Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation announced various new initiatives to facilitate knowledge transfers in the artificial intelligence and robotics industry. (JEROME FAVRE / BLOOMBERG NEWS)
The government will build up a strong ecosystem for innovation and technology when venture capital investment and the number of technology unicorns increases in Hong Kong, says Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung.
“Venture capital investment in Hong Kong-based technology startups last year reached HK$18.3 billion which is 13 times increase compared to 2014. In the last few years, the city also nurtures five technology unicorns, which was unheard of in the past,” the technology bureau chief told a Friday press conference. A unicorn is a privately held company which is valued at over $1 billion.
We hope to drive more Hong Kong-based AIR (artificial intelligence/robotics) innovations and develop Hong Kong into a regional AIR hub through expanding our infrastructure, providing extensive training and value-added services, as well as strengthening industry connections with strategic networks and talents
Albert Wong Hak-keung
HKSTP Chief Executive Officer
“There are over 9,500 jobs created in the innovation and technology sector last year compared to just over 2,300 jobs in 2014,” Yang added.
Besides funding injection as outlined by Budget 2019-20, two supporting measures will be particularly useful in fostering growth of a technology ecosystem in Hong Kong.
“Starting in April, we will introduce a pro-innovation government procurement policy so that procurement will no longer solely be determined by the contract price level. The government may procure products and services at a higher price level if the technology factor warrants the purchase,” Yang explained.
The other measure is provision of a two-tier enhanced tax deduction for eligible research and development expenditure of enterprises incurred after April 1, 2018.
Under this initiative, there will be 300 percent tax deduction for the first HK$2 million R&D expenditure and 200 percent for the remaining amount.
The technology chief said these two policy changes might stimulate more private investment in the innovation and technology sector. This will help push up R&D investment in the economy.
The government in 2017 pledged R&D expenditure could account for 1.5 percent of the SAR’s gross domestic product in the next five years. According to Yang, the ratio was 0.8 percent in 2017 whereas the bulk of this came from the public sector.
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) announced various new initiatives to facilitate knowledge transfers in the artificial intelligence and robotics industry.
For fostering AI application, HKSTP will launch AI Plug@HKSTP to expedite AI technology and AI adoption in various industries through training, technical support, business matching and infrastructure.
HKSTP will partner 10 local-based AI practitioners to introduce AI training courses targeted at company decision-makers. HKSTP hopes that when company management is more familiar with the AI and robotics technologies, they will be more willing to incorporate these two technologies in their business strategies. Besides management, courses will also be offered to students to cultivate their interest in AI.
Around 10 AI service providers from different technical aspects, such as sensing system, firmware design, software development, AI infrastructure design, IoT (internet of things) testing environment, will provide technical support to startups stationed in the Hong Kong Science Park to shorten their product development cycle. The duration will last for six months to one year.
The initiative will also include business matching services to drive technology adoption. Industries such as smart manufacturing, logistics, finance, platform and next generation, retail and e-commerce, construction as well as design can use the business matching program to find suitable investors.
HKSTP also teamed up about five major AI technology companies and they will offer their AI services to companies in the Hong Kong Science Park at a price discount. Thus, startups can enjoy AI R&D services at a lower initial capital investment.
Regarding robotics technology, HKSTP will expand the robotics catalyzing centre from the current space of 4,000 square feet to a total of 25,000 square feet. The new area will provide more laboratory facilities and equipment to support proof-of-concept testing, product development, prototyping and technology trials.
On Friday, HKSTP held its first AI-themed exhibition that showcased 70 companies specializing in AI and robotics technologies.
Currently, there are over 100 AI and robotics technology startups stationed in the Hong Kong Science Park. The total number of technology companies incubated at the Hong Kong Science Park is 700.
“We hope to drive more Hong Kong-based AIR (artificial intelligence/robotics) innovations and develop Hong Kong into a regional AIR hub through expanding our infrastructure, providing extensive training and value-added services, as well as strengthening industry connections with strategic networks and talents,” HKSTP Chief Executive Officer Albert Wong Hak-keung said.
HONG KONG NEWS