Guangdong province has moved to foster high-technology development, helped by the upcoming launch of the mainland's second boards, private enterprises and foreign investment. Deputy director-general of the province's technology and science department, Ma Xianmin, said during a trade visit to Hong Kong that about 10 high-tech companies from the province were applying to list on the second boards for technology and high-growth stocks. The mainland's version of the Growth Enterprise Market will be launched later this year in Shanghai and Shenzhen. Mr Ma said the move to launch the second boards would foster the growth of private-sector hi-tech firms. Guangdong has answered Beijing's call to boost the economy with technology by encouraging the growth of private hi-tech firms. The provincial government has approved the establishment of so-called civilian science-tech parks to assist private investors in developing hi-tech businesses. The ruling to allow private businesses to buy into small and medium-sized state-owned enterprises last September in non-monopolised sectors also encouraged the province's private sector to participate in the commercialisation of research results of state-run institutes. Last year, output in the hi-tech industry grew about 30 per cent to 200 billion yuan (about HK$187 billion), or 13.9 per cent of Guangdong's industrial output. About 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the output was contributed by electronics and information-technology sectors. In 1998, the hi-tech sector's output accounted for 11.2 per cent of the province's industrial output. Mr Ma said Guangdong might not be as technologically strong as Shanghai and Beijing, but the province's richer experience with market economy and open-door policy more than compensated for this.