The Global Innovation Index 2022 recognized that the synergy of cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will have a huge impact on global innovation. As a key initiative in the national 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), the GBA has gained international recognition as the hub of innovation — digitization and scientific advancement in China. Hong Kong, the showcase and gateway city of the GBA, was ranked third in both the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report Special Edition 2020 (in information and communications technology), and the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report.
Hong Kong, with its distinct advantages of geographic proximity to the Chinese mainland and its entrenched Western-style social economic system, can effectively serve as a “superconnector” between the nation and the rest of the world. With its vision articulated in the 14th Five-Year Plan, Beijing is determined to transform the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region into the nation’s international innovation and technology hub. Close cooperation among the nine cities and two special administrative regions in the GBA is crucial to achieving this goal. It is envisaged that the partner cities and regions will cooperate in the research and development (R&D) ecosystem as follows:
Hong Kong’s universities excel in basic research, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), medical and health, and electronic design automation. Their research achievements have propelled five universities in Hong Kong to the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings. Hong Kong boasts many internationally renowned research achievements, such as Professor Sean Tang’s AI image processing at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Tao Wang’s work on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Leveraging this strong research background, Hong Kong can play a pivotal role in the upstream of the hub, generating new technologies and innovative ideas.
Research from Hong Kong universities may be innovative and scientifically sound, but it needs to be practically proved before it can be introduced to the market. Companies in Shenzhen, in this respect, can play a role in evaluating the applicability of the laboratory discoveries.
Hong Kong, with its distinct advantages of geographic proximity to the Chinese mainland and its entrenched Western-style social economic system, can effectively serve as a “superconnector” between the nation and the rest of the world
Shenzhen, a renowned center of technology development, is home to many high-tech companies, including big names like Huawei, BYD and Tencent. The city’s R&D institutions provide equipment, components and parts for the evaluation of new technologies, and its ample land resources make it easy for testing the feasibility of a new solution.
The city’s proximity to Hong Kong also makes it an ideal partner for Hong Kong labs to turn their new research into marketable products. UAV technology, for example, was tested and evaluated in Shenzhen with positive results. Then in 2006, Shenzhen DJI Sciences and Technologies Ltd was established to translate the UAV technology into marketable products, which eventually turned out to be the world’s leading player in the industry.
Commercialization and internationalization
A new mass-produced product needs to be marketed for business success. Guangdong province, a world-class manufacturing center on the mainland, also boasts significant market potential within the borders. The GBA, with its population of around 86 million, can serve as an initial market for commercialization, with the potential for gaining further access to the bigger market of the nation’s 1.4 billion people.
Some companies may decide to expand their respective businesses into the global market. In such cases, they may return to Hong Kong to seek international investment; for instance, through an initial public offering. Hong Kong, being a world financial center, attracts international venture capitalists who are actively searching for potential technology projects.
In conclusion, Hong Kong can effectively contribute to both ends of the ecosystem; namely, the innovation and internationalization stages. The HKSAR government on Dec 22 released the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Blueprint, which outlines eight major strategies under four broad development directions. These strategies indirectly support the functioning of the GBA innovation and technology ecosystem. The Northern Metropolis development strategy will connect Hong Kong and Shenzhen and will expedite cross-border business and logistics; and the Research, Academic and Industry Sectors One-plus Scheme (RAISe+ Scheme) provides staunch support for technology transfers.
The author is a Hong Kong member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference; a Legislative Council member; associate dean (External Affairs), Faculty of Engineering, Chinese University of Hong Kong; and vice-president of the Hong Kong Professionals and Senior Executives Association.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS