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HKSTP on track in attracting top-notch tech talent

The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) is on track to achieve its goal of attracting the first batch of research institutes to the city in health care, artificial intelligence and robotics.

This is a part of a broader push by the city to build itself into a hub for innovation and technology, according to chief executive Albert Wong Hak-Keung.

The Park has vetted and is poised to award successful applicants in the next few weeks. It has also disbursed financial support to its tenants, revamped its incubation programme for start-ups and is getting approval to support promising companies with strong core technology with grants to help them with capital and operating expenditure, he said.

Currently, the biggest challenge is to help them come out; that is, they must look at how to commercialise their technology in two to three years.

The Chief Executive at HKSTP noted that the first batch of research institutes that will locate in the city’s Science Park in Sha Tin will be announced in the next few weeks with other hi-tech hubs like Singapore, Israel and Silicon Valley, as governments worldwide look at tapping the opportunities thrown up by the array of new technologies while trying to minimise the impact that these disruptive forces may have on current jobs and industries.

In October last year, the Science Park announced a wide array of new initiatives as well as enhanced programmes and support services aimed at strengthening and accelerating the growth of Hong Kong’s innovation and technology sector and start-ups.

Those new measures are the first phase of roll-outs using the HK$10 billion funding support provided by the Hong Kong government. The focus is on nurturing start-ups of different stages to achieve their next level of growth.

That effort would enhance the park’s current suite of value-added services to attract talent and funding, as well as build a strong and robust portfolio of innovation and technology companies, helping create new opportunities for business and employment, according to the Park’s head of incubation and acceleration programmes, in a separate written statement.

Commenting on the current tensions between China and the US, Wong said Hong Kong is benefiting to some degree based on the increase in inquiries over the past six to nine months for overseas talent to be based in the city. Indeed, interest has risen even before the election of the current US President.

Chinese researchers, academics and university graduates have reported facing more suspicion in the US, especially in industries that may have military applications, such as in aerospace and advanced materials. Some have faced lengthy reviews for visa applications, causing them to give up job offers.

For Hong Kong, the aim is to retain research and development and core financial operations in the city, even if many companies may move their supply chains to the Greater Bay Area.

The biggest challenge to building a tech ecosystem in Hong Kong is cultural, in the sense that many parents still want their children to become doctors and lawyers, though that mindset is changing.

An investment of time was made into speaking with professors and medical students at Chinese University. It was encouraging to see that, typically, many top students in Hong Kong tend to choose to go into medicine; they all want to do something in tech, want to know how to set up a company.

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