Besides funding, the government pledged to open up more data and further develop one of Hong Kong’s tech hubs
In his first policy address since the Hong Kong government launched its Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB) last fall, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (CY Leung) announced today multiple investment initiatives aimed at the city’s tech community.
The largest fund is a HKD2 billion (US$258 million) aimed at matching private VC investments to “encourage investment from venture capital funds in local innovation and technology start-ups”.
Furthermore, rousing thoughts of Singapore, Leung said Hong Kong will pursue a ‘Smart City’ initiative which includes a HKD500-million (US$64.4 million) Innovation and Technology Fund for a Better Living.
The fund will be used to finance technology projects encompassing — amongst others — communication, transportation, healthcare, education, the environment, public order, consumer spending and food safety.
“Innovation and technology can improve our everyday life in a wide range of aspects,” he said, according to a transcript of the speech.
Through the ‘Smart City’ initiative, Hong Kong will proliferate the city with 34,000 free public Wi-Fi hotspots over the next three years. One interesting location cited for free Wi-Fi was public rental housing.
In collaboration with numerous local universities and research facilities, the Hong Kong government will allocate HKD100 million (US$12.9 million) to research and development through 16 Partner State Key Laboratories.
While discussing R&D, Leung stressed the importance of building a close relationship with mainland China — a topic becoming ever more politically sensitive in Hong Kong.
“In addition to attracting top research and development institutions from around the world, we can more proactively seek cooperation opportunities with the Mainland at both national and local levels,” he said.
Leung dedicated a significant portion of the address to the development of Hong Kong’s two major startup/tech hubs: Cyberport and Science Park. Neither development has taken off as the city had hoped in large part because both facilities are quite far from the city center and even farther away from one another.
Today, Leung announced a HKD200 million (US$25.8 million) Cyberport Macro-fund to invest in information and communication technology startups.
Science Park’s investment will come via infrastructure development as the government plans to increase the gross floor area by 70,000 square metres over the next few years.
The final important point from the address was the ITB is going to review and formulate policies on data releases. If the agency remains honest to today’s rhetoric it should mean more data will be available to the public to build apps or technology that can improve the city.
“The Government will continue to encourage public service bodies and commercial organisations to open up more data,” he said.
Image Credit: Kevin McSpadden
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