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Budget Speech

Innovation and Technology Industry

55.    To tie in with economic restructuring, even knowledge-based and high value-added industries need to progress with the times.  Pursuing innovation and making good use of technology will not only facilitate development of industries, but also help raise the productivity of all sectors.

56.    Government aims to provide an enabling environment and proper financial support for universities, research and development (R&D) organisations and industry to conduct research and commercialise their innovations.  In 2012, Hong Kong's total R&D expenditure amounted to around $15 billion, of which more than half came from the public sector.  We shall accelerate technology transfer of upstream R&D results to translate more innovations into commercialised midstream and downstream R&D products or services.

57.    The Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) has been supporting applied R&D and is constantly being refined to nurture an environment conducive to innovation and technology in Hong Kong.  Established 15 years ago, the ITF has funded more than 3 600 projects with about $8 billion.  To further enhance the application and commercialisation of R&D results, we shall introduce two new measures –

(a) setting up an Enterprise Support Scheme (ESS) to replace the Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Programme. The ESS will provide funding support for R&D activities of private sector companies, irrespective of size, with the funding ceiling for each project raised from $6 million to $10 million. While the recipient company must bear at least half of the cost, it may retain all the intellectual property rights of the project; and
(b) extending the scope of funding to development work and system integration, industrial design, compliance testing and clinical trials. This will render stronger support to downstream R&D and commercialisation activities, allowing full exploitation of the technological edge of local industries.

58.    These two measures are intended to further boost R&D investments and commercialisation activities among private companies at home and attract those from abroad to bring their R&D departments to our city, hence creating a more diversified ecology for innovation and technology.

59.    I am happy to see the mushrooming of start-ups in Hong Kong over the last few years.  Although no new business could guarantee success, more favourable environment will certainly help translate more new ideas into business opportunities.

60.    Government will create a better ecological environment for technology start-ups in collaboration with local R&D institutions and universities.  The ITF will provide an annual funding of up to $24 million to the six designated universities to provide seed money for R&D projects that they recommend, encouraging their students and teachers to start downstream R&D businesses and commercialise their R&D results.

61.    The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, Cyberport and Hong Kong Design Centre will continue to provide various incubation programmes and support services for the start-ups, such as shared workspace, business knowledge training, business liaison and interflow, and investment matching activities.  All these aim to help start-ups tide over the difficulties encountered in the initial stage of their business and grow further.  The "StartmeupHK" portal of Invest Hong Kong provides start-ups with an information and exchange platform.  To cater for innovation and technology start-ups in particular, Government will soon launch an interactive portal to pool stakeholders in the start-up ecosystem to promote their inventions and innovations to attract funding.

62.    The Chief Executive, in his Policy Address, proposed to set up an Innovation and Technology Bureau as a centralised body to co-ordinate and promote innovation and technology policy.  The proposal is widely supported by the industry, and I look forward to its early implementation.



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