Progress report on Research and Development Centres for 2016-2017
Noting that investment in R&D was important in increasing the competitiveness of Hong Kong in the international arena, Mr CHAN Chun-ying enquired about the reasons for the decrease in the operating expenditure of the R&D Centre for Information and Communications Technologies under the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (“ASTRI”) and the Nano and Advanced Materials Institute (“NAMI”) in 2016-2017.
CIT explained that the decreases in the operating expenditure of ASTRI and NAMI in 2016-2017 were minimal in percentage terms and the reason for such decreases was mainly because of the transitional changes in staff costs caused by natural wastage. In general, the operating expenditure of the R&D Centres had remained stable.
Level of industry contribution
Noting that the level of industry contribution was an important indicator of industry support in the work of the R&D Centres, Mr CHAN Chun-ying expressed concern about the decreasing level of industry contribution of all the R&D Centres except NAMI in 2016-2017. In this regard, the Chairman said that ITC should explain the rationale for setting the target for the new performance indicator in respect of the income received from industry at 30% from 2017-2018 onwards.
CIT explained that the changes in the level of industry contribution of ASTRI and the Hong Kong R&D Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management Enabling Technologies in 2016-2017 were minimal. NAMI had a higher level of industry contribution in 2016-2017 mainly because it had initiated a number of market-driven collaborative research projects. Automotive Parts and Accessory Systems R&D Centre (“APAS”) had lower levels of industry contributions because it had commenced more seed projects for which no industry contribution was required. CIT added that the performance of R&D Centres was not necessarily reflected solely by the level of industry contribution. The Administration would include a number of new performance indicators in its subsequent annual reports to the Panel to cover their performance in other areas. An indicator on the “level of income received from the industry” would replace the “level of industry contribution”, and would cover not only sponsorship from the industry for R&D projects, but also income arising from licensing/royalty and contract services, and other income. The target for this indicator would be set at 30% from 2017-2018 onwards, which was considered ambitious yet realistic
Promotion of inward investment
Promoting Hong Kong as a hub for offshore renminbi business and FinTech
Mr CHAN Chun-ying enquired how InvestHK would promote Hong Kong as a leading offshore renminbi (“RMB”) business hub, and how it would promote Hong Kong as Asia’s FinTech hub in the face of keen competition from Singapore.
PSCIT advised that promoting Hong Kong’s role as an offshore RMB centre had been an integral part and recurrent theme in InvestHK’s promotional efforts to both Mainland and overseas target companies. DGIP added that, on the FinTech front, a dedicated FinTech team was set up in September 2016 in InvestHK to appeal to overseas and Mainland FinTech enterprises, investors as well as research and development institutions to establish a presence in Hong Kong. To showcase Hong Kong’s unique advantages in developing FinTech, the first FinTech Week was held in Hong Kong in November 2016. Moreover, the Administration had been actively exploring the potential of applying new technologies, including artificial intelligence, blockchain and Insurance Technology, etc., in financial services. ADGIP3 further advised that, riding on the success of the first FinTech Week, InvestHK was organizing the second FinTech Week from 23 to 27 October 2017 to attract FinTech companies to Hong Kong.