Edith Lu and Sun Feier
Innovation and technology is seen as a key development area for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, while Hong Kong will continue to play its vital role as the “super connector” in various sectors, experts in different fields said on Monday. They made the call in a panel discussion themed “Exploring Innovation and Technology Intra-Regional Cooperation in the Greater Bay Area” at the China Daily Belt and Road Conference in Hong Kong. Not many city clusters in the world have the economic power that the Greater Bay Area has, former Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Ceajer Chan Ka-keung noted. He said three important cities in the area – Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou – make it an important supply chain, providing goods and services to the rest of the world. And Hong Kong is connecting the area to the world. Lenovo Senior Vice President and Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group President George He recommended that Hong Kong attract more global high-tech companies to establish headquarters in the city. Arnold Cheng, director of Hong Kong & Pearl River Delta at John Swire & Sons (China) Limited, said three factors should be eyed when developing innovation. One is to integrate the whole Greater Bay Area into a single market, second is to enhance the region’s competitiveness by more collaboration among cities, and third is to serve the national development and also the Belt and Road countries. He believed companies like Swire Group could benefit from the area as it allows them to have better exposure to the region’s frontier technology and innovation. E Zhihuan, chief economist at Bank of China Hong Kong, agreed that the future development of the area will not only create shining opportunities, but challenges for related parties. She introduced a formula of opportunities throughout the Greater Bay Area, saying “nine cities in Guangdong province plus Hong Kong and Macao equals manufacturing center plus technological innovation center plus financial service hub plus leisure and entertainment”. Based on this diversified pattern, the region calls for more advanced financial infrastructure, a more mature financial regulation and industry rulemaking system, and more application of disruptive technologies into economic growth, she said. Chen Guanghan, a professor at Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, urged more Hong Kong finance capital into the region rather than overseas. In addition, young-leader incubation is also a focus. Doris Luey Si-si, head of social innovation at Hong Kong-based New World Development Company, said the company has hosted a summer camp for secondary students in the area, helping them broaden horizons and encouraging them to create, as they are the future of the area. Professional talent foster programs are also being promoted in universities. Wong Kam-fai, associate dean of the engineering faculty at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the university has been collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Sciences for more than 10 years. They established an institute in Shenzhen first and then set up an on-campus joint laboratory in Hong Kong. He spoke highly of this kind of academic cooperation as it serves as the cradle for innovation and talent for the Greater Bay Area.