Hong Kong's belated entry in the pan-Asian race to build a regional science and technology hub could receive a much-needed boost with the appointment of a top Motorola executive as chief executive. Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks has appointed Tam Chung-ding, executive vice-president and president of Asia-Pacific region for Motorola, as its new chief executive. It hopes the 33-year Motorola veteran will bring with him the qualities needed to cultivate the science park into a technology innovation hub. Mr Tam will take up his new role once he retires from Motorola on April 1. He will take over from Peter Lo, who is also retiring. The park is the Government agency charged with building science and technology research facilities to encourage and cultivate technology innovation. It is due for completion in 2008 and about a million square feet will be ready for occupancy by the middle of this year. The current tenancy level is 45 per cent, with 13 tenants including electronics manufacturer V-Tech. The park is competing with all the other state-funded research and development centres around the region. Besides traditional rivals Taiwan and Singapore, almost every city in China is touting science and software parks, and from Bali to Bangalore to Subic Bay to Malaysia's Multimedia Supercorridor project, every Asian city is doing the same. Moreover, the project has often been confused with CyberPort in Pokfulam, where a planned 1.1 million sq ft of office space will be ready by April. 'The Science Park is a research and development centre for science and technology companies,' Mr Tam said. 'The emphasis is hi-tech innovation and development through applied research and development.' CyberPort is essentially an office development targeting technology-service firms and application providers. Mr Tam told Technology Post that even though Hong Kong was small, its potential should not be underestimated because there was plenty of talent. 'Did you know that the Dragonball chip that powers most Palm OS devices was created in Hong Kong?' he said. 'The team that designed the Dragonball chip was all local, including me. There was only one American on the team but he did not come up with the design.' Mr Tam said Hong Kong's home-grown talent lacked proper guidance and nurturing. 'This is a gap that the science park and the Applied Science and Technology Institute will bridge,' he said. 'The two bodies will help to nurture, encourage and mentor local talent through exchange programmes, industrial attachments and financial assistance.' Mr Tam said that incubating small- and medium-sized technology companies in Hong Kong to become regional or global players would be one of his most important goals. 'Smaller hi-tech start-ups move faster and can innovate faster than large companies, given the resources and soft infrastructure,' he said. 'If you look at Singapore and the success of its science park, it is in attracting foreign companies to invest there, which is very good. But they lack something which they now realise is very vital - the entrepreneurial spirit.' Mr Tam said one of his first moves would be to raise the quality of local software engineers. 'I've asked many times, 'Are the engineers here of SEI Level 5?' Only blank looks were given to me. SEI Level 5 is a maturity model created by the Software Engineering Institute that gauges the level of software expertise. 'We must have this kind of guidance and process at the science park.' He said Motorola's research facilities in India and China had reached the highest standards of software expertise and he hoped to take that experience to Hong Kong's science park.