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Challenges and Developments within the Technology and Innovation Industry in Hong Kong

Recently Mr. Nicholas W Yang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology, HK SAR Government, was prompted to respond to a question raised in the Legislative Council about Hong Kong’s sluggish development of the innovation and technology sector.

Just a few years ago, Hong Kong SAR was well regarded as a champion in areas including mobility, connectivity, and fintech.

The same cannot be said today as Hong Kong SAR falls behind Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan with respect to policy support for innovation.

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a United States based think-tank, found Hong Kong SAR ranked 29th in a global study of how domestic policies have an impact on global innovation. However, the Government is investing in and working to motivate these industries to bring Hong Kong SAR back to the forefront.

Earlier this year, Chief Executive CY Leung revealed that the Government would put aside HKD$2 billion towards midstream and applied research in these areas. This research funding is to be allocated to institutions funded by the University Grants Committee.

An additional HKD$100 million will be set aside, annually, to support collaborative research between Hong Kong, 6 Hong Kong branches of the Chinese National Engineering Research Centres, and 16 Partner State Key Laboratories in Hong Kong.

At the same time, Hong Kong will be welcoming international universities through new research and innovation facilities from Karolinska Institute of Sweden and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"Hong Kong enjoys the advantages of 'one country' and 'two systems' in developing the innovation and technology industry. In addition to attracting top research and development institutions from around the world, we can more proactively seek co-operation opportunities with the Mainland at both national and local levels," said Chief Executive CY Leung.

Still, the HK SAR Government is being pressed to do more to promote these industries. It is reported that young entrepreneurs have spoken out against the restrictions set by local legislators, hindering their growth.

Secretary Yang was asked about how the Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB) will be working to promote innovative ideas, especially those in the fintech and sharing services areas.

“As one of the world's most important international financial centres, Hong Kong has immense potential to develop Fintech. Fintech development requires an ecosystem conducive to innovation,” said Secretary Yang.

The HK SAR Government set up a Steering Group on Fintech in 2015 to study the potential of Fintech. It evaluated measures required to develop Hong Kong into a hub for fintech by working with industry, research institutes, and the regulatory authorities.

“We will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to look into measures to promote the development of Fintech. The Government and regulatory authorities will strike a reasonable balance between regulation and promotion of Fintech development, and strive to enhance the competitiveness of the financial services industry,” stated Secretary Yang.

With respect to “sharing” services, Secretary Yang argued that these innovation and technology projects require a certain ecosystem supported by a variety of stakeholders involved.

“As these I&T projects often require adjustments of the existing ecosystems, involving a number of stakeholders … governments and regulatory authorities worldwide are still studying these complex matters and have yet to come up with a unified solution,” Secretary Yang exclaimed, “The relevant policy bureaux will make reference to the developments and experiences in other regions in handling these matters, taking into account the actual situation and needs of Hong Kong, and having regard to the interest and safety of the general public, and will consider the relevant measures at an appropriate time, so as to promote diversified economic development, and make people's living more comfortable, convenient and safe.”

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