2018 Policy Address: Tech insiders give mixed reviews - ComputerWorld Hong Kong


2018 Policy Address: Tech insiders give mixed reviews


Winnie Tang, honorary professor at the Department of Computer Science, University of Hong Kong and founder of Smart City Consortium


Overall impression: Besides a land bank, we also need a talent bank for I&T development in Hong Kong. It is gratifying to see the Chief Executive's continuous commitment to foster development with specific and practical proposals in the 2018 policy address, further to the unprecedented focus on technology and innovation (I&T) development in last year's policy address.


Comments on I&T-related policies: The focus of this year's I&T section is on re-industrialization—the CE has put together HK$4 billion for a Re-industrialization Funding Scheme, and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) is to "identify suitable land for building facilities required by the dedicated advanced manufacturing sector." Compared to last year of which the focus was on the upstream of the supply chain, such as research and startups, the measures this year can encourage downstream production. This helps to form a dynamic and healthy ecosystem in Hong Kong.


Areas for improvement:


Lack of determination on opening data and sharing it with the public

Data is seen as the "new oil", it is a key raw material for promoting big data analysis, artificial intelligence and other creative and digital economy.


The CE has mentioned to require "all government departments to formulate and publish their annual open data plans by the end of this year." But no timeline and detailed plans were available as to what and when to open the data to the public.


The government has collected a large amount of data and should take the lead in opening the data, by means of a common spatial data infrastructure (CSDl). Europe, America and Singapore have longed established this kind of platform. But ours will not be fully operational until 2023. This will likely weaken Hong Kong's leading position in innotech development.


Lack of focus on recruiting and retaining talent

Though the government has introduced various initiatives in the last 12 months, such as the Technology Talent Admission Scheme and the Technology Talent Scheme, we are not competitive enough in terms of acquisition of global scientific research talents.


Every country is fighting for I&T talent. For example, Australia launched a new plan in March to attract highly skilled talent globally, and Canada also updated its Global Skills Strategy recently.


Australia's Global Talent Scheme allows two types of company to recruit talents from overseas: (1) technology-based or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related start-ups; (2) Enterprises with an annual turnover of AUD$4 million may also sponsor overseas experienced professionals. These visas last for four years, and the talents can apply for permanent residency in the third year. As for Canada, its new policy shortens the application time for admitting the innotech talents and their family members to only two weeks.


Do we have the sufficient edge to attract overseas talent?


Innovation should be emphasized in procurement

Currently, assessment of government tender skews towards pricing with weighting of 70%. The weighting of technical expertise is only 30%. By next April, tenders with innovative suggestions will stand a better chance of winning government contracts as proposed by the CE today. I don't know how much the new weighting will be. May I suggest the proportion of technical expertise to over 50% to reflect the importance and emphasis on innovation?


HK$17 billion R&D budget is missing

The CE has promised to raise the R&D expenditure from 0.73% of the Gross Domestic Product to 1.5% in five years' time, and has been setting a goal of HK$45 billion a year. However, only HK$28 billion has been ear-marked so far in the Policy Address. Are we going to add the outstanding of HK$17 billion later?


Rating: 7.5