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Technology

Sunny Chai, a pioneer in use of artificial intelligence, to be named new head of Hong Kong science park

Managing director of Fook Tin Group Holdings Limited tipped to replace outgoing Fanny Law at Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2018, 7:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2018, 11:41pm

An award-winning industrialist, who is a pioneer in applying innovative solutions such as artificial intelligence to retail sales and manufacturing processes, is expected to named as the new head of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation.

Sources told the Post that Sunny Chai Ngai-chiu, a board member of the park and managing director of Fook Tin Group Holdings Limited, is to replace Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun as the park’s chairman.

Law did not have her two-year rolling contract renewed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor after being in charge for four years. Her departure is unusual as her predecessor, Nicholas Brooke, served for six years.

A source familiar with the change in leadership said it was not Law’s decision to leave. Chai, who is expected to take over next month, declined to comment on the appointment.

Despite her decision, Lam praised Law as a “dedicated leader” on Tuesday, a day after Law wrote to the park’s board of directors telling them she was stepping down.

The chief executive earlier said Law’s leadership had laid a “strong foundation” for the government to take forward its policies in innovation and technology, including those outlined in Lam’s policy address last year.

Speaking before meeting her cabinet, Lam said the outgoing chairwoman would remain part of that group, but declined to comment on who would replace Law at the science park.

Asked by the Post to comment on Law’s performance as the park’s leader, Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung said: “I feel that Fanny is very hardworking, she’s a good chairwoman.”

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However, the minister declined to comment on whether there have been any disagreement between himself and Law, and whether a leadership reshuffle would affect the park and Hong Kong’s technological innovation.

A source close to the park welcomed Chai’s appointment, and said the incoming chairman understood the problems it faced, and would take a pragmatic and holistic approach to its future development.

“He [Chai] would not only focus on biotech,” the source said.

Chai’s family founded Fook Tin Group, which specialises in designing, manufacturing and selling electronic products, in the 1960s. But the industrialist, who is also a nephew of tycoon Li Ka-shing, established an IT firm under the group some 10 years ago.

The firm, named Dynasys, offers services that employs innovative solutions such as big data, and artificial intelligence, to boost retail sales and to enhance manufacturing processes.

Chai, awarded the Young Industrialist Award in 2004, also served on the board of two R&D centres under the Innovation and Technology Commission for 12 years. He is the chairman of the Logistics and Supply Chain MultiTech R&D Centre.

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A science graduate from Rochester Institute of Technology in the United States, Chai received a doctorate in engineering from City University of Hong Kong, and specialised in system engineering and engineering management.

Information and technology sector lawmaker Charles Mok said the industrialist had rich experience in handling with the government’s technology branches, but he is expected to face similar challenges as Law’s.

“At this critical juncture, he will have to find the right balance between developing infrastructure [the Lok Ma Chau Loop] and operating a bigger science park,” he said. “It would be a huge challenge.”

Additional reporting by Tony Cheung and Sum Lok-kei