation and technology (I&T) in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The money will be used to expedite re-industrialization, promote research and development in universities, tap into the latest innovation and technology to revamp e-Government services, and encourage innovation in society, Lam said in her second policy address on Wednesday.

She said the amount is in addition to the HK$50 billion announced by Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po in February to support I&T development in key areas such as biotechnology, artificial intelligence, smart city and financial technology.

Under Lam’s latest proposals, HK$2 billion will be used to launch a Re-industrialization Funding Scheme to subsidize manufacturers, with the government matching their investment, to set up smart production lines and encourage industries to engage in high-end production through the application of smart technologies and production processes.

A source said there is no strict definition for smart production as long as manufacturers adopt technologies involving the use of internet or robots.

The Innovation and Technology Bureau will work out the operational details of the scheme, including eligibility criteria and approval mechanism.

The Precision Manufacturing Center set up by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) at the Tai Po Industrial Estate and the Advanced Manufacturing Center to be built at the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate will provide industries with facilities for smart production.

Based on documents submitted to the Legislative Council, the Advanced Manufacturing Center will be 10 times bigger than the existing Precision Manufacturing Centre and is expected to be completed by 2022. It is estimated to cost over HK$6 billion, a source said.

Another HK$2 billion will also be given to HKSTPC to identify suitable land in industrial estates for the establishment of manufacturing facilities for the advanced manufacturing sector.

In addition, HK$20 billion will be injected into the Research Endowment Fund of the Research Grants Council under the University Grants Committee for a more stable research funding to help attract and retain talent.

Not including the new allocation, the fund has already received HK$26 billion since it was established in 2009.

To help promote technology transfer and R&D, funding for three relevant schemes under the I&T Fund will be doubled.

The maximum annual funding for the Technology Transfer Office of each university will be increased fto HK$8 million from HK$4 million at present; the maximum annual funding for each participating university under the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities will also be increased to HK$8 million from HK$4 million; and the annual funding for each State Key Laboratory and Hong Kong branch of the Chinese National Engineering Research Center will be increased to HK$10 million from HK$5 million to support scientific research and commercialization of outputs.

Commenting on the latest measures announced by the chief executive, Dr. Winnie Tang Shuk-ming, an honorary professor of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), said the additional resources unveiled this year were less than those seen in 2017.

She said the government apparently has no long-term vision for I&T development, adding that it has even failed to come up with a slogan for the program.

Tang said the government should focus on building a great talent pool since Hong Kong lacks natural resources and can only depend on talent for economic development.

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TL/JC/CG

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