MORE than 200 applications have been received for at least twice the $180 million being offered in the first year of the Industry Department's technology development fund. The deadline for applications was last Wednesday, but late applicants had been accepted until Saturday, said Raymond Young Lap-moon, the department's assistant director-general for technology development. Although legislators had yet to pass the bill covering the additional funding scheme, the Finance Committee had agreed to the fund in principle, he said. A ''very robust selection process'' would start today, he said. Industry experts would recommend proposals to the project vetting committee, and the Industry and Technology Development Council would choose the winners by the end of April. The cash would be available by the beginning of May. The five-year industrial support scheme, offering a total of $900 million, illustrated the department's ''detour'' in policy towards a more pro-active role in helping industries set up in Hong Kong without choosing which sectors or firms should win, he said. The Government has been criticised for not helping emerging industries as much as rivals Singapore and Taiwan, which have successfully built research-based industries such as electronics through greater government spending, directed industrial policies and big incentives. The fund aimed to help bridge the gap between research cash and commercial development and to develop technologies that would benefit the whole territory, not just individual companies, he said. The response had been much more positive than to the Applied Research and Development Scheme launched in 1992, which required applicants to put up the same amount of money for a project as the Government. Of the $200 million on offer for that scheme, only about $15 million has been committed to three projects. A fourth had been approved and about 12 applications were still being considered, said Mr Young. Companies and universities have complained that the requirement to put in 50 per cent of the cash is too onerous when the gadget or process being developed might not work. Among the applicants for the $180 million, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology alone has put in 26 proposals for about a third of the money, said director of planning and co-ordination Peter Dobson, although it did not expect to get all it hadrequested. A project example was one aiming to ''bring affordable hi-tech to Hong Kong'' in the liquid crystal industry. Presently firms only supply low-tech displays for, for example, computer games and watches. Its Biotechnology Research Institute was putting forward various proposals, he said. One project, involving Dr Raymond Wong Wan-keung and Caterly Technology, aimed for a commercial way to dissolve paper to make ethanol. The complementary Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology at the Chinese University is seeking $30 million to set up a pilot production plant. The director of industrial and business development at Chinese University, Robert Wu, said the fund would help transfer technology between institutions and industry more efficiently. Knowledge was becoming outdated more quickly as technology grew, he said. Among its proposals was one to study how more women could be encouraged to enter scientific or industrial jobs.