Measures to support the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and the establishment of technology research clusters; and creation of an Assistant Commissioner post in the Innovation and Technology Commission
Mr CHAN Chun-ying raised no objection to the Administration’s funding proposals which sought to strengthen the research and technological capabilities of Hong Kong. As regards the control mechanism for the establishment of the two research clusters, Mr CHAN sought details of the operation of the Governing Committee to be set up to oversee the operation of the two proposed research clusters at HKSP. Mr CHAN was also concerned about the operation details of the control mechanism which would be put in place by HKSTPC to monitor the use of fund (i.e. the proposed funding of $10 billion to HKSTPC for providing key facilities and strengthening support for its tenants/incubatees) based on its current mechanism and corporate governance procedures.
Commissioner for Innovation and Technology (“CIT”) advised that the proposed Governing Committee would be responsible for approving the admission of institutions and overseeing the operation of the two research clusters. Several committees would be set up under the Governing Committee serving different purposes, such as: (a) a committee to oversee the direction, performance and R&D outcomes of the research centres/laboratories in the research clusters; (b) an audit committee to oversee the management of funds of the research clusters; and (c) a committee to oversee the provision and adequacy of facilities to support the research clusters.
Need for strengthening directorate support
Mr CHAN Chun-ying expressed support for the creation of one permanent directorate post of AOSGC in ITC to implement various new I&T initiatives. He enquired about the detailed duties and responsibilities of the post which would be designated as Assistant Commissioner (Infrastructure) (“AC(Infrastructure)”).
CIT advised that the proposed AC(Infrastructure) post would be responsible for devising strategic plans for the establishment of the two research clusters and overseeing their operation, and other research related facilities and infrastructure. AC(Infrastructure) would, in addition to the duties relating to the two research clusters, take over matters relating to HKSP from the existing AC(Infrastructure and Quality Services), which would be retitled as AC(Finance and Quality Services). AC(Finance and Quality Services) would continue to perform the duties relating to the management of the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund (“ITVF”), implementation of the R&D enhanced tax deduction, and oversight of the Standards and Calibration Laboratory, Hong Kong Accreditation Service, and Product Standards Information Bureau.
Implementation of a technology talent admission scheme
Safeguarding local job opportunities
Noting that under TechTAS, the remuneration for non-local talents should be broadly commensurate with the prevailing market level for comparable jobs in Hong Kong, Mr CHAN Chun-ying was concerned about whether non-local talents would be attracted to join TechTAS if the remuneration was not competitive enough. He also enquired about the consequence of not fulfilling the local talent employment requirement.
S for IT advised that while the remuneration for non-local talents should be broadly commensurate with the prevailing market level for comparable jobs in Hong Kong, it could be higher but not lower than the prevailing market level to safeguard local job opportunities. The talents admitted would also have to meet a set of criteria: (a) they should be degree-holders in STEM subjects from well-recognized universities; and (b) they should be engaged principally in conducting R&D in Hong Kong in the seven specific technology areas. CIT added that non-compliance of the local talent employment requirement would result in new quota application from the company/institute not being processed, and any unused quota allotted being suspended.
Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that the Fintech Supervisory Sandbox (“FSS”) was launched by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in September 2016 to allow banks and their partnering technology firms to conduct pilot trials of their fintech initiatives. 32 new technology products, including biometric authentication, soft token and chatbot, had been tested in FSS. Since fintech would be one of the technology areas under TechTAS, he enquired if such financial institutions could be regarded as incubators and be allowed to apply for admission of talents to assist with the conduct of trials of their fintech initiatives. S for IT said that the partnering technology firms of financial institutions would be eligible to apply for the pilot TechTAS if they were tenants/incubatees of HKSTPC or Cyberport.