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Hong Kong: Innovation Hub in the Making

Source: Science and Technology Daily | 2022-07-07 09:55:48 | Author: LU Zijian

The Hong Kong Science Park officially opened in 2002 with a vision to create an innovation-driven future for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. (PHOTO: XINHUA)

By LU Zijian

After 25 years back in the fold of the motherland, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has witnessed its innovation advances soar, especially in the recent past.

The number of start-ups has rocketed from around 1,500 in 2015 to 4,000 in 2021 in Hong Kong, and more than ten unicorn enterprises have been born there.

According to the World Competitiveness Ranking 2022 released by International Institute for Management Development, Hong Kong is ranked 5th in the world.

Step by step, Hong Kong is making a great effort to become more innovative.

R&D cooperation

By 2021, there were 16 national key laboratories, six branches of national engineering research centers, and 22 joint laboratories with Chinese Academy of Sciences in Hong Kong.

Gao Min, dean of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Fok Ying Tung Research Institute, said that the eight universities in Hong Kong have access to Tianhe-2, the renowned supercomputer installed at the National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou, and enjoy its data service via a special line.

Thanks to Tianhe-2, athlete Lee Wai-sze won a bronze medal in the women's track cycling sprint at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as Professor Zhang Xin at HKUST helped to improve her riding posture and outfit based on the calculations of Tianhe-2.

According to Gao, more than 200 research teams from Hong Kong and Macao have used Tianhe-2, which greatly improved the sci -tech research in the two regions.

Research cooperation between enterprises also brought about fruitful results. Roborn, a robot company in Hong Kong, established a strategic partnership with ZTE and China Mobile in 2018, and developed a 5G compliance motion control humanoid robot, which is the first of its kind in China.

Obtaining policy and fund support

The central government has been offering policy and funding support for the sci -tech innovation development of Hong Kong.

A science and technology cooperation committee between Hong Kong and the mainland was established as early as 2004 and 15 meetings have subsequently been held.

The Arrangement on Enhancing Innovation & Technology Cooperation between the Mainland and Hong Kong was signed between the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the the HKSAR in 2018 to promote sci-tech cooperation.

Researchers from Hong Kong universities are treated equally with their counterparts at mainland universities, and they can apply for national key R&D projects in all nine basic frontier areas, said Wang Zhigang, minister of science and technology.

For the past two years alone, more than 440 million RMB was authorized for Hong Kong's universities and research institutes for R&D projects or establishing laboratories, said Carrie Lam, former Chief Executive of HKSAR, at the Greater Bay Science Forum 2021 last December.

As early as 2018, the first batch of funding was given directly from the central government distributed to research institutes in Hong Kong. K. F. Chung, director of the Chinese National Engineering Research Centre for Steel Construction (Hong Kong Branch), said that previously he had to visit the mainland for research as the funding could not be used in Hong Kong, but now he can focus on his research without excessive commuting,

Greater Bay Area integration

On the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Bay Area was initially signed.

In February 2019, the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area was released, in which innovation cooperation in the area was emphasized.

Since then, innovation in the Greater Bay Area has been accelerated. As an indispensable part of the area, Hong Kong also quickened its pace to become an innovation hub. According to the annual Global Innovation Index report, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou area ranked second for two consecutive years on the list of science and technology clusters.

At a press conference in February 2021, Wang said that sci-tech plans funded by the central government will be further open to Hong Kong and Macao during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, supporting capable research institutes and scientists from Hong Kong to lead or jointly undertake national basic research tasks with institutes from the mainland. Scholars from Hong Kong and Macao will also be supported to participated in major international science plans and projects, and play a greater role in international sci-tech organizations.

The 14th Five-Year Plan supports Hong Kong to develop itself into an international center for innovation and technology, and proposed to strengthen collaborative development among enterprises, universities, and research institutions in the Greater Bay Area.

Great opportunities lie ahead for Hong Kong's journey towards an international innovation hub, with ongoing support from the motherland.

Editor: 王晓夏

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