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New HK budget prioritizes InnoTech

While delivering his 2020-21 Budget speech, the Financial Secretary of Hong Kong suggested that $3 billion be earmarked for Phase 2 of the Science Park Expansion Programme.

He stressed that innovation and technology is an important growth engine for future economic development, and pointed out that the Government is developing two InnoHK research clusters at the Science Park.

While one cluster focuses on healthcare technologies, the other focuses on artificial intelligence and robotics technologies.

With the first batch of research and development centres expected to be set up this year, the Government is actively exploring the establishment of a third InnoHK research cluster.

From April onwards, the Technology Voucher Programme will be enhanced by increasing the Government’s funding ratio to 75% and funding ceiling to $600,000.

The number of approved projects will also go up – increasing to a maximum of six.

This will promote the wider use of technological services and solutions among local enterprises for increasing their productivity or upgrading and transforming business processes.

To encourage the logistics industry to boost productivity through technology application, the Government will introduce a pilot subsidy scheme with an injection of $345 million.

Each eligible third-party logistics service provider will receive subsidies to implement up to four projects, subject to a cumulative subsidy ceiling of $1 million. The scheme is expected to benefit about 300 companies.

Tech receives more government support

According to an earlier OpenGov Asia report, Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary also highlighted the importance of creating a livable city and announced various environmental protection measures in his 2020-21 Budget, including those to promote the use of electric vehicles.

The Government would formulate Hong Kong’s first roadmap on the use of electric vehicles and launch a $2 billion pilot scheme this year to subsidise charging-enabling infrastructure installation ineligible car parks of private residential buildings.

The Government will also earmark $80 million to launch an electric public light bus pilot scheme and $350 million for an electric ferry scheme.

The Financial Secretary also stated that he is preparing for the launch of a scheme in the second half of this year to phase out about 40,000 Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles, and has set aside $7.1 billion for ex-gratia payments to the vehicle owners concerned.

To support the wastepaper recycling industry, the finance chief proposed a sum of no less than $300 million each year for implementing a scheme to help stabilise the quantity and price of local waste paper. The scheme is expected to start in the second half of this year.

In addition, the FS suggested that a $200 million Green Tech Fund be set up to support the research and development and application of decarbonisation and green technologies.

In addition, $300 million has been earmarked to extend the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme to help improve the regional environment.

One of the main missions of the HKSAR Government, laid out in its Smart City Blueprint, is to enable local and international businesses to capitalise on Hong Kong’s renowned business-friendly environment to foster innovation, transform the city into a living lab and testbed for development.

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