Financial Secretary Paul Chan
The Government, to be sure, is doing its part in this testing time. Since the beginning of the year, we have made available more than $300 billion through my Budget and the three rounds of the Anti-epidemic Fund.
Through the fund, we launched a $1.5 billion Distance Business Programme. It helps companies adopt IT solutions to support their business and services during the epidemic.
The programme received overwhelming response, with more than 38,000 applications in less than six months.
We are also funding public sector research and development trials targeting COVID-19 prevention and control under the Public Sector Trial Scheme. More than 60 projects have been approved, with total funding exceeding $102 million. The trials have begun and I am hopeful that the wider adoption of technology in the public sector will lead to more business opportunities for our technology companies.
In short, COVID-19 only underscores the central policy priority we have placed on innovation and technology. In the past three years, the Government has devoted over $100 billion to a great variety of I&T programmes and initiatives. They range from infrastructure provision and research and development to investment funding and talent development.
And the role of I&T will become much more important, given the newly announced National 14th Five‑Year Plan. It puts technology at the heart of our country’s sustainable social and economic development, with innovation a key driver in quality growth. Self-reliance in science and technology will become a strategic pillar underpinning our national development.
For us, that means expediting plans to build the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area into an international I&T hub. It means boosting our technological collaboration with other cities in the bay area, particularly Shenzhen.
The good news is that we are well on our way to doing that. The bay area cluster-city development is committed to becoming a leading international I&T hub, and Hong Kong will help realise that ambitious goal.
The emerging Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation & Technology Park – a significant investment in Hong Kong’s long-term I&T development – will play a critical role in making it happen. Together with the Shenzhen Innovation & Technology Zone across the boundary, the area will create a central base for regional, and global, co-operation in scientific research.
There’s more, much more, in the high-tech works. Our first two research technology clusters at Science Park, one focused on artificial intelligence and robotics, the other on healthcare technologies, are attracting high-profile research and technology players from all over the world. And that can raise Hong Kong’s global I&T standing.
No less important, it will help enhance the competitiveness of our industries through collaboration and the technological adoption it promises.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan gave these remarks at the Impact Conference 2020 on November 11.