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HK gov opens tech funding scheme

The HKSAR Government recently announced that the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) is inviting applications for the 2019 Guangdong-Hong Kong Technology Cooperation Funding Scheme (the Scheme) from 29 July until 13 September 2019.

Launched in 2004, the Scheme provides funding to applied research and development projects in Guangdong and Hong Kong to enhance collaboration between the universities, research institutes and technology enterprises of the two places, and to upgrade the technological level of the industry in the Greater Pearl River Delta region. The Shenzhen Municipal Government joined the Scheme in the following year.

There are three categories of projects under the Scheme. The first category is funded by the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) of Hong Kong and is open to Hong Kong institutions. The second category is funded by Mainland authorities and is open to Mainland institutions. The third category is jointly funded by Guangdong and Hong Kong authorities or Shenzhen and Hong Kong authorities. Hong Kong and Mainland institutions can submit applications to the ITC and Mainland authorities respectively.

A spokesman for the ITC stated that there are 33 and 32 technology areas under the first and third categories respectively this year. The areas are relevant to the needs of the industry and will enhance economic development in the Greater Pearl River Delta region.

Hong Kong has been working to increase its collaboration for many years.

In February 2019, OpenGov Asia reported that Hong Kong’s reputation as a FinTech hub relies on its integration from the GBA.

Citing a survey, the report notes that while Hong Kong is going into hyperdrive to establish itself as a hub of Fintech innovation, the city’s reputation for being a significant hub for innovation in financial tech is now almost inseparably linked to its successful integration with the Greater Bay Area (GBA) initiative.

The aim of the GBA scheme is to create an integrated economic and business hub by linking the cities of Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing. The initiative is spearheaded by the Chinese government.

Most respondents agreed that greater regulatory reciprocity or alignment will be needed to ensure that the 9+2 cities of the GBA can work together in an integrated and productive way.

Furthermore, a vast majority of the respondents are certain that Hong Kong’s ongoing competitiveness as a global FinTech hub may depend on the scale of GBA access that it can provide.

More recently, in October 2018, Hong Kong reportedly announced that it would be setting up its research endowment fund to the tune of HK$20 billion. This amount will be invested in boosting innovation as it steps up research collaborations with the Chinese mainland and with other countries.

The sum is in addition to HK$50 billion announced in February 2019 to support innovation and technology development in key areas such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, smart city technology and financial technology, in particular for research clusters in collaboration with mainland Chinese institutions.

The funds will be used on re-industrialisation projects to improve production through smart technologies and robotics and to promote research and development in universities that would fuel the upgrading of industries in Hong Kong and the neighbouring Pearl River Delta in China as part of Beijing’s ‘Made in China 2025’ project.

It has been noted that the GBA and FinTech will need more initiatives like this if the GBA is to take off. However, the increasing sophistication of FinTech solutions should make that feasible.

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