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Hong Kong rolls out R&D funding scheme

The 2020 Guangdong-Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme is open for applications, the Innovation & Technology Commission (ITC) announced on 24 August 2020. Launched in 2004, the scheme provides funding for applied research and development projects in Guangdong and Hong Kong. The Shenzhen government joined the scheme in 2005. The initiative enhances collaboration between universities, research institutes and technology enterprises and upgrades the technological level of the industry in the Greater Pearl River Delta region.

There are three project categories under the scheme. The first category covers projects funded by the Innovation & Technology Fund while the second covers those funded by Mainland authorities.

The third category is jointly funded by the Guangdong and Hong Kong governments or the Shenzhen and Hong Kong governments. The ITC said there are 37 technology areas under the third category which are open to applications from Hong Kong and Mainland institutions. Such areas are relevant to the needs of the industry and will enhance economic development in the Greater Pearl River Delta region, it added.

Furthering technological R&D

In July 2020, OpenGov Asia reported that the Researcher Programme and the Postdoctoral Hub have been merged to become the Research Talent Hub to nurture more innovation and technology talents. At present, the Researcher Programme and the Postdoctoral Hub provide funding support for eligible companies and organisations to engage two researchers and two postdoctoral talents to conduct research and development work.

Over the last three years, the Researcher Programme has approved over 2,300 researcher positions with total funding of about $780 million, while the Postdoctoral Hub has supported over 1,030 postdoctoral talents with total funding of about $603 million since its launch in August 2018.

The commission said the two programmes have been merged and collectively named as the Research Talent Hub, under which each eligible company or organisation can obtain funding support to engage up to four I&T talents with a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree to conduct R&D work, thereby providing more flexibility for employers in engaging research talents.

The maximum engagement period for each research talent is three years in general. The maximum monthly allowances for research talents with a local bachelor’s degree, local master’s degree or doctoral degree are $18,000, $21,000 and $32,000.

All technology companies conducting R&D activities in Hong Kong, including incubatees and I&T tenants of the Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation and Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited, as well as organisations and companies undertaking R&D projects funded by the Innovation & Technology Fund are eligible to apply.

A press release stated that the FinTech Anti-epidemic Scheme for Talent Development (FAST Scheme) under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund will be launched on July 2, the Financial Services & the Treasury Bureau announced on 1 July 2020. The Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury stated that the Government has earmarked $6 billion under the Anti-epidemic Fund to create around 30,000 time-limited jobs in both public and private sectors in the coming two years for people of different skill sets and academic qualifications.

To support fintech development, the bureau will launch the FAST Scheme for fintech companies and start-ups, and other enterprises with fintech-related businesses to create 1,000 new jobs to employ local people and enrich Hong Kong’s fintech talent pool.

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