HK rejects call for games development fund

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 September, 2009, 12:00am

The government has rejected the gaming industry's call to establish a fund to invest in games development, preferring to focus on cultivating the industry as a whole.

However, funding help may be available from a different quarter: a Cyberport funding scheme offering up to HK$100,000 for a winning start-up project in digital innovation may expand after its pilot project ends in March.

Commerce and economic development deputy secretary Alan Siu Yu-bun, acting head of CreateHK, said the government's policy was to assist the industry's market development. There was no plan to create a fund like the Film Development Fund, which invested directly in film projects, he said on radio.

A new clause had been added to the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa) to help the computer game industry to develop the mainland market, he said. Cepa's sixth supplement, which goes into effect tomorrow, sets a two-month time limit for officials to examine the contents of imported online game products developed in Hong Kong.

He said CreateHK, an office set up to drive the growth of the creative economy, would invite proposals for the revitalisation of the former Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters by turning it into a cluster for creative industries. It was intended to be operated by non-governmental organisations and to have retail and dining facilities.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Yang Wai-hung, chief executive of Hong Kong Cyberport Management, said he hoped the new Cyberport Creative Micro Fund, into which the firm had put HK$500,000 to be awarded to five start-ups in digital creative innovation, would be a success.

Yang said the initial concept was to pay out HK$5 million, but a more cautious route was taken involving the pilot scheme. But he said the project would last beyond the trial.

Cyberport's head of information technology operations, Dr David Chung Wai-keung, said he hoped the results of the pilot scheme, which ends in March, would determine whether the fund could be expanded.

Yang said Cyberport's IncuTrain Centre, which provides two-year rent-free office space and support for start-ups, had already 'incubated' 76 companies specialising in creative digital businesses, ranging from online network platforms to Xbox console games.

Centre manager Albert Cheng Lau-fong said they had received 145 applications and accepted 76 over the past four years. Forty companies had graduated from the centre and 26 were operating there.