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HK government supports I&T development

The Secretary for Innovation & Technology recently stated that the HKSAR government is supporting the innovation and technology industry, which has been affected by various social events of which one is the COVID-19 epidemic.

Replying to lawmakers’ questions in the Legislative Council today, the Secretary stated that some companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or start-ups, have to put their business expansion on hold due to uncertainties arising from social events and the external economic and trade environment.

The epidemic has also affected the outbound exchanges of academia and technology companies.

To support the industry, the Government has set aside $380 million under the Anti-epidemic Fund to provide a six-month rental waiver for tenants and start-ups in the Science Park, industrial estates and Cyberport. It is estimated that this will benefit about 1,800 enterprises.

The Government has also launched the Distance Business Programme to provide funding to enterprises to adopt information technology (IT) solutions for developing distance business.

The programme secretariat has received 3,834 applications to enrol on the IT Service Providers Reference List, as well as over 13,000 funding applications from enterprises so far.

At the same time, the Government has been proactively adopting local research and development outcomes to help combat the epidemic.

The Innovation & Technology Commission launched a special call for projects under the Public Sector Trial Scheme of the Innovation & Technology Fund to support product development and application of technologies for the prevention and control of the epidemic, as well as to foster the commercialisation of R&D results.

So far, 25 applications have been approved under the special call, involving a funding amount of about $42.8 million for trials in more than 40 public sector organisations.

In addition, the Government, industry, academia and research institutes are all determined to turn the crises into opportunities and respond to changes proactively and flexibly.

Another press release notes that the Community Care Fund Digital Television Assistance Programme has received more than 11,500 applications since its launch in January, of which about 10,000 households have had digital TV receivers successfully installed.

The Government launched the scheme to assist analogue TV households in need to obtain digital TV receivers so that they can continue to access local free TV programmes before digital TV broadcasting is fully implemented on 1 December.

According to the latest survey, by the first quarter of this year, over 90% of Hong Kong households switched to digital TV, while the number of households still using analogue TV dropped to about 3%.

With less than half a year to go before Hong Kong will enter the era of full digital TV broadcasting, the Government urges analogue TV households that are eligible for assistance to submit applications before the deadline of 15 July 2021.

Analogue TV households benefitting from specified social assistance programmes or are of low-income are not required to go through additional means-testing.

Eligible households can choose digital TV receivers according to family needs. They are a set-top box, 24-inch digital TV set or 32-inch digital TV set.

Application forms can be obtained from the 100 district service units that assist in implementing the programme and the Home Affairs Enquiry Centres in the 18 districts or downloaded from the programme website.

Completed forms should be submitted to the service units in person or by post. Within eight weeks after receipt of the application, the electrical appliances contractor will liaise with the applicant and arrange the delivery and installation of a digital TV receiver as well as disposal of the old analogue TV set.

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