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Speech by S for IT at Times Higher Education Innovation & Impact Summit (English only) (with photo)
     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Nicholas W Yang, at the Times Higher Education Innovation & Impact Summit today (June 1):

Tim (President of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Professor Timothy Tong), Phil (Editorial Director, Global Rankings, Times Higher Education, Mr Phil Baty), Mr Chen (Founder of the Yidan Prize and Co-founder of Tencent Holdings Limited, Mr Charles Chen), distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. Welcome to the Times Higher Education Innovation & Impact Summit 2017.

     I am delighted to join the Summit again this year. First of all I would like to offer my warm welcome to all the overseas guests. I hope you will enjoy your stay in our wonderful city, Hong Kong.

     Last year, when I attended the Summit, I was thrilled to see the candid and fluid exchange of views on how universities could nurture creativity and innovation.
     On this occasion, I would now like to share with you the goals and challenges of the Innovation and Technology Bureau. Since its establishment in November 2015, my team and I have been pressing ahead with full steam to promote the development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong, taking advantage of our unique position over our competitors. We have the combined advantages of "one country, two systems", strategic location in the Asia-Pacific region, proximity to the huge Mainland market, robust intellectual property protection, a sound legal system with independent judiciary, world-class research, information technology infrastructure and financial system, and last but not least, our excellent university education - which nurture creative talents and foster knowledge transfer by bringing out the very best of our young generation through well-structured curriculum, cross-disciplinary exposure and value-added internship or training programmes.

     Hong Kong is home to world-class universities and researchers. In terms of teaching and research achievements, the high academic and research standards of universities in Hong Kong count as one of the very best in the Asia-Pacific region. Six of our universities are ranked top 50 under the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2017. At the 45th International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva, a major global event dedicated to innovation and invention, Hong Kong participating teams won 57 commendations with flying colours. We were ranked as the world's most competitive economy in 2016 and as announced last night also in 2017 by the World Competitiveness Yearbook for six years. According to Compass, a US-based research corporation, Hong Kong is ranked among the top five fastest growing start-up ecosystems and one of the world's top 25 start-up hubs.

     Innovation and technology are firmly on the top policy agenda of Hong Kong Government. We are determined to transform Hong Kong into a knowledge-based economy and an innovation hub for technology, thereby creating more convenience and comfort in our day-to-day life, and in the macro perspective, driving the transformation of our economy, developing high value-added industries and creating diversified employment opportunities for our young generation.

     The key roles of the Innovation and Technology Bureau are to facilitate and to connect. As a facilitator, we will provide the initial resources to kick-start a vibrant innovation and technology ecosystem for the stakeholders, namely the industry, academia, research and business sectors, to drive innovation and technology in Hong Kong. As a connector, we connect both the local and overseas stakeholders with a view to creating synergies. Hong Kong is also the "super-connector" to the Mainland and the rest of the world, promoting collaboration in innovation and technology with other economies. This applies not only to financial services, trade and culture, but also to science, innovation and technology as well.

     We have been working hard to upgrade Hong Kong's innovation and technology ecosystem. In this regard, the Government has invested more than $18 billion, and reserved an additional $10 billion to promote innovation and technology development here in Hong Kong. These include, inter alia, reinforcing research and development (R&D) in our higher education institutions, nurturing talents to inspire young people who are interested in innovation and technology, promoting re-industrialisation, providing infrastructure facilities for technology enterprises and start-ups, introducing funding support for small and medium enterprises to upgrade and transform their businesses via technology, and strengthening various measures that benefit the general public through building a connected smart city.

     Among our many top work priorities, one is to augment the pool of innovation and technology talents, and inspire the younger generation to pursue a career in innovation and technology, thereby enhancing the competitiveness of Hong Kong. University certainly plays a pivotal role in this direction. In fact, the success of Hong Kong innovation and technology development largely hinges on the achievement of our universities - how they nurture our young people, enable them to flourish, and unleash their potential in innovation and scientific research; how they transfer the knowledge and translate their research results into market products that the general public can enjoy; how they re-tool the technopreneurs for their further advancement; as well as how their scientific research gathers momentum and enhances cross-sectoral collaboration. To help achieve these goals, the Government is determined to step up its efforts in helping our universities through the following means.

     Other than Innovation and Technology Fund and University-Industry Collaboration Programme, the Government has launched the $2 billion Midstream Research Programme to encourage universities to conduct more applied research to facilitate downstream research or product development. In addition, the Government is also exploring an alternative and more flexible funding source outside the scope of University Grants Committee. A review will be conducted on the allocation of research grants and expanding the assessment criteria to include research impact and effectiveness of knowledge transfer.

     To accelerate knowledge transfer, the Government and the universities jointly encourage the academic staff to conduct applied research work and form start-up companies to commercialise their inventions. Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities provides an annual funding of $24 million to six local universities to support technology businesses and commercialisation of R&D results. The business areas of these technology start-ups mainly cover information and communication technology, biotechnology, electronics, nanotechnology and material science. Since the inception of the scheme about three years ago, 122 technology start-ups have been funded, with the amount of funding at approximately $66 million. As a reinforcement measure, the Government extended the funding of up to $4 million to each of the six local universities to enhance the capabilities of their technology transfer offices.

     To nurture talents to work in the innovation and technology sector, the Government has formulated a long-term education plan last year to groom talent at a young age, as well as enhanced school curriculum to emphasise science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), through issuance of Report on Promotion of STEM Education - Unleashing Potential in Innovation, which provided recommendations for promoting STEM education in primary and secondary schools. The Government has also commenced a consultancy study on the feasibility of drawing up a talent list in a more effective manner to attract high-quality talent to support Hong Kong's development as a high value-added and diversified economy. We expect the findings to be available later this year.

     Our role as connector is fully demonstrated by the fact that renowned Mainland and overseas organisations are attracted to Hong Kong. With top-notch research institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Karolinska Institutet and the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health establishing their presence in our city, we look forward to them providing world-class scientific knowledge to our budding scientists and researchers. To further connect Hong Kong with world-renowned universities, research institutions and government agencies, we have also entered into Memoranda of Understanding with Israel, Region Skane of Sweden and Austria respectively.

     Looking forward, Hong Kong is always ready to rise up to challenges with commitment, determination and perseverance. With dedicated efforts from the Government and all stakeholders, I am sure that we can shape the future of Hong Kong's innovation and technology development together.

     Last but not least, I would like to thank the Times Higher Education for organising such a meaningful event in Hong Kong again, and also the Polytechnic University for hosting this year's Summit. I wish the Summit every success.

     Thank you very much. 
Ends/Thursday, June 1, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:45
Today's Press Releases  


The Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Nicholas W Yang, addresses the Times Higher Education Innovation & Impact Summit today (June 1).