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Government Pledges to Help Spur I&T Growth in HK

The administration has pledged to strengthen and step up the implementation of various initiatives in the field of technology and innovation.

In her policy address on Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive stated that the Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS) will be expanded to cover companies outside the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks and Cyberport.

A government source also noted that the technology areas covered by the pilot scheme will also be increased to 13 from seven at present.

Currently, the areas covered are biotechnology, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, data analytics, financial technologies and material science.

The source said six more will be added, namely 5G communications, Internet of Things, integrated circuit design, microelectronics, digital entertainment and green technology.

While the approved quota for applications under the scheme has reached 291 as of September this year, the source expected it to increase by 100 over the next 12 months.

According to the policy address, funding for the Researcher Programme and the Postdoctoral Hub will also be expanded to cover not only technology firms but all companies in Hong Kong conducting research and development activities.

The new measure will be launched in the first quarter of 2020 with 1,000 posts, the government source added.

With regard to technology infrastructure, the source said the government will initiate a study for the second stage of the Hong Kong Science Park expansion program.

Since the rentable area in the park is nearly saturated, the government will hire consultants to study the feasibility of adding more floor areas or look for other sites outside the park for the expansion program, the source said.

The source also revealed that the Smart City Blueprint 2.0 will be released soon and will probably include a dozen new suggestions, such as building a smart prison.

Given public concerns about smart lamp posts, the source said the Multi-functional Smart Lampposts Technical Advisory Ad Hoc Committee and district councils are gathering opinions in this regard.

The government will also build a new “smart convenience” platform to provide one-stop personalized digital government services.

An eID system will be ready by mid-2020 and the “smart convenience” platform is likely to offer the first batch of personalized e-government services from the fourth quarter of next year.

The government will also inject HK$500 million into the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund to further promote social innovation, according to the policy address.

The source said the fund, established in 2013, is nearly depleted, and the new funding will focus on gerontechnology projects intended to cater to the needs of senior citizens.

More support for the tech ecosystem in Hong Kong

According to an earlier OpenGov Asia report, The Innovation & Technology Commission announced enhanced funding arrangements and a freeze of fees as part of the measures to support enterprises announced by the Financial Secretary in August 2019.

The commission will disburse partial funding in advance to projects funded by the Technology Voucher Programme, the Enterprise Support Scheme, the Patent Application Grant and the Re-industrialisation & Technology Training Programme under the Innovation & Technology Fund.

The arrangements will be rolled out in phases starting from the end of 2019.

The Standards & Calibration Laboratory, as well as the Hong Kong Accreditation Service under the commission, will also freeze fees for their calibration and accreditation services until the end of 2020.

The commission hopes the arrangements can ease funding problems that small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups face when carrying out projects and to help them control their operating costs.

This will assist them in coping with challenges brought by the current austere economic environment, it added.

Ultimately, the aim is to enhance Hong Kong’s technological capabilities as well as growing its digital economy thereby enabling Hong Kong to become Asia’s leading tech hub.

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