139. In recent years, we have sought to create an environment that facilitates the development of innovation and technology. We shall strengthen our efforts in four areas in the coming year.
140. Firstly, for providing world-class research infrastructure, Hong Kong Science Park Phase 3 development, costing $4.9 billion, has commenced. The expansion will increase the floor area of Hong Kong Science Park by 50 per cent to 330 000 square metres and create 4 000 scientific research-related jobs. The first batch of new buildings is scheduled for completion in early 2014.
141. The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) will continue to revitalise the three industrial estates. We shall also invite the HKSTPC to explore the feasibility of expanding the Yuen Long Industrial Estate by about 16 hectares. To meet the needs for long-term development of the high-tech industry, we shall continue to identify sites for the sustainable development of Hong Kong Science Park and industrial estates.
142. Last year’s Budget highlighted the importance of data centres to Hong Kong. The Policy Address announced that two hectares of land in Tseung Kwan O had been reserved for the development of data centres, and that consideration would be given to the use of industrial buildings for data centres. To ensure early provision of land for more data centres to be set up in Hong Kong, we shall implement two time-limited measures in 2012-13. First, we shall exempt the waiver fees for using certain floors of eligible industrial buildings as data centres. In addition, where lease modification is required for the development of an industrial lot into a high-tier data centre, the Government will assess the premium based on the use of the site as a high-tier data centre. We shall announce the implementation details in due course.
143. Secondly, for promoting collaboration with the Mainland, we shall encourage more local research and development (R&D) institutions and research personnel to take part in national science and technology programmes, and nominate Hong Kong experts for the National Science and Technology Programmes Expert Database. We shall also start a new round of application exercise for Partner State Key Laboratories.
144. Thirdly, we launched the R&D Cash Rebate Scheme in April 2010 to provide financial assistance to applied R&D projects and encourage co-operation between enterprises and local R&D institutions. By the end of last year, the Scheme had benefited nearly 270 enterprises. To enhance the effectiveness of the Scheme, we propose a threefold increase in the level of cash rebate under the Scheme for enterprises’ qualified R&D projects, from 10 per cent to 30 per cent.
145. To support the R&D activities of SMEs, we propose to enhance the Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Programme (SERAP) under the Innovation and Technology Fund by increasing the funding ceiling for each project under the SERAP from $4 million to $6 million. We shall also refine the operational details of the Programme and expand its scope of funding.
146. Fourthly, to nurture a culture of innovation, the Internship Programme under the Innovation and Technology Fund encourages universities, enterprises and R&D centres to employ local university graduates to participate in R&D. In the past three years, over 800 internships were provided under the Programme. To inspire more young people to engage in R&D, we shall increase the monthly allowance for each intern by nearly 20 per cent.