2019年4月14日 星期日

news.gov.hk - Top Story: I&T a policy priority: CE

news.gov.hk - Top Story
news.gov.hk - Top Story - From Hong Kong's Information Services Department 
I&T a policy priority: CE
Apr 13th 2019, 16:00

Innovation and technology is a policy priority for my Government and an area of progressive growth and boundless promise for our universities. Hong Kong has what it takes to be successful in this field. To start with, we have world-class research capabilities. Four Hong Kong universities rank among the world's top 100. That includes the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, a founding member of the Asian Universities Alliance (AUA). Let me add that this prestigious university is among the top young universities in the world, leading the way in science and engineering-related subjects.


Hong Kong's technology research strengths include biotechnology, artificial intelligence and robotics. To expand on these and other areas of excellence, we have in recent years put in place numerous policies and programmes to promote research and development at our universities. Our Innovation & Technology Fund, for example, supports both applied and forward-looking R&D projects undertaken by our universities. We also have the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities under the fund, which enables university professors and students to start technology companies and commercialise their R&D results.


In January this year, we launched the Partnership Research Programme under the fund. It sponsors R&D projects undertaken by private companies in collaboration with local universities. There is also a dedicated programme which funds universities engaged in midstream research.


On top of the above, our Innovation & Technology Fund assists universities in their technology transfer. And, I'm pleased to note, R&D results among our universities are encouraging. A startup linked with Hong Kong Polytechnic University, for example, developed soft contact lenses and spectacle lenses that can retard the progression of myopia in children. Its related defocus-incorporated-multiple-segments technology won the Grand Prize at last year's International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva. The research behind this breakthrough was funded by our Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities that I mentioned just now. By the way, I am thrilled to learn from yesterday's news and this morning's newspapers that this year's Geneva Exhibition of Inventions' Grand Prize also goes to a Hong Kong company, a startup at Science Park, with a water-based manufacturing process to recycle and reuse lithium battery as its winning entry.


Excellent work is also being done by the 16 State Key Labs and six local branches of Chinese National Engineering Research Centres here, which are funded in full or in part by the Innovation & Technology Fund. Hosted by Hong Kong universities, their achievements include the new stress-tolerant soybean cultivar, and the world's first scientific model for predicting metal toxicity in marine environments and bodies of water. Let me add that Prof Dennis Lo, Director of the State Key Lab of Translational Oncology, was named among the Top 20 Translational Researchers for two consecutive years by the world-renowned journal Nature Biotechnology. Prof Lo developed a noninvasive prenatal diagnostic technology that has benefited millions of pregnant women around the world. And SenseTime, a home-grown technology company in the Hong Kong Science Park founded by Prof Tang Xiaoou has developed into the world's most valuable AI startup in just a little over three years.


It's all very encouraging, which is why we continue to expand our support – through facilitating policies and considerable investment at some US$12.5 billion in the past two years. This fiscal year, my Government doubled annual funding under our Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities. Each university now gets more than US$1 million a year. We've done the same for the technology transfer office of each university, which means a doubling of funding to more than US$1 million a year. As for our State Key Labs and the Hong Kong Branches of Chinese National Engineering Research Centres, their annual funding has also been doubled to US$1.3 million.


And to boost our impressive talent base, my Government launched the Postdoctoral Hub last August under the Innovation & Technology Fund. It funds universities and other organisations in their recruitment of post-doctoral talent for R&D work. The Researcher Programme also supports them in the hiring of local graduates to assist in R&D projects. Since February, the maximum time period for these two programmes has been extended to three years. Response is overwhelming with the Researcher Programme having sponsored over 3,800 local graduates to join the I&T industry and the Postdoctoral Hub Programme having sponsored 360 postdoctoral talents to pursue a career in R&D.


We are, in short, committed to helping our universities realise their full R&D potential. Our more ambitious goal, however, is to help build an international I&T hub here in Hong Kong. That includes the establishment of two world-class research clusters at our Science Park - one targeting healthcare technologies, the other AI and robotics. In each case, we are inviting renowned universities, research institutions and companies from all over the world to look to Hong Kong for their future.


The response has been encouraging, and from such prestigious universities as Harvard, Stanford and Johns Hopkins in the US, Imperial College and University College London in the UK, the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany and the Institut Pasteur in France. From the Mainland of China, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Tsinghua University are amongst the active project proponents. In all, we've received nearly 50 proposals to date, and the first research institutions will be setting up their laboratories in two brand new buildings at the Science Park before the end of this year.


We are also building unprecedented connections and opportunity through the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The city cluster comprises the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao and nine major cities in Guangdong, and each of the 11 cities will contribute their respective strengths. The Outline Development Plan for the Greater Bay Area was promulgated by the Central Government in February this year, and the goal of creating an international I&T hub for the Greater Bay Area occupies a very prominent part of the plan.


To that end, we are strengthening our collaboration with the Mainland on the I&T front under the "one country, two systems" principle. With the support of the Central Government, our local universities and research institutions are now eligible to apply for state funding on science and technology and the approved funds will be remitted to Hong Kong. Also in last year, we signed a co-operation arrangement with the Mainland's Ministry of Science & Technology, which serves as an action guide and framework for us to enhance co-operation in scientific research, nurturing of talents, transfer of results, etc. We also entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which will set up an affiliated institution here in Hong Kong to facilitate its research institutes to participate in the research clusters I mentioned earlier. And we've established a Greater Bay Area academician alliance to promote co-operation among academicians from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. They will help advise on the Greater Bay Area's technological development. 


We would like to see more world-renowned universities and research institutions joining us, both for the research clusters being set up in Hong Kong and for the Greater Bay Area development. That is why university visits are now almost a must-see on my official itinerary overseas. Last week, during my trip to Japan, I visited the University of Tokyo, a member of the AUA, and had a very fruitful meeting with President Gonokami.


While we are all excited about science and technological innovation, we must not forget about sustainable development, or the broader humanity issues, without which there will be little social and ecological harmony. I am glad to note that sustainable development is also a main theme to be discussed at this Presidents Forum.


Hong Kong definitely realises the importance of sustainable development. And the Government has rolled out various environmental blueprints and measures to tackle environmental degradation.


Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Asian Universities Alliance Summit 2019 Presidents Forum on April 14.

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