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Hong Kong Chief Executive’s Policy Address highlights – Part 1

Yesterday (10 October 2018), Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, delivered her 2018 Policy Address. The press release by the HKSAR Government comprehensively reflects the progress the region has made while also expounding on the next steps that Hong Kong will be taking with regards to technology, digital transformation and other pertinent topics.

In the following series, OpenGovAsia will present the highlights of this Policy Address and attempt to emphasise areas of the address pertaining to technology and innovation in digestible pieces of information.

The address began with the Chief Executive expressing pride in the progress Hong Kong has made, from improving its position as a financial centre (including revisions of listing regulations and the application of Fintech) to forging ahead in the development of innovation and technology (I&T); for example, the establishment of I&T clusters on healthcare technologies, artificial intelligence and robotics technologies.

Moreover, the leader emphasised the need for collaboration between all the regions political parties in the interest of progress and development.

The first main topic the Chief Executive presented was on good governance, stating that establishing cooperation agreements with different central ministries and commissions over the last year; particularly with regards to the Arrangement for Advancing Hong Kong’s Full Participation in and Contribution to the Belt & Road Initiative signed with the NDRC and the Arrangement on Enhancing Innovation and Technology Co-operation between the Mainland and Hong Kong recently signed with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

It was noted that these agreements to collaborate have provided Hong Kong with many opportunities to participate in national development and enhance the opportunities of its industries and professional services.

The Policy Address also highlighted the importance of a diversified economy,  seeing as Hong Kong has been acclaimed as the world’s most open, freest and most competitive city by many international organisations. The leader referred to The National 13th Five-Year Plan which pledges support for Hong Kong to reinforce and enhance its status as an international financial, transportation and trade centre as well as develop its I&T industry.

A substantial part of the Policy Address shed light on the strides Hong Kong has made in the arena of Innovation and Technology.

First, the bill  for providing enhanced tax deductions for qualifying R&D expenditure incurred by local enterprises has entered the final stage of scrutiny in the LegCo, the passage of which will benefit enterprises for their qualifying R&D expenditure in 2018‑19.

The Government has also accepted the recommendations made by the Task Force on Review of Research Policy and Funding led by a prominent professor, including an additional injection of HK$156 billion (US$20 billion) into the Research Endowment Fund set up by the Research Grants Council (RGC) under the University Grants Committee (UGC) to strengthen the research capabilities of our universities, and the setting up of a scientific research matching fund of HK$23.5 (US$3 billion) to increase the source of research funding.

Second, funding approval of HK$78.4 billion (US$10 billion) has been obtained from the LegCo for establishing two I&T clusters at the Hong Kong Science Park, with one focusing on healthcare technologies and the other on artificial intelligence and robotics technologies. Two major instituted from China and one major research centre from France have already expressed interest in joining the clusters as the first batch of institutions to work in collaboration with local universities and research institutions.

Our target is for the first batch of scientific research institutions to set up their laboratories in the two I&T clusters progressively starting from the latter half of next year.

Moreover, the Government has launched two schemes: the Technology Talent Admission Scheme and the Technology Talent Scheme, aimed at pooling the region’s technology talent.

The fellowship schemes were set up using a three-pronged approach to attract, train and retain talent, thereby enlarging the local I&T talent pool. The Greater Bay Area academician alliance to be set up in Hong Kong will certainly add to the might of Hong Kong’s talent pool.

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