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HKPC Launches FoodTech Lab

Image Credits: HKPC, Press Release

The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) is working to promote the innovation and advancement of food technology (FoodTech) to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the industry. To this end, it launched a Future FoodTech Lab to showcase world-leading novel food processing technologies with some being winners of international research awards.

The Commissioner for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government, and the Chairman of HKPC, officiated the opening. Food industry leaders were also invited to share their insights on FoodTech development at the opening ceremony to encourage fellow industry peers to engage in advanced manufacturing and promote reindustrialisation in Hong Kong.

HKPC’s Future FoodTech Lab is Hong Kong’s first-ever FoodTech prototype display platform. Showcasing advanced FoodTech at different stages of the food supply chain, Future FoodTech Lab provides a platform for site visits and technology testing for the industry.

The technologies at the lab will be updated regularly to keep the food industry abreast of the latest technology development. At present, the lab displays HKPC-developed food processing technologies, including Pressure-Assisted Ultrasound Thawing Technology, High-Pressure Disinfection Technology, CAPfresh — A Game Changing Cold Atmospheric Plasma Disinfection Technology for Fresh Food, and Liquid Chilling Technology.

Image The new Future FoodTech Lab<br >Source HKPC Press Release

The Commissioner for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government noted that concerning technology support, HKPC provides a showcase platform for the industry to learn about new technologies in the food sector. In terms of funding, the Innovation and Technology Commission’s Re-industrialisation Funding Scheme (RFS) subsidises manufacturers, on a 1:2 (Government:Company) matching basis, to set up new smart production lines in Hong Kong. The funding for each project is capped at HK$15 million.

She added that RFS provides material assistance to local manufacturers, assisting them to move toward high-value-added production and upgrade to Industry 4.0. Industry players are encouraged to leverage the government’s support in technology, capital and infrastructure to upgrade and transform in the process of ‘re-industrialisation’ to achieve greater success.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of HKPC stated that establishing Future FoodTech Lab signifies an important milestone for food industry development. HKPC hopes it can encourage the food industry to embrace advanced manufacturing and promote reindustrialisation in Hong Kong.

A majority of the food processing technologies showcased are ‘first-in-Hong Kong’ or even ‘world-leading’. For instance, CAPfresh – A Game Changing Cold Atmospheric Plasma Disinfection Technology for Fresh Food was recognised at the 2022 R&D 100 Awards in the United States. This proves that Hong Kong’s R&D capabilities are of a world-class level.

The official added that HKPC will continue to meet the needs of the industry and provide appropriate support in the areas of technology, talent and capital, and promote the commercialisation of R&D results. In the long run, it will help the food industry to expand to the Greater Bay Area and overseas markets, thereby enabling the ‘Made in Hong Kong’ brand to shine on the international stage.

The Director of one of the companies at the Lab stated that the company hopes to expand its products to neighbouring cities and even overseas markets, but this has been limited by production capacity and shelf life. The intelligent production line, being set up with the assistance of HKPC, can effectively solve the above pain points.

In addition to significantly raising the production capacity, it also improves the sterilisation process. The sterilisation parameters such as temperature, pressure, time, etc. are collected and monitored by intelligent sensors, which not only prolong the life of the machine but also ensure the reliability and stability of sterilisation and improve product quality and safety. Without the use of additives and preservatives, it is expected that the shelf life can be extended effectively.

Then, the Managing Director of another manufacturer stated that the traditional production process of fresh egg liquid needs to be completed manually and cannot raise productivity effectively. With intelligent production, the production capacity can increase by 2 to 3 times. Concurrently, manpower, production time and human error will be reduced. Staff can also be re-assigned to handle high-tech work, reducing costs and raising efficiency. Intelligent production will also help diversify our business, expanding from B2B to B2C retail business.

Apart from technical support, HKPC also actively helps enterprises identify the appropriate government funding schemes to subsidise them to set up intelligent production lines locally. The above enterprise solutions have successfully applied or are currently applying for the Re-industrialisation Funding Scheme of the Innovation and Technology Commission of the HKSAR Government to help reduce production costs further and raise cost-effectiveness.

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