Hong Kong’s financial secretary has urged local developers to “seize the advantage” of strong Beijing support to advance in innovation and technology, after President Xi Jinping directed state agencies to give the city’s scientists greater access to national funding last Monday. Paul Chan Mo-po said the city has solid advantages to develop in innovation and technology, such as international connections, an ability to nurture talent, protection of copyright and a sound legal system. “Now we also have strong policy support from Beijing. The whole society has been gradually developing a consensus for Hong Kong to develop innovation and technology,” Chan wrote in his blog on Sunday. National funding ‘crosses the bridge’ to Hong Kong scientists and research hubs as part of innovation drive Regarding the Hong Kong government’s role, Chan said it is responsible for building a good environment for the industry. He gave examples such as removing restrictions, investing in education and cultivating and attracting talent and companies. “By daring to act and experiment without fear of failure and limitation by the past experience, we can make bigger breakthroughs!” He wrote. After he officiated the opening ceremony of “SmartHK 2018” on May 16 in Zhejiang, Hangzhou, Chan also said he was impressed by mainland internet companies’ vision and insight into the latest social trend to improve people’s quality of life. “These companies are not just leading in internet technology, artificial intelligence and big data, they are also creative in their business model and the way of providing services,” he said. Two top Hong Kong scholars have dismissed concerns that academic freedom could be compromised under the new policy announced by Xi. The move was in response to an appeal by 24 of Hong Kong’s leading scientists and university professors who wrote to him last year to “express their pressing hope to make a contribution to the motherland”. Lack of innovation and incentives holding back Hong Kong from becoming a smart city Professor Andy Hor Tzi-sum, vice-president for research at the University of Hong Kong, said reputation was very important for academics, and he did not believe any of his peers would feel obliged to follow orders from the central government on research just because they were receiving funding. “Top professors will not come to Hong Kong if we do not have good funding and resources and if we limit what topics they can do,” Hor said. Another scholar, Joseph Lee Hun-wei, a professor of engineering and public policy at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, echoed Hor’s view, saying approval of projects on the national level is carried out by independent experts. Lee added money was not the only issue faced by the research sector as there was a need for a coherent and clear policy for research and development, and how to collaborate with the mainland.