Following is the full text of the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, at the First Anniversary Gathering of the Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Programme (SERAP) today (January 19):
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
It is great to have this opportunity to meet with some of Hong Kong's rising stars in the innovation and technology field. I hope that I will be able to learn a little bit more about what you are doing when we have a chat later on. I'm sure it will be extremely interesting, but please forgive me if I don't quite grasp the technical aspects of what you are doing. Having said that I am not too bad with figures if you want to talk dollars and cents!
The Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Programme, SERAP for short, is an excellent example of how the government and entrepreneurs like yourselves can work together to bolster the development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong. It provides up to $2 million seed capital for qualified, entrepreneur-driven companies to embark on R&D work that will enable them to take products and services into the market.
Since its inception in late-1999, we have received 192 applications and approved 41 for funding. These 41 projects are all conducted by small companies, with less than 20 employees, but with considerable commercial potential. Many may not have made it this far without funding support from the SERAP.
Some of those who have benefited from the funding programme include university students, graduates and researchers in science and technology. Others have been companies already involved in the technology business but who needed extra funding to hasten progress by getting better resources and support. We hope that through the SERAP we will be able to help create wealth, employment opportunities and new businesses, as well as boost the competitiveness of fledgling enterprises. While you use your skills and know-how to turn bright and innovative ideas into a profitable business, the Hong Kong economy will win too. All this moves Hong Kong closer towards realising its vision to become a major centre in Asia for innovation, technology and the Internet.
Also present here today are members of the investment community and those involved in the Hong Kong Industrial Technology Centre's incubation programme. It is a tremendous opportunity for business networking and for building synergy among various stakeholders. Its success may also lead to similar events in the future. I am sure that if this happens we will see more and better business collaboration, and a better rate of investment flows in the innovation and technology sectors.
Before I have a chat with you, I must wish you all the best for 2001 and 'kung hei fat choy' for a happy and prosperous Year of the Snake. And good luck to all of you for future business success.
End/Friday, January 19, 2001