THE ability to use technology is more important than being an established company with a recognised name, says Hon Wai-chun, Associate Professor at City University of Hong Kong and principal consultant to Resource Technologies Limited. The 10 employee-strong Resource Technologies Ltd (RTL) has beaten stiff competition from established hi-tech companies from around the world to win important computer software development contracts. RTL is to provide software systems that will make the allocation of check-in desks at Kai Tak airport more effective, increase the frequency of MTR trains and improve the handling of air cargo. 'I believe that this is the first time that a company like ours has been able to achieve this,' Mr Hon said. RTL is one of the latest hi-tech companies to join the Hong Kong Industrial Technology Centre's incubation programme and is able to take advantage of the assistance the scheme offers new ventures. According to RTL's business manager, Yvonne Ng, joining the incubation programme has given RTL a lot of credibility. 'In order to be admitted, the company had to prove that it could contribute significantly to the technological growth of Hong Kong and show that there was a sound business plan. 'The fact that our company had to be reviewed and approved by HKITC's board of directors has greatly increased the confidence our clients have in us and the visibility of RTL as a whole,' she said. Ms Ng believes the HKITC has proved advanced technology and skills can be found locally but considers the three-year 'incubation period' optimistic. 'Nurturing the growth of a hi-tech company that is local to Hong Kong is not easy, especially when Hong Kong people traditionally turn to overseas companies in search of advanced technology,' she said. RTL designs and develops software systems that allocate and schedule valuable corporate resources, such as manufacturing machines, robots, cranes, hoists and vehicles. Mr Hon said: 'Many of the problems that we have to solve are constraint based. We use ILOG object-oriented intelligent software components which come from an award-winning French company.' RTL is a business partner and sole distributor for ILOG software in Hong Kong. Andy Chun, a consultant with RTL, said: 'We are excited to be pioneering a new market. A scheduling problem that previously took three hours to solve in PROLOG on a high-end UNIX workstation can now be resolved in 17 seconds on a pentium-based PC using constraint-based programming.' When the MTR installed an automatic train control system to allow more trains to operate on each line, it became almost impossible for a human scheduler to generate a workable schedule to dispatch trains from the depot fast enough to feed the lines. RTL, working with City University, designed and developed a scheduling system that automatically generates a train timetable in minutes and allows trains to be dispatched and returned based on desired train headway. It was a project never before attempted because of the complexity of the constraints. RTL and City University also developed a system that has enabled the limited number of check-in counters at Kai Tak to be allocated fairly and efficiently to airlines and handling agents. With the growing number of passengers passing through the airport, an automated solution was needed. RTL also produced a prototype system to handle air cargo at Kai Tak and a version for the new Super Terminal 1 at Chek Lap Kok.