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Speech by SCIT at Business of Design Week (English Only)

    Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Joseph WP Wong, at the Opening Ceremony of the Business of Design Week today (November 29):(English Only)

Victor, Stephen, Fred, Freeman, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to officiate at the opening ceremony of the Business of Design Week 2006, and to welcome you all to the event, especially those who have travelled a long way to join us today.

     Now in its fifth year, the Business of Design Week has firmly established itself as a premier annual design event in the region. Over this short space of time, it has grown significantly in both breath and depth. This year's programmes include concurrent conferences focusing on design, brand management, innovation and technology, design education and culture, an exposition on innovation and design, a symposium dedicated to young industrialists, an outreach tour exploring cultural localities in Hong Kong, and a Gala Dinner celebrating design excellence and talent.

     It is indeed a thrilling experience to be among such a distinguished gathering of designers, business leaders, and academics. We look forward to playing host to some 10,000 participants from more than 20 countries and over 70 renowned speakers across the globe.

     Competition on low-cost production alone is no longer tenable in a world flattened by globalisation, technology advancement, and easy access to talent and capital. How to maintain and stimulate economic growth has become the biggest challenge facing the more developing or newly developed economies.

     In Hong Kong, we have been promoting innovation and technology as new drivers of economic growth. In 1999, we established the HK$5 billion (about US$640 million) Innovation and Technology Fund to enhance our applied research and development capacity. In April this year, we set up five dedicated Research and Development (R&D) Centres to focus on five technology and industry domains. We have also invested heavily in infrastructure, including Hong Kong Science Park, the Cyberport, the Hong Kong Productivity Council, and the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute, to build up clusters of new industries. And we will continue to do so as we have laid the foundation for phase 2 of the Science Park.

     On design, we helped the Hong Kong design professionals found the Hong Kong Design Centre in 2001 as the champion to promote integration of design into business, design as a business, as well as continuous professional development. In 2004, we launched the DesignSmart Initiative with HK$250 million funding to support projects to promote and strengthen our design capacity. The Business of Design Week is a flagship project under its sponsorship.

     Just two weeks ago, the InnoCentre, another DesignSmart flagship project, was officially opened by the Chief Executive. The InnoCentre is a seven-storey building in the centre of Hong Kong dedicated to the cultivation of a high value-added design cluster. Quality design companies, local and overseas, are welcome to become a tenant. Promising start-ups may apply for admission into an incubation programme. A wide range of support programmes from exhibitions, seminars, fashion shows, continuing education courses to networking functions will be organised to augment our design capacity and enhance collaboration between the design community and business and industry users.

     Hong Kong's innovation and technology programme is not meant to buttress our own economy alone. Today, the Greater Pearl River Delta Region, comprising 14 Guangdong cities and counties in the Pearl River Delta and the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, is a leading manufacturing and services base, consumer and services market, logistics hub and investment destination. This Region boasts a combined GDP of some US$300 billion and a population of over 50 million. The Pearl River Delta produces one-third of China's exports and has earned the title of the "Factory of the World", while Hong Kong has transformed itself into a services economy excelling in trading and logistics, as well as financing, management, technology, R&D, design, market knowledge and access to world markets. Less well known but important to note is the fact that it is home to over 60,000 manufacturing enterprises invested or controlled by Hong Kong companies, employing over 10 million people.  

     Our innovation and technology programme stands to make the most of the industrial strength of the whole Region by developing technology know-how, product and service design, and contents with high intellectual property value. While in the past, products made in the Region were destined for the international market, we now have the huge consumer market of China at home which has an exploding appetite for quality goods and services. On current trend, China's consumer market, measured in purchasing power parity, is estimated to overtake that in the United States by 2020.

     All these bring me back to the Business of Design Week which Hong Kong is hosting today. There is no other place in the world enjoying the unique combination of advantages and opportunities as Hong Kong does. A new exciting chapter of economic development is unfolding before us. Whether you are a designer, entrepreneur, industrialist or a corporate leader, you should not miss this part of the world in your next business plan. And Hong Kong, as some of you know, offers many joys and excitements to your body and mind than simply the place for doing business.

     I congratulate the Hong Kong Design Centre, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, all the strategic partners, supporting bodies and sponsors for staging this important event in Hong Kong again at this timely juncture. And I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to all the speakers for their contributions. I wish you all a most enlightening and enjoyable experience. Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Issued at HKT 16:18