More cash for young creative talents

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2012, 12:00am


More resources are to be allocated to cultivating young design talent and promoting creative skills to take advantage of the city's new creative cluster.

The cluster is at the former police married quarters in Hollywood Road, Central, which is being transformed into a hub for creative industries.

The Design Centre, a not-for-profit body set up in 2001 and a partner in the Hollywood Road plan, said it hoped to use the new government financing to help talented young people who could one day work at the hub. The Design Centre wants the money to help teach business skills while developing creative abilities.

The centre intends to put the money towards the Design Incubation Programme (DIB), and take over running it. The DIB currently supports design start-ups at the InnoCentre in Kowloon Tong.

The DIB was created in 2006 and had been run by the Science Park, but the initial HK$33.5 million financing is expected to run out next month.

The Legislative Council's finance committee will consider a proposal to switch the DIB to the Design Centre and grant an extra HK$26.25 million over five years for its operation, on top of HK$15.85 million from the government-funded DesignSmart Initiative that has already been earmarked for the DIB. The initiative provides financing for young designers' innovative projects.

Dr Edmund Lee Tak-yue, executive director of the Design Centre, said the DIB's duration and level of subsidy would remain unchanged, but the programme would involve more than cheap offices. Start-up businesses currently receive up to one year's free rent and a 50 per cent discount for their second year.

'In the past the programme focused on the number of [businesses involved], but we want them to survive in the long run,' Lee said. The relaunched DIB would offer more structured, possibly mandatory, training in business skills, he said.

Lee said details of how the DIB would be linked to the new creative hub were yet to be finalised. But he sees raw design talent developing through incubation, while more established brands continue their growth at the creative cluster.

Some 53 businesses have graduated from the DIB in the past five years, and together they have won more than 50 awards and created more than 300 jobs.

The new financing would support 60 more start-ups.

Young designers welcomed the move to improve business-skills training and said they hoped the Design Centre would show more understanding of their professional needs.

But the requirement that businesses taking part in the DIB have at least one full-time staff member is too stringent for some.

'Having a full-time employee means that I will have to pay their Mandatory Provident Fund contributions. This is not easy. I have no business partner either,' up-and-coming fashion designer Carrie Chan Ka-li said. She is considering applying for the DIB after founding her label,, last May.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced in his budget last month that the Design Centre would receive HK$100 million over the next few years for its operations.

Lee said the cash would allow it to operate its two signature events, the Business of Design Week and the Design Centre Awards.

According to the Census and Statistics Department, cultural and creative industries contributed HK$77.6 billion directly to the economy in 2010. The design sector accounted for HK$2.9 billion, compared with HK$1 billion in 2005.

The Musketeers Education and Culture Charitable Foundation won the right to develop the former police married quarters in 2010, and will work on it with the Design Centre and Polytechnic University.


Number of studios to be created, by 2014 in the two 60-year-old blocks in Hollywood Road, along with galleries, shops and restaurants