Hong Kong 2006
Chapter 5:
Commerce and Industry
Merchandise Trade Performance
The Manufacturing Sector
The Services Sector
External Investment
The Institutional Framework
External Commercial Relations
Small and Medium Enterprises
Promotion of Innovation and Technology
Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
Professional Services Development Assistance Scheme
Business Facilitation
Trade Documentation
Hong Kong Awards for Industries
Trade and Industrial Support Organisations
Standards and Conformance Services
Human Resources, Technical Education and Industrial Training
Consumer Protection
Trade in Endangered Species
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Promotion of Innovation and Technology

Innovation and Technology Commission

The Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) is responsible for spearheading Hong Kong's drive to become a world-class, knowledge-based economy. The commission, which is under the Communications and Technology Branch of CITB, formulates and implements policies and measures to promote innovation and technology; supports applied research and development (R&D), supports technology transfer and application; promotes technological entrepreneurship; promotes the wider use of design; facilitates the provision of innovation and technology infrastructure and development of human resources; and promotes internationally accepted standards and conformity assessment services to underpin technological development and international trade. The commission works closely with its partners in the Government, industry, business, tertiary education institutions and industrial support organisations.

To make Hong Kong a regional centre for innovation and technology, the Government has been implementing various initiatives to drive forward innovation and technology. It offers a range of infrastructure and funding support for applied R&D activities and design-related projects.

Innovation and Technology Fund

The $5 billion Innovation and Technology Fund was established in 1999. It supports projects that will help upgrade the level of technology and promote innovation in the manufacturing and service industries. By year-end, the fund had provided financial support of some $2.68 billion to 897 projects undertaken by research institutes and the industry.

Promoting Technological Entrepreneurship

Major efforts have been made to promote technological entrepreneurship. Under the Innovation and Technology Fund, the Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Programme provides dollar-to-dollar matching grants of up to $2 million per project to help small start-up companies carry out R&D activities to turn innovative technological ideas into commercially viable products, processes or services. By year-end, $252.1 million in financial support had been provided to 240 companies.

The $750 million Applied Research Fund was established in March 1998. By year-end, $410 million in financial support had been provided to 25 companies through private venture capital firms. After a review in 2005, the fund has ceased making new investment, but it will continue to operate to oversee existing investments and their exits.

DesignSmart Initiative

The $250 million DesignSmart Initiative was launched in June 2004 to strengthen support for design and innovation, and to promote the wider use of design and innovation in industries to help them move up the value chain.

Under the DesignSmart Initiative, the Design Support Programme supports projects in four categories — design research, design/business collaboration, professional continuing education in design and promoting a design culture. By year-end, 57 projects had received financial support of some $54 million. Another measure of the DesignSmart Initiative is the InnoCentre, which was set up jointly by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and the Hong Kong Design Centre. Officially opened by the Chief Executive in November 2006, this one-stop shop aims to create and sustain a cluster of high value-added design activities, including the provision of an incubation programme for design start-ups.

Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute Company Limited

The publicly funded Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute Company Limited (ASTRI) has been in operation since 2001. It performs high quality research and development for use in industry and its research programme focuses on four areas, namely, communications technologies, consumer electronics, integrated circuit design and opto-electronics.

Hong Kong Jockey Club Institute of Chinese Medicine Limited

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Institute of Chinese Medicine Limited was incorporated in May 2001 as a subsidiary company of ASTRI. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has pledged to donate $500 million to support the institute's research and development programmes.

Hong Kong Design Centre

The Hong Kong Design Centre was established in May 2001 as a multi-disciplinary organisation dedicated to the promotion of design as a value-added activity in business. Apart from running programmes at the InnoCentre, it also organised major activities like the Business of Design Week.

New Strategic Framework for Innovation and Technology Development

After a comprehensive review and public consultation in 2004, the Government decided to adopt a highly focused approach to promote applied R&D and support technology upgrading in industry. Under the new strategic framework, the Government set up five R&D centres in April 2006 covering the following technology focus areas:

  automotive parts and accessory systems;
information and communications technologies;
logistics and supply chain management enabling technologies;
nanotechnology and advanced materials; and
textiles and clothing.

The centres aim to develop core competencies in their respective technology areas and become the focal points of applied R&D and technology transfer. In line with the market-driven, demand-led approach of the new strategy, the centres have been working closely with the industry in drawing up their R&D directions, defining their technology development roadmaps, and facilitating the commercialisation of R&D results.

Technology Cooperation with the Mainland

The Mainland and Hong Kong Science and Technology Cooperation Committee was formed in 2004 to formulate and coordinate technology cooperation and exchange programmes between Hong Kong and the Mainland. The Committee has formed working groups to enhance cooperation in four technology areas: automotive parts and accessory systems, Chinese medicine, integrated circuit design and radio frequency identification technologies.

The ITC and the Guangdong Provincial Department of Science and Technology have been running the Guangdong-Hong Kong Technology Cooperation Funding Scheme since 2004 to support applied R&D projects in technology areas of common interest. In 2006, the two sides supported a total of 224 projects with a total funding of some $500 million. The ITC has also been participating actively in the Joint Conference on Pan-Pearl River Delta (PRD) Regional Cooperation in Science and Technology and is working closely with the other Pan-PRD members to take forward the measures proposed in a planning study to foster Pan-PRD cooperation in science and technology for 2006-2010. The ITC also nominated entries for the 2006 State Science and Technology Awards and jointly organised a Hong Kong Pavilion with the Hong Kong Productivity Council and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council in the 8th China Hi-Tech Fair held in Shenzhen in October 2006 to showcase Hong Kong's technological achievements.

Publicity and Promotional Events

The ITC organised the Innovation Festival 06 from October to December to foster an innovation and technology culture in the community, particularly among the youth. Under the theme of 'Youth Inspires...City of Innovation', the festival comprised a series of activities, including a Youth Innovation Exhibition, an invention competition, roadshows in five popular shopping malls and 120 technology and design workshops, which attracted over 60 000 participants. With the support of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, the ITC established the Hong Kong Youth Innovation Club in October 2006 and organised the 2006 Hong Kong Student Science Project Competition to nurture a new generation of young innovators.

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