Science & Tech Innovation | Policy Research Series
Building the Technology Bridge for Scientific Breakthroughs: Developing an Innovation Hub of the Future
Universities’ research is the competitive edge for the development of the innovation and technology ecosystem in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, Hong Kong universities lag behind in technology transfer, failing to transform the ‘treasures’ of university research into viable products and services that will exert profound economic and social impacts.
It is high time for Hong Kong to address the gaps in technology transfer to build an innovation hub. Against the current backdrop, Our Hong Kong Foundation has published its new Science & Tech Innovation report, entitled ‘Building the Technology Bridge for Scientific Breakthroughs: Developing an Innovation Hub of the Future’.
Over half of Hong Kong’s R&D expenditure occurred in the higher education sector. Compared with just 23.6% in the United Kingdom and 12.9% in the United States, it is by no means an exaggeration to say that universities are the game-changer for the local innovation ecosystem. The key to unleashing university research is technology transfer, which brings world-class research outcomes to the market through licensing technologies or establishing spin-off companies.
To fill in the existing gaps, we put forward seven recommendations. To foster a culture of technology transfer on campuses, we recommend enhancing the assessment framework and funding allocation, offering more flexibilities and options for research commercialisation, improving universities’ technology transfer units, and strengthening the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities. In the meantime, we recommend the Government utilise the Future Fund to provide patient capital and deep-technology investment strategy, establish a high-level Science and Development Office to advise the Chief Executive, and develop the Kowloon Bay Action Area into a world-class innovation district. For specifics, please refer to full report.
We hope to strengthen technology transfer in Hong Kong universities and commercialise excellent basic research outcomes. As such, it would extend our research impact, generate new industrial opportunities, and increase the long-term productivity of our economy. Hong Kong can foster a vibrant innovation ecosystem and position itself as an international innovation hub.
Science & Technology Innovation Report
Although Hong Kong is one of the world’s most competitive economies, it needs to enhance its innovation capability to catch up with global peers. Our Hong Kong Foundation believes that science and technology innovation is a critical growth engine for Hong Kong’s economy in the future as well as an essential element to uphold its leading position in the world. Therefore, we have launched a new research report, titled “Unleash the Potential in Science and Technology Innovation: Develop Hong Kong into an International R&D Powerhouse”.
To unleash its full potential in science and technology innovation, Hong Kong needs to strengthen interdisciplinary and cross-institutional collaboration. As scientific developments and challenges are increasingly complex and multi-faced, tackling these emerging issues requires multilateral collaboration. To that end, this report puts forward the recommendation of establishing interdisciplinary and cross-institutional mega research institutes to attract top-notch international scientists to conduct large-scale, collaborative scientific research. Mega research institutes also provide local researchers with a promising career pathway, thereby promoting the development of the entire science and technology innovation ecosystem in Hong Kong. With a view to create the optimal conditions for mega research institutes to flourish, the report addresses three fundamental areas: funding, talent and collaboration. The recommendations aim to provide higher-level strategies, build the R&D talent pipeline and promote interdisciplinary and cross-institutional collaboration. We hope our report will complement the Government’s recent initiatives to accelerate Hong Kong’s science and technology innovation and develop Hong Kong into an international R&D powerhouse. With further enhancement in the local science and technology innovation ecosystem, Hong Kong definitely stands a strong chance to scale new heights and become a world’s leading innovative economy.
FinTech Advocacy Study
Hong Kong is a well-known international financial centre, and financial technology (FinTech) is one of the major trends affecting the global financial community. Maintaining our status as an innovative and world-class financial hub requires us to expand and promote the development of FinTech.
Our Hong Kong Foundation’s advocacy study on financial technology considers that a ‘FinTech regulatory sandbox’ is a highly suitable option to accommodate innovative FinTech product within existing regulations, while also maintaining social and economic stability. The advocacy study suggests that four aspects of the FinTech regulatory sandbox of Hong Kong’s regulatory authorities (the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Securities and Futures Commission, and the Insurance Authority) could be improved. They are: (1) collaboration; (2) inclusivity; (3) facilitation; and (4) scalability.
In light of Hong Kong’s comparative advantage in finance, we should seize this opportunity and maintain our competitive edge in FinTech development.
The Ecosystem of Innovation and Technology in Hong Kong
Our Hong Kong Foundation has released its research report on innovation and technology, and recommends establishing a HK$ 50 billion endowment fund on applied research. We recommend the Government to set the goal of increasing public R&D funding to 1% of GDP, to catch up with international peers.
To boost Hong Kong’s ecosystem of innovation and technology, a multi-pronged approach must be adopted. In terms of human resources, Our Hong Kong Foundation advocates for adding “societal impact” as a performance indicator for universities to promote more university-industry research collaboration. For business, regulatory bodies should strike a balance between innovation and regulation. At the same time, the Government should also support the development of venture capital and private incubator industries via co-investment schemes and other incentives. The Foundation also recommends that the Government establish a spatial data infrastructure to strengthen the future development of Hong Kong as a Smart City, as well as modify and expand Web API, to allow more personalised and convenient access to updated information to citizens and users. Moreover, the Foundation hopes the Government can promote collaboration with Shenzhen to create a regional technology cluster.