【明報專訊】CHIEF EXECUTIVE Carrie Lam and many other speakers shared their views in the "Hong Kong Repositioning: Developing an International Innovation and Technology (I&T) Hub" forum organised by Ming Pao yesterday (April 1). Lam said that the government had spent tens of billions of Hong Kong Dollars on a number of policies and measures, providing concessions for the industry and helping nurture talent. It had also invested vigorously in research funds to improve I&T infrastructure. These measures had achieved a certain degree of success, Lam said, and while in the past "there were the seeds but not the soil", the situation had changed. She particularly mentioned the government's proposal to build two world-class platforms in Hong Kong Science Park for medical technology and artificial intelligence to attract top organisations across the globe to establish a presence in Hong Kong and build research centres together with local universities and research institutes. Initial reception has been pretty good, as a number of prestigious European and American universities including Harvard University, Stanford University and John Hopkins University in the US; Imperial College London and University College London in the UK; Institut Pasteur in France; and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany have signed memoranda of cooperation with Hong Kong institutions to agree to operate in Hong Kong, showing the international community's optimism about the outlook for I&T in Hong Kong.
There is no lack of conditions for the development of I&T in Hong Kong — just look at aspects such as science, education, capital and the legal system, which are all Hong Kong's strengths. However, to promote the development of I&T, it is necessary to build an ecosystem that links these elements closely. Compared with the governments in neighbouring regions, the Hong Kong government has not invested enough in I&T. Local corporations' investment in I&T also falls far behind that of mainland and South Korean corporations. There are first-rate people in I&T in Hong Kong. The key is to overcome the problems of a business culture that prioritises the pursuit of quick returns and the structural obstacle to the industrialisation of I&T.
It often takes outside forces for one to break through existing barriers. The building of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will bring about exactly this effect to the development of I&T in Hong Kong. As pointed out by Tsui Lap-chee, founding president of the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong, Shenzhen is a good partner of Hong Kong's on its path of I&T. The presence of first-class universities and a hub for research and manufacture in the Greater Bay Area means that it can handle all the components of I&T in the upper, middle and lower reaches.
The emphasis of the development of the Greater Bay Area is on overcoming the obstacles to the flow of "innovation elements". In the future, the movement of talents between Hong Kong and other cities in the Greater Bay Area such as Shenzhen is likely to become even more frequent. Determining which city will attract a higher number of talents and start-ups to settle in Hong Kong will be whether the government policies are on the mark and whether the ecosystem is conducive to I&T. These are the two areas on which Hong Kong has to work harder. Hong Kong needs to upgrade its strength in I&T and should not confine itself to being a place for share listing and fundraising for the industry. Rather than playing the "middleman", Hong Kong should seize the opportunity for the development of I&T opened up by the Greater Bay Area and take part in it actively. Even more important is that if foreign research institutes and corporations settle in Hong Kong only on a franchise basis with the goal of gaining a foothold on the mainland rather than relocating their research projects to Hong Kong, the help to Hong Kong's development of I&T will be extremely limited.
memorandum : a record of a legal agreement which has not yet been formally prepared and signed
outlook : the probable future for sb/sth; what is likely to happen
first-rate : of the very best quality