HK has to pull its socks up in innovation: Choi

Updated: 2018-03-14 06:52

By Zhou Mo in Beijing(HK Edition)

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CPPCC member urges SAR to do more to promote interest in innovation

Hong Kong's pluralistic social environment creates an ideal condition for developing the innovation and technology industry, but more has to be done to fuel enthusiasm among its people, says Jonathan Choi Koon-shum, a member of the country's top political advisory body.

Hong Kong people's enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and innovation lags far behind that in Shenzhen, where hundreds of thousands of young people have taken the plunge in the sector after Premier Li Keqiang vowed to provide more support for them, according to Choi, a Hong Kong member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

"Many people on the mainland have responded to the government's call. In Hong Kong, young people are not that responsive," Choi told China Daily in an interview in Beijing on the sidelines of the annual two sessions.

"Of course, some have embarked on the adventure. But, a hot wave in entrepreneurship and innovation in Hong Kong is still far off," said Choi, who's also chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce based in Hong Kong.

However, Choi said, he's "very positive" about the city's future in the sector.

HK has to pull its socks up in innovation: Choi

Hong Kong is a diversified society where different thoughts gather, he said. "This is exactly where its advantage lies. It's in such an environment that new and innovative ideas can easily be created, pushing technological development and innovation."

He said the special administrative region government is striving to promote the atmosphere, and the city has the potential to take the lead when more people take part.

In Hong Kong, it's normal for graduates to land a job in finance, law or other industries in which the city excels, and earn a stable and decent salary. But, due to land shortage and the high living costs, setting up a business in Hong Kong is seen as a highly risky move with a minimal chance of success.

To ease such worries and create a more favorable climate for entrepreneurs and innovators, the Hong Kong government has been pouring in great resources, building up infrastructure and providing the necessary funding.

In his 2018-19 Budget speech last month, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po pledged to allocate an additional HK$50 billion in the next financial year to lift the innovation and technology industry - five times more than a year earlier.

Of the amount, HK$20 billion would be used for the first phase of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park to be built in the Lok Ma Chau Loop.

Choi said Hong Kong and Shenzhen are not competitors, but partners, which can help each other in the field.

"Both cities have their own strengths. They can complement each other by forming a complete chain covering research and development, commercialization and funding," he said.

He reckoned that global talents would prefer to settle down in Hong Kong, which offers a more internationalized environment. When they develop their careers there and businesses grow bigger, they would want to commercialize their products and services.

Shenzhen, with a sound industrial chain, would help. When investors want to fund their business, they can turn to Hong Kong through initial public offerings, he added.

HK has to pull its socks up in innovation: Choi

(HK Edition 03/14/2018 page6)