GOVT AIMS TO BOOST I&T DEVELOPMENT

28-2-2024

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Financial Secretary Paul Chan today spelt out how out how the Government is investing in building a vibrant, international innovation and technology (I&T) ecosystem, and announced the allocation of $3 billion to Cyberport for the launch of an AI Subsidy Scheme aimed at supporting scientific breakthroughs.

In his 2024-25 Budget Speech, Mr Chan said the Government is focused on making enhancements to the city’s I&T infrastructure, research capacity, talent pipelines and more, and has a clear vision for establishing Hong Kong as an international I&T centre, as outlined in the Hong Kong Innovation & Technology Development Blueprint, promulgated in 2022.

He noted that as at the end of 2023, enterprises incubated at the Hong Kong Science Park or Cyberport now include 16 listed firms, nine of which are unicorns, with Science Park and Cyberport companies having raised a combined total of some $130 billion and won more than 1,700 local and non-local awards.

Mr Chan highlighted that Cyberport is establishing an AI Supercomputing Centre to meet the demands of research institutes and industry for computing power. The first phase of the facility is expected to start operating this year at the earliest, and by early 2026 at the soonest its computing power is expected to reach 3,000 petaFLOPS. 

The finance chief announced that $3 billion will be allocated to Cyberport for the launch of a three-year AI Subsidy Scheme designed to support local universities, research institutes and enterprises in leveraging the centre’s computing power to achieve scientific breakthroughs. The funding will also be used to strengthen the centre’s cyber security and data protection capabilities, and to launch promotional and educational activities, such as encouraging Mainland and overseas AI experts, enterprises and R&D projects to come to Hong Kong.

The Government will also establish the Hong Kong Microelectronics Research & Development Institute this year. The institute will spearhead and facilitate research collaboration on third-generation semiconductors among universities, R&D centres and industry, and make use of the Greater Bay Area’s comprehensive manufacturing industry chain to realise R&D outcomes.

In the area of life and health technology, Mr Chan said that of the $10 billion previously earmarked to promote the sector’s development, $6 billion will be used to provide subsidies for local universities to collaborate with Mainland and overseas organisations in setting up life and health technology research institutes. 

In addition, the Government will set up the Greater Bay Area International Clinical Trial Institute in the Hetao Shenzhen-Hong Kong Science & Technology Innovation Co-operation Zone this year.  The institute will provide one-stop support to attract more local, Mainland and overseas pharmaceutical and medical device enterprises to conduct clinical trials in Hong Kong. 

Mr Chan noted that under the new “1+” mechanism, which allows swifter registration of drugs designed to treat life-threatening or severely debilitating diseases, the Department of Health has already approved two new drugs. He added that the Government is committed to establishing the Hong Kong Centre for Medical Products Regulation to accelerate the clinical application of new drugs and medical devices. A preparatory office will be set up in the first half of this year to study the restructuring and strengthening of the current regulatory and approval regimes for drugs, medical devices and medical technologies. 

Meanwhile, the Government will this year launch a $10 billion New Industrialisation Acceleration Scheme, under which enterprises engaged in either life and health technology, AI and data science, advanced manufacturing, or new energy technology, can access funding support of up to $200 million on a matching basis. It is anticipated that the scheme will attract 50 to 100 enterprises to invest no less than $20 billion in Hong Kong.

Participating enterprises can also receive subsidies to engage research talent via the Research Talent Hub. They may also, on a pilot basis, engage a small number of non-local technical personnel under the Technology Talent Admission Scheme to expedite establishment of advanced manufacturing facilities in Hong Kong.

The finance chief stated that the first batch of buildings at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation & Technology Park (HSITP), in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, will commence operation in stages from the end of this year, and that a White Paper on the Development of the HSITP in the Loop is currently being drafted.

He also remarked that the setting up of the InnoLife Healthtech Hub at the HSITP will attract top-level life and health research teams and talent from around the world. He said that $2 billion will be allocated to helping InnoHK research clusters establish a presence in the Loop, and $200 million allocated to assist life and health technology start-ups via schemes such as incubation and acceleration programmes.

Noting that Hong Kong ranked second in the world and top in Asia under the Emerging Startup Ecosystems category in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2023, Mr Chan iterated that the Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation will soon launch a Co-acceleration Programme. Its purpose is to pool I&T industry efforts and provide value-added support services to I&T start-ups with high potential.

Moreover, the Government will launch a Frontier Technology Research Infrastructure Support Scheme to assist the eight University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities, on a matching basis, in procuring facilities and conducting research projects in fields such as AI, quantum information, integrated circuits, clinical medicine and health, and genetics and biotechnology. A sum of $3 billion from previously earmarked funds will be allocated for the scheme.

In addition, subsidies of no more than $16 million will be provided to the Technology Transfer Office of each of the eight UGC-funded universities from 2024-25 onwards to enable them to strengthen technology transfer and marketing services.


Mr Chan also reported that Batch 1 of Stage 2 of the Science Park Expansion Programme, which will provide a gross floor area (GFA) of about 13,000 square metres, mainly for wet laboratories, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year.  The Cyberport 5 expansion project, which will provide a GFA of about 66,000 square metres for co-working spaces and offices, is expected to be completed by the end of next year at the earliest. 




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