Speech by CE at Asia Summit on Global Health (English only) (with photos/video)
Secretary Yu Yanhong (Party Group Member of the National Health Commission cum Party Secretary of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine), Deputy Director Yin Zonghua (Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region), Dr Peter Lam (Chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. I am pleased to welcome you all to Hong Kong and to the third Asia Summit on Global Health.
Less than two weeks ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end to the classification of COVID-19 as a "public health emergency of international concern".
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc around the globe over the past three years or so, demonstrated graphically and comprehensively the critical importance of global health co-operation.
Thanks to the persistent and innovative efforts of healthcare workers, scientists, institutions and individuals around the world, from implementing public health measures to developing new treatments and vaccines, the global emergency has finally ended.
Here in Hong Kong, and throughout the world, life, and business, is returning to normal.
We certainly felt relieved when the WHO Director-General announced that COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency of international concern. But this does not mean that the virus is gone forever. We need to remain ready to respond speedily to different public health threats.
In a moment, the WHO Director-General, will address our audience by video. Over these next two days, the Summit will also present the intelligence, insight and inspiration of a host of internationally prominent medical and healthcare specialists, academics, business and technology innovators and a great many other professionals.
The Hong Kong SAR Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, as organisers of this Summit, have gathered over 90 speakers to help us, and to help the world, in that most complex of social, institutional and governmental undertakings – "Reimagining the Future of Healthcare", as the timely theme of our Summit so aptly puts it.
Over the next couple of minutes, allow me to update you on Hong Kong's healthcare progress, and the healthcare policies and initiatives we are developing, with a particular focus on the power of innovation, technology and research in shaping our healthcare system and its future.
Under the "one country, two systems" principle, Hong Kong is bestowed with the unique advantage of having the strong support of national strategies, while maintaining unrivalled connectivity with the world. The National 14th Five-Year Plan supports Hong Kong's development as an international innovation and technology (I&T) hub, emphasising such emerging disciplines in the country as life and health sciences.
We are also capitalising on our growing connectivity within the Greater Bay Area, the cluster-city development integrating Hong Kong and 10 other cities in southern China.
Hong Kong has strong research capabilities in life and health sciences, as well as in fundamental research and development (R&D).
We are home to five of the world's top 100 universities, two of the world's leading 40 medical schools and a wealth of award-winning scholars and researchers. Different Hong Kong clinical trial centres are recognised by the National Medical Products Administration of China.
Thanks to our R&D intelligence and infrastructure, along with the funding and commitment of the Hong Kong SAR Government, Hong Kong is on its way to becoming a world-class centre for medical research and development.
Hong Kong also boasts a thriving biotech community, which supports the expansion of tech-driven life and health start-ups. Indeed, Hong Kong is now one of the world's largest fundraising hub for biotech companies.
At the end of March, 56 pre-revenue, pre-profit biotech companies had listed here, raising nearly 15 billion US Dollars.
The Hong Kong SAR Government attaches great importance to enhancing Hong Kong's research capability and supporting its software and hardware development.
Our "software" support includes attracting prominent researchers from all over the world. They are here conducting impactful research with local universities and institutions.
For instance, we have launched the InnoHK Research Clusters which include a dedicated cluster on healthcare-related technology, namely Health@InnoHK. The InnoHK clusters bring together 28 research labs and some 2,000 researchers from 12 economies and world-class institutions.
Our Government Budget this year set aside 6 billion Hong Kong Dollars, equivalent to nearly 800 million US Dollars, to subsidise universities and institutions in setting up life and health technology research institutes. The goal is creating cross-institutional and multi-disciplinary research co-operation to better realise transformative outcomes related to life and health technology.
We have also earmarked 10 billion Hong Kong Dollars, or 1.28 billion US Dollars, for a programme called the Research, Academic and Industry Sectors One-plus Scheme. This RAISe+ Scheme will fund, on a matching basis, at least 100 university research teams with clear potential to become flourishing start-ups.
We are determined to boost collaboration among our academic, research and industry sectors. I am confident that our efforts will help drive the commercialisation of our R&D outcomes, including those targeting life and health technology.
As for "hardware" support, the Government is developing the Hong Kong-Shenzhen I&T Park, which will become Hong Kong's largest-ever I&T platform. Life and health technology will be among the Park's priorities.
Initiatives include the setting up of an InnoLife Healthtech Hub, which will pool research teams, including the Health@InnoHK labs mentioned, from Hong Kong, the Mainland of China and all over the world for research collaboration on life and health disciplines.
Hong Kong is equally committed to supporting academic research to boost our competitiveness.
Our funding support for the Research Endowment Fund has now reached 46 billion Hong Kong Dollars, or some 6 billion US Dollars. This will support research projects, collaborative research funding schemes and longer-term research of strategic value to Hong Kong's development.
We have also launched a Research Matching Grant Scheme, worth 3 billion Hong Kong Dollars, or nearly 400 million US Dollars, to diversify our funding sources for research activities.
Our Global STEM Professorship Scheme supports universities in their recruitment of internationally renowned I&T scholars and their teams. We want them here, conducting research and teaching the next generation of Hong Kong scientists, researchers and innovators.
At last November's Summit, I mentioned boosting the number of publicly funded research postgraduate places by almost 30 per cent to help our universities expand their research capacity and support Hong Kong's I&T development.
We have made good progress since then, I'm pleased to say. More than 1,600 publicly funded research postgraduate places will progressively materialise, beginning with the 2023-24 academic year.
In short, ladies and gentlemen, the Hong Kong SAR Government, working together with our R&D and I&T institutions, businesses and professionals, is committed to building a more resilient and sustainable global health system.
This Summit, I'm confident, will move us all along in the right direction, a shared determination to build the highest, most inclusive, standard of health and prosperity we can offer our economies, our societies and our communities.
May I express my gratitude to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council for organising this high-profile, global health summit together with the Hong Kong SAR Government.
The Summit is, let me add, one of major events taking place under the umbrella of International Healthcare Week.
They include the 14th edition of the Hong Kong International Medical and Healthcare Fair, showcasing the latest offerings of more than 300 exhibitors from such places as Hong Kong, the Mainland of China, Japan and North America. Highlighted exhibitor zones include biotech, hospital equipment, rehabilitation and elderly care, a world of health and wellness and a great deal more.
It's all happening, right here in Hong Kong, to help you reimagine the future of healthcare. In a Hong Kong that has resumed its stability and is regaining momentum for long-term prosperity. In a Hong Kong that is taking the centre stage of the global arena again.
On that note, ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all a very rewarding Summit and the best of business, and health, in the coming year. Thank you.
Ends/Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Issued at HKT 10:46
Issued at HKT 10:46
Audio / Video
CE attends Asia Summit on Global Health