Published: 00:21, November 21, 2023 | Updated: 09:56, November 21, 2023
Hong Kong takes first steps toward global leadership in innotech
By Ken Ip

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-Chiu’s 2023 Policy Address is laser-focused on transforming Hong Kong into an international innovation and technology (I&T) center. With a comprehensive strategy that encompasses open data, emerging technologies, talent attraction and mainland cooperation, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government aims to position the city as a global leader in innovation. By implementing a range of initiatives, the city is poised to unlock its potential and create a thriving ecosystem for the future.

A key pillar of the government’s plan is the promotion of open, transparent and interoperable data. Recognizing the transformative power of data, policies on data governance and IT development will be enacted to facilitate data sharing and collaboration among various sectors. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, Hong Kong aims to capitalize on the vast potential of data-driven solutions and unlock new avenues for growth and development.

To further bolster its ambition, the government will proactively attract talent and investment to the city. Measures such as streamlining compliance for data flows from the mainland, implementing an investor entry program for those who have invested HK$30 million ($3.85 million) or more in Hong Kong, and deepening cooperation with the mainland demonstrate Hong Kong’s commitment to creating a favorable environment for businesses to thrive. These initiatives will not only attract high-value investors but also foster collaboration and knowledge exchange, strengthening Hong Kong’s position as a regional innovation hub.

In order to cultivate a culture of innovation, the government plans to expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs at universities, provide research grants to retain promising local and foreign scholars and scientists, and sponsor and assist graduate startups and commercialization. By nurturing a vibrant ecosystem that supports research and development (R&D), Hong Kong aims to incite top-notch I&T enterprises to set up shop in the city.

Recognizing the need to bridge the gap between academia and industry, the government will fund industry R&D initiatives and integrate automation into public services. These measures will not only enhance efficiency but also promote collaboration between the public and private sectors, paving the way for innovative solutions that address societal challenges.

In a bid to accelerate the growth of emerging industries, the government has allocated HK$10 billion to support eligible companies in building production facilities in Hong Kong. The New Industrialization Acceleration Scheme will target sectors such as life and health technologies, AI, data science, advanced manufacturing and new energy. By providing funding worth half the company’s investment, the program aims to attract investment and stimulate the growth of these critical industries.

 With its strategic vision and targeted initiatives, Hong Kong is on the path toward global leadership in I&T, shaping a bright future for the city and its residents

In the healthcare sector, the government will establish the Hong Kong Centre for Medical Products Regulation to promote the city’s development as a biomedical hub. The center will oversee the drug approval process, leading to the issuance of Hong Kong’s own registration certificates without relying on external regulatory authorities. By streamlining the approval process for pharmaceutical products targeting rare or severe diseases, Hong Kong aims to facilitate access to innovative treatments and contribute to the advancement of medical science.

In order to enhance its R&D capabilities, Hong Kong will establish an AI supercomputing center and the Microelectronics Research and Development Institute. The AI supercomputing center, located in Cyberport, will support local demand for computing power, fostering R&D initiatives. The Microelectronics Research and Development Institute at Yuen Long InnoPark will foster collaboration between academia, research centers, and industry players, positioning Hong Kong at the forefront of third-generation semiconductor core technology.

Hong Kong’s ambitious plan to become an international I&T hub is a testament to its commitment to embrace the opportunities of the digital age. By fostering a supportive ecosystem, attracting top talents, and leveraging emerging technologies, the city is poised to unlock its full potential and create a prosperous future. Through strategic investments and forward-thinking policies, Hong Kong can position itself as a global leader in I&T driving economic growth and improving the lives of its residents for years to come.

The new Policy Address outlines a comprehensive road map for Hong Kong’s transformation into an international I&T hub. By prioritizing open data, emerging technologies, talent acquisition and mainland cooperation, the government is paving the way for a prosperous future. Hong Kong’s commitment to fostering innovation, attracting investment and collaborating with key stakeholders will enable the city to unlock its full potential and become a leading global player in the I&T sector. With its strategic vision and targeted initiatives, Hong Kong is on the path toward global leadership in I&T, shaping a bright future for the city and its residents.

The author is chairman of the Asia MarTech Society and sits on the advisory boards of several professional organizations, including two universities.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.