Business group calls for creation of innovation and technology bureau
Business and Professionals Federation report proposes new bureau and free public Wi-fi
An independent group of businesses and professionals has called on the Hong Kong government to pursue sweeping changes, including the creation of a new policymaking agency and free public Wi-fi services, to ignite a culture of innovation.
Former chief secretary David Akers-Jones, president of the BPF, said at the launch that the group's report is "a wake-up call" for the city, which has lagged behind its peer group of economies - Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Israel - in terms of investments in innovation.
The BPF was founded in 1990 as a non-political successor to the so-called Group of 89 members of the Basic Law Consultative and Drafting Committee.
It also urged the government to set up a co-ordinating body, which could be called "Tech Hong Kong Advocates", as the city's counterpart to Britain's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. Other proposals included offering more innovation-focused programmes for the city's 300,000 small and medium-sized businesses and for schoolchildren.
A universal free Wi-fi initiative would help narrow the digital divide between those with unfettered access to communication and information and those with limited or no access to such resources in the city, the BPF said. It proposed the government and internet services providers bear the cost of this public service.
The BPF described the state of innovation in Hong Kong as "immature", with annual investment in technological innovation at only 1 per cent of the city's gross domestic product. BPF vice-chairman Gregg Li Ka-lok said: "We should be targeting 3 per cent as a medium-term goal."
The report also found that the government, local industries and entrepreneurs "are increasingly disconnected from one another".
The BPF report has come nearly a month after the latest Global Innovation Index (GII) survey ranked Hong Kong seventh among the world's top 10 leading markets for innovation. The GII survey is a benchmark of the innovation capability of 142 economies worldwide.