Unleashing innovation potential for Bay Area push

Oswald Chan

Unleashing innovation potential for Bay Area push

HONG KONG - The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is working closely and proactively with relevant central government departments in taking forward new policies to unleash the innovation and technological potential for inter-regional cooperation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Speaking at the forum Belt and Road Conference: Tapping Belt and Road Opportunities in the Greater Bay Area organized by China Daily and the Silk Road Economic Development Research Center, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said “the aim is to develop the Bay Area into the Silicon Valley of China.”

“Leveraging on our advantage in scientific research, internationalization, our robust legal system, rule of law and our status as an international financial, business and logistics center, Hong Kong is in an excellent position to contribute to the national strategy of innovation-driven development, namely building the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area into an international innovation and technology hub,” Cheung said in his keynote address.

The Bay Area, comprising the nation’s two special administrative regions and nine mainland cities in the Pearl River Delta region, boasts a population of nearly 68 million and a gross domestic product of nearly US$1.4 trillion. It will be a key pillar for the Belt and Road Initiative as the Bay Area will be an innovation and technology hub.

“We have gathered to hear how Hong Kong can take full advantage of this increased opportunity,” said Zhou Li, editorial board member of China Daily Group and publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily Asia Pacific.

“We would like to be able to visualize the roadmap that must follow to play a pivotal role in the process of China’s reaching out to the world.”

Cheung said the government is committed to fostering innovation and technology development in eight areas, namely increasing resources for research and development, pulling the resources together, providing investment funding, providing technological research infrastructure, renewing exiting legislation/regulation, opening up government data, changes in government’s procurement policy, and strengthening popular science education.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, in her October Policy Address, announced the government will allocate HK$28 billion to expedite reindustrialization, promote research and development in universities, revamp e-government services and encourage innovation in society.

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

The Hong Kong Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in Lok Ma Chau Loop, when completed, will be the largest technology business park in Hong Kong with an area of 87 hectares and is expected to boost the area's global position in technology and provide an incubator for technology startups. The administration has earmarked HK$20 billion for the first-phase development.

Besides infrastructure, Cheung reckoned that talent is also an essential piece of the jigsaw puzzle of innovation and technology development. The government has launched the three-year pilot Technology Talent Admission Scheme which provides a fast-track arrangement for eligible technology companies and institutes to admit overseas and mainland technology talent to undertake research and development work in biotechnology, AI, cyber security and robotics.

“The Belt and Road Initiative has made a tremendous impact on all participating countries, not just transforming the economies along the BRI, but it also contributed a shift in the lifestyle of many countries,” said Joseph Chan Nap-kee, chairman at Silk Road Economic Development Research Center. “With more influence of more infrastructure projects, we are thrilled for even more progressive changes of BRI.”