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Monday, March 11, 2019, 23:52
Scientist: Bay Area sci-tech bond capable of global achievements
By He Shusi
Monday, March 11, 2019, 23:52 By He Shusi

Nancy Ip Yuk-yu, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, talks to China Daily in Beijing on March 9. She thought the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is capable of world-leading scientific breakthroughs. (HE SHUSI / CHINA DAILY)

BEIJING - China is on the right path to making international scientific breakthroughs, with closer cooperation between Hong Kong and the mainland following the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area blueprint, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nancy Ip Yuk-yu, said.

Ip, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature, said scientists in Hong Kong and other Bay Area cities on the mainland should seek out projects to cooperate on. They should also make full use of the region’s scientific resources and mature industrial ecosystem, she added.

One of the key performance indicators to assess whether the Bay Area development is successful is to see whether quality talents are willing to work and stay in the region. This is what an international I&T hub should be like

Nancy Ip Yuk-yu

a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences 

A neuroscientist and vice-president for research and development at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Ip is promoting the university’s research in healthy aging. This is a new interdisciplinary research subject, which studies how to keep the elderly healthy with proper disease prevention and a quality lifestyle.

In the face of a growing aging population, many countries, including China, attach great importance to studying aging societies. But such research in China is at an early stage and not focused, Ip said.

Talking to China Daily during the annual two sessions in Beijing, Ip believes the country is encouraging cross-boundary cooperation in the Bay Area. This means Hong Kong can use its edge in basic research and take a lead in research subjects such as healthy aging.

An abundant pool of talents, funds, bio-samples, equipment and mature industrial ecosystem in Guangdong will facilitate research and also commercial applications, Ip said.

On Feb 18, the central government released the 50-page development outline for the Bay Area, with a separate chapter on the region’s vision to a world-class innovation and technology center status.

According to the outline, the central government will formulate a specialized plan for easier cross-boundary transmission of medical data and bio-samples such as blood samples.The government will also enable Hong Kong and Macao research institutes in Guangdong to enjoy equal rights with other mainland institutes, including various national and Guangdong provincial policies and funds.

READ MORE: Greater Bay Area looks to foster innovation, tech hub 

It currently takes months for Hong Kong hospitals to provide a few hundred of such samples. But with a much larger population, the same number can be provided by mainland hospitals right away, explained Ip.

However, it could be time-consuming to apply for a cross-boundary use of mainland bio-samples, she noted.

“So easier boundary-crossing procedures for bio-samples will largely facilitate our research,” Ip said.

Calling the outline “an important first step”, Ip has been promoting the implementation of key details of relevant policies.

For instance, even though the country has allowed the cross-boundary use of national funds, issues like how the money should be managed and audited are to be settled.

“I hope these policies can be well implemented to facilitate easier flow of supporting supplies for scientific research across the boundary …so researchers can spend more time on research itself, and less on administrative procedures,” Ip said.

More tax breaks and easier boundary-crossing arrangements for talents are also essential, she added.

Ip believes that with the Bay Area’s international ties and strong research and development capability, the 11-city cluster will attract more leading scientists and universities and enterprises around the world. This will help to boost innovation and technology development.

“One of the key performance indicators to assess whether the Bay Area development is successful is to see whether quality talents are willing to work and stay in the region,” Ip said. “This is what an international I&T hub should be like.”

ALSO READ: Timeline: Xi and Guangdong-HK-Macao Greater Bay Area

Ip revealed that the HKUST’s new campus in Guangzhou will start enrolling postgraduate students soon — with construction to be completed as early as 2021.

It will be focused on interdisciplinary subjects to fully utilize the industrial system in Guangdong and facilitate the industrialization of scientific research in the Bay Area.

heshusi@chinadailyhk.com

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