Govt launches subsidy scheme to help firms lure tech talent

August 23, 2018 16:19
Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang said talent is a key factor in the global innovation and technology race. Photo: HKEJ/CNSA

The government has launched a five-year pilot scheme to lure talent as part of efforts to drive Hong Kong's innovation and technology development.

Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung said talent is a key factor in the global innovation and technology race and as such, the government has been taking a proactive approach to attracting and nurturing top-notch talents and building a critical talent pool, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The Technology Talent Scheme, which follows the Technology Talent Admission Scheme, will subsidize research institutions and enterprises to recruit talents to conduct research and development activities as well as train their existing staff to apply advanced technology to add value to their businesses, Yang said.

There are two initiatives under the scheme – the Postdoctoral Hub program and the Reindustrialization and Technology Training Program.

The Postdoctoral Hub program provides funding support to qualified recipients of the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) as well as incubatees and tenants of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited, allowing them to recruit up to two postdoctoral talents who will conduct research and development work for six months at the shortest and 24 months at the longest.

Qualified recipients must possess a doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related discipline from either a local university or a well-recognized non-local institution, i.e., one of the top 100 institutions in STEM-related subjects in world university rankings.

The ITF, set up by the government, will provide a monthly allowance of HK$32,000 for each recruited postdoctoral talent during their employment period.

The Reindustrialization and Technology Training Program, which is administered by the Vocational Training Council, will subsidize local companies, matching their contribution at a 2:1 ratio, to train their staff in advanced technologies, particularly in smart manufacturing, artificial intelligence and those related to Industry 4.0.

Trainees must be a Hong Kong permanent resident and employed by a non-government and non-subvented local enterprise. The maximum subsidy for a single company is HK$500,000 a year.

The Innovation and Technology Commission said HK$500 million was earmarked under the ITF, which was set up in accordance with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s policy address last year, to launch the Technology Talent Scheme.

Francis Fong Po-kiu, honorary chairman of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, said since the Postdoctoral Hub program only provides subsidy for two years, recruited talents may quit if they start receiving less income.

Fong also urged the government to step up efforts to promote technology research in order to attract large tech companies to Hong Kong in the medium to long term.

While welcoming the initiative, lawmaker Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said she hopes the Postdoctoral Hub program can also be open to companies outside the Hong Kong Science Park and Cyberport as soon as possible.

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