Government can do more to help local ICT companies expand

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 February, 2016, 5:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 February, 2016, 5:32pm

Hong Kong has finally launched strategic initiatives in the important area of innovation technology, through the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau and policies announced in Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s last full-term policy address.

While strategic plans towards enhancing facilities and resources for conducting local R&D, supporting information and communications technology (ICT) start-ups, propelling the development of smart city or well positioning Hong Kong in the “One Belt, One Road”, are encouraging, the government needs to further take tangible action and address areas of ICT talent cultivation and actualising innovation.

While we welcome the Applied Research Fund, Cyberport Macro Fund, Innovation and Technology Venture Fund and Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living, we look forward to further details regarding their respective granting criteria.

Similarly, we should back government efforts to revitalise Hong Kong with high valued and high tech-based manufacturing, an aggressive plan to double free Wi-fi hot spots, and an Open Data project for public and private sectors. However, enhancing infrastructure and hardware is not going to unleash Hong Kong’s full potential.

A talent shortage in the ICT sector is a huge obstacle to being able to successfully develop Hong Kong as a knowledge-based society. The government, which has failed to address this urgency, needs to provide immediate support to the training and cultivation of ICT talents and skills which are in great demand by all disciplines, industries and sectors.

While the strategic focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education is much appreciated and helpful to our future, in the near and medium term, emphasis on ICT human talent has not been given the level of support provided to, for example, the aviation industry, or the finance and insurance sector.

Finally, we hope to see an important strategic preference shown to local ICT-related companies, especially our start-ups, with the government’s procurement of ICT products and services that are conceived, designed and produced in Hong Kong.

This initiative would provide, as it does in many other economies, the impetus for effective recognition, product and service verification and credible reference for our ICT companies and would enable them to expand globally.

Michael Leung, president, Hong Kong Computer Society