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LCQ11: Support provided for start-up enterprises which apply innovation and technology
     Following is a question by the Hon Wu Chi-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Nicholas W Yang, in the Legislative Council today (May 31):
     Regarding the support provided for start-up enterprises which apply innovation and technology (start-up enterprises), will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the various policy bureaux will, when conducting policy review or legislative work at present, assess issues relating to innovation and technology applications and consult the relevant parties of the innovation and technology industry; if so, whether the relevant consultation work is to be carried out by individual policy bureau or by the Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau in a consolidated manner; whether the authorities will review the existing practice in respect of consulting the relevant sector;
(2) whether it has grasped the information about start-up enterprises which are not set up in the Hong Kong Science Park or the Cyberport, as well as those which are not operating at any co-work space or under various incubation and acceleration programmes; if so, how the departments concerned collected such information; if not, whether it will consider collecting the information;
(3) whether the government departments concerned received in each of the past five years requests for assistance from start-up enterprises in relation to government policies or existing legislation hindering their development, and whether unlawful business activities or modes of operation were involved among them; if there are such requests, set out the information with a breakdown by the contents of the requests;
(4) of the current support provided by InvestHK for start-up enterprises; whether consultation services on government policies and legislation are included in its support to help start-up enterprises to operate lawfully; if not, of the policy bureaux and government departments currently responsible for providing such support, and whether the Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB) and the Innovation and Technology Commission under ITB currently provide such consultation services; if so, of the details; and
(5) whether ITB and relevant government departments have studied ways to prevent newly formulated government policies or newly enacted legislation from smothering the development of start-up enterprises, e.g. introducing an internal mechanism, by making reference to the requirement that a heritage impact assessment must be conducted for all new capital works projects, to require that an impact assessment on the development of innovation and technology must be conducted for new policies as and when necessary; if so, of the details; if not, whether they will conduct relevant studies?
     Having consulted the relevant policy bureaux and departments (B/Ds), our reply to the five parts of the question is as follows:
(1) and (5) All policy bureaux, when formulating policies or conducting legislative work in relation to their respective policy purview, shall consult relevant stakeholders, make a holistic consideration and balance all factors on the basis of the overall and long-term interests of the society. If matters pertaining to innovation and technology (I&T) application are involved, the Innovation and Technology Bureau will provide advice and support to relevant B/Ds.
     We note that certain I&T projects have brought about controversies around the world. As these projects often require adjustments of the existing ecosystem, involve a number of stakeholders and have extensive implications, governments and regulatory authorities worldwide are still studying these complex matters and have yet to come up with a unified solution. The relevant policy bureaux will make reference to the developments and experience in other regions in handling these matters and, according to the actual situation and needs of Hong Kong, consider the relevant measures. However, the rule of law is the core value of Hong Kong, and the development of any industry, including the I&T industry, must be done in a lawful manner.
     To promote I&T development in Hong Kong, the government has established the Committee on Innovation, Technology and Re-industrialisation, chaired by the Financial Secretary, to discuss and put forward appropriate development strategies and work priorities to enhance co-operation and co-ordination among stakeholders (including the industry) through a higher-level and inter-bureau approach.
(2) To track the growth of the start-up ecosystem, Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) has been conducting an annual survey since 2014 with operators of the major co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators in Hong Kong. The 2016 survey results showed that as at mid-2016, a total of 1 926 start-ups were operating at different co-working spaces, incubators or accelerator programmes across Hong Kong. InvestHK does not have the information on start-ups operating at locations other than the above-mentioned.
     Besides, the Innovation and Technology Commission has introduced the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities under the Innovation and Technology Fund to support university teams to establish technology start-ups to commercialise their research and development outcomes. When applying for the relevant funding, start-ups will provide their information to the relevant university and the Innovation and Technology Commission for the purpose of handling their funding application. As at end-March 2017, a total of 122 start-ups were funded.
     We will continue to study with relevant B/Ds how to collect more information about technology start-ups with a view to understanding their operations in Hong Kong.
(3) According to the records of the Innovation and Technology Bureau, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the Home Affairs Bureau and the Transport and Housing Bureau, the bureaux do not have cases requesting for assistance from start-ups in relation to existing government policies or legislation hindering their development.
(4) According to information provided by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, to assist foreign start-ups which have interest in setting up in Hong Kong, InvestHK provides a wide range of professional support and practical information, including providing information on the regulatory regime for their particular business, providing guidance on visa application, signposting them to relevant Government funding schemes, providing bank contacts and introducing them to ecosystem stakeholders, etc.
     If InvestHK is approached by start-ups regarding Government policies or regulations, InvestHK will, depending on the circumstances of the case, seek information from the relevant B/Ds or if necessary, help line up cross-departmental meetings with the start-up concerned so that the start-up can take into account the requirements of the relevant Government policies or regulations when mapping out its business plan and implementation details. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the start-ups, as business operators, to ensure regulatory compliance.
     The Innovation and Technology Bureau and its Innovation and Technology Commission do not have any regular mechanism to provide consultation services on government policies and legislation to start-ups. If such enquiries are received, we will refer the cases to relevant B/Ds for handling.
Ends/Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:50
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