Tech innovation: Why it's important for both China and HK

March 15, 2016 18:00
Hong Kong needs to step up efforts to lure more high-tech talent to facilities like the Science Park. Photo: HKEJ

Technology innovation is a crucial step if China wants to achieve its goal of economic transformation.

But when it comes to actual results on the ground, we see an aggregation of innovation industries only in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

In other Chinese cities, we can't find any noticeable outcome.

Shenzhen is doing relatively well. The city's Qianhai and Nanshan technology parks have gathered creative strength and will help fuel the growth and industrial upgrade of the city.

The southern Chinese city is showing the way for the rest of the country.

China's economy has been held back by the nation's traditional growth model.

The problem China faces is this: its high-end technology businesses are still in an immature stage while its low-end manufacturing industry has been buffeted by falling competitiveness.

Apart from the mainland, Hong Kong should also think about role of technology innovation in relation to the city's future.

Besides transforming traditional manufacturers into smart players and promoting robotics, Hong Kong may also consider other alternatives -- for example, utilizing big data and cloud computing to analyze clients’ needs, marketing efforts, capital costs, risk management, etc.

Companies should devote more resources to big data initiatives and support innovation in the future.

Hong Kong is well placed to do this.

As high home prices have been hindering research and development (R&D) talents from moving to the city, authorities should find a way to lower the housing and other living costs here.

It should consider providing dorms with cheap rents for young technicians and engineers, in places such as Sha Tin or near the Hong Kong Science Park, to attract high-tech talent.

In addition, the city must persuade some mainland research institutions and companies to relocate their R&D departments to Hong Kong.

Entities moving here can make use of Hong Kong's refined intellectual property rules. That would make it easier for them to connect and cooperate with international organizations.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 15.

Translation by Myssie You

[Chinese version 中文版]

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adjunct professor in the Department of Finance at HKUST Business School