Support Start‑ups and Technology Investments
53. The I&T ecosystem in Hong Kong has become increasingly vibrant. The number of start‑ups surged from around 1 000 in 2014 to around 4 000 last year; and the amount of venture capital investment surged from $1.24 billion to about $41.7 billion in the same period. Currently, Hong Kong is Asia's largest and the world's second-largest fundraising hub for biotechnology.
54. In recent years, the Government and local universities have allocated considerable resources to nurture start‑ups and assist research teams comprising students and professors in commercialising their research and development (R&D) results. The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) and the Cyberport, our two I&T flagships, provide one‑stop support services for start‑ups. So far, we have witnessed the birth and development of over 10 unicorns.
55. Over the past few years, apart from the $2 billion Innovation and Technology Venture Fund, we have also set up the Corporate Venture Fund and the Cyberport Macro Fund through the HKSTPC and the Cyberport respectively. Each of these funds has its own specific key areas of investment, which has significantly broadened the fundraising channel for start‑ups in Hong Kong.
56. Nevertheless, as the funds mentioned above are mainly targeted at early‑stage start‑ups, they may not be suitable for expanding enterprises with considerable scale. Some such type of enterprises often have huge development potential. Indeed, we are not short of examples of success in nurturing these enterprises in Hong Kong.
57. I announced in my Budget two years ago the setting up of an investment portfolio named the Hong Kong Growth Portfolio using part of the Future Fund for investment in projects with a "Hong Kong nexus". The aim is to consolidate Hong Kong's status as a financial, commercial and I&T centre as well as to raise our productivity and competitiveness in the long run. Last year, the Government appointed eight fund managers as general partners to make strategic investment. To nurture enterprises that are relatively more mature and have good potential for contribution to our economy, I will further increase the funding allocated to the Hong Kong Growth Portfolio under the Future Fund by $10 billion, of which $5 billion will be used to set up a new investment fund, namely the Strategic Tech Fund. I will invite the HKSTPC and the Cyberport to identify technology enterprises which are of strategic value to Hong Kong as well as investment opportunities conducive to enriching the I&T ecosystem.
58. On the other hand, the Technology Start‑up Support Scheme for Universities under the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) has been supporting universities in setting up their own start‑ups and commercialising their R&D results, with a view to creating economic value. To help universities realise their R&D outcomes, I will double the amount of subsidy to $16 million. The increased subsidy will be provided to start‑ups of universities with private investments on a matching basis of one to one. Each start‑up may receive an annual subsidy of up to $1.5 million for a maximum of three years. The initiative will incur an additional expenditure of $48 million per year.
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