James Liu talks of core competencies, incubation programmes and transfers. He thinks technology. And, he is responsible for making sure that Hong Kong does as well. For the first time, the Awards for Industry included a technological achievement category, which Dr Liu said was a good vehicle for promoting technology in the SAR. 'The award's selection process is good for the community because it forces people to think about the importance of technology, to look at what they are doing,' he said. Mr Liu, who is CEO of the Hong Kong Industrial Technology Centre Corporation (HKITCC), asked: 'For example, do they pay attention to the number of patents they have; do they pay attention to the value of patents which they can exchange with other companies; do they pay attention to the engineers in their company; are engineers given opportunities to be promoted, to be trained, to become better managers; do engineers participate in company decisions? 'All these factors make up the criteria for the selection process of the technology award.' He said his background was in business and this equipped him with a practical agenda. Mr Liu came to Hong Kong in 1994 from the United States where he was vice-president of Digital in Boston and said his international business exposure enabled him to see ways for companies to raise their technology level. 'From a commercial background, [I] tend to look at things more practically and make things happen. When I first got here, I set the strategy for this company [and] for Hong Kong. I set a focus by selecting a core competency of technology for Hong Kong,' he said. 'We picked up our focus on technology, looking at multimedia, telecom, software, electronics. We isolated these four areas. This was important. Before, we were working on all kinds of technology and our resources were spread too thinly.' The HKITCC incubation programme takes new hi-tech companies and allows them to grow in a sheltered environment where they receive guidance in areas including product promotion, financial support and research management. 'Once they are successful . . . we set them free. To date, there are 45 companies which have grown under this programme,' he said. 'The programme creates technology companies for Hong Kong. It increases jobs, industrial output, and income tax [revenues] for the government. The return is pretty good.' Mr Liu acknowledged that establishing companies via incubation was a 'quick fix'. The longer term aim was to foster a broader technology culture, a slower process. On a recent visit to China, the HKITCC signed 13 agreements to bring technology from Xian to the SAR. The majority of technology is sourced from the mainland and the US. Next year, trips are planned to destinations such as the computer hub in Seattle and Silicon Valley in California. Mr Liu said this year's winner of the Technological Achievement Award, Group Sense (GSL), would be an example for future entries. The formula was simple: use whatever means to bring technology into Hong Kong to create higher value-added industry, he said. 'The software translation company which won the award this year grew their own technology and, at the same time, they acquired technology from Beijing. 'The message for Hong Kong is don't worry about not having technology today. As long as you can manage the business, you will have the ability to acquire technology. You don't have to [necessarily] grow [all] your own technology. You might be too late and it is a waste of resources,' Mr Liu said.