Technology and innovation are critical in driving economic growth. And the key to a successful technological environment lies in the transfer of research, ideas, and innovation into marketable and sustainable products. However, in Hong Kong, while our technology adoption is in general world-class, our efforts in research and development often lags behind.
Our Government does invest in R&D in the tertiary institutions and the research institutes set up under the Innovation and Technology Fund, and it will soon establish a HK$18 billion research fund to ensure a stable source of funding for university research. But our R&D percentage of GDP – at 0.7% -- falls way behind economies such as Finland (3.2%), Singapore (2.8%), U.S. (2.6%), or even China (1.5%). Yet even for those talented researchers we are able to train up in our universities, Hong Kong fails to provide them with viable R&D employment opportunities, hence making us a “selfless” training ground of top engineers for the U.S. or even Singapore, from IC design to software engineering.
To improve our technology and innovation performance, I will:
* Urge Government to provide additional tax incentives for private sector to conduct R&D activities locally and through the hiring of researchers, as a way to increase local employment opportunities for local talents with advanced degrees; * Monitor the establishment and the operation of the HK$18 billion research fund, to ensure more funding will be allocated for technology research, and that the vetting mechanism will be kept fair and efficient; * Propose the Government to conduct a full review of the operation of the five R&D Centers as well as the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), to ensure that they can operate more efficiently and cooperate more effectively with the industry, and that ASTRI may develop itself to play an intermediary role between research institutions in the Mainland and overseas; * Work with the industry and Government (e.g. InvestHK) to encourage ICT multinationals to set up “satellite R&D centers” in Hong Kong to collaborate with the Mainland research bases, so as to again create a more vibrant research environment and more R&D job opportunities in Hong Kong; * Call for the strengthening of organizational governance of Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC), Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP), Cyberport, ASTRI and the R&D Centers, including their management, finance and auditing arrangements, and streamline these operations or even merge them where appropriate, to ensure the most effective use of public resources. * Recommend that the support services – in technology, marketing and other support – provided by HKSTP and Cyberport be extended at equal terms to local ICT companies which are not tenants of these facilities, similar to Malaysia's “MSC Class” status.