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Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 08:42

HK can be a global innovation center: Minister

By Luis Liu in Hong Kong
HK can be a global innovation center: Minister
Tung Chee-hwa (right), chairman of Our Hong Kong Foundation, shakes hands with Wan Gang, the central government’s minister of science and technology, during a luncheon organized by the foundation in Wan Chai on Dec 7. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

Amid criticisms of Hong Kong’s innovation sector, the central government’s minister of science and technology reiterated that the city was a “highland” of science and technology research and hoped it would develop into one of world’s leading centers for innovation.

This was the second time in 24 hours that Wan Gang used this specific term to describe Hong Kong’s position in innovation. It is one of the first remarks by a State-level official on Hong Kong’s science and technology development after the SAR established its Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB).

Wan was delivering a keynote speech at a luncheon organized by Our Hong Kong Foundation, a think tank chaired by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. He said Hong Kong, as a city with high-density world-class universities and professors, was a “highland” of science and technology research.

According to official statistics, more than 470 Hong Kong scientists have joined the country’s top scientific programs since 2006. Among these, 100 are group leaders.

The central government has set up 16 collaborative laboratories in six of the city’s universities. Five branches of the National Engineering Research Center have been established here.

Wan expected the city would grow into an “internationally influential” innovation center. This was because it was the seventh most competitive economy in the world, had excellent service industries and unique advantages in global capital operations.

He vowed to promote both official and non-official cooperation on innovation between Hong Kong and the mainland. This would enable more concrete work to be done smoothly after the establishment of the ITB.

Meanwhile, he urged Hong Kong business leaders to act on the vast opportunities ahead and invest in innovation and new tech development.

More incentives have been introduced to Hong Kong entrepreneurs, encouraging them to head north and realize their ambitions. On Monday, four entrepreneurial agreements were signed. This is to help Hong Kong people start businesses in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Shenzhen.

Local economic analyst Leung Hai-ming also sees the city’s strengths. He cited local startup Green Tomato as an example. The mobile company created the embryonic form of voice chat apps, which is applied by Internet giant Tencent in its dominant chat app, WeChat.

However, marketing expert Leo Sin Yat-ming voiced concern that top local talents do not want to study science and technology because work in the city’s industrial structure could be monotonous. He said developing talented people was a long process and Hong Kong needed to improve further.
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