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New Opportunities for Youth under the Concepts of the Greater Bay Area

By CGCC Vision

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area is an important window for young people in Hong Kong to learn more about the country. With similarities in language and culture, as well as a convenient transportation network, the Greater Bay Area offers the young generation of Hong Kong much prospects to kick off new businesses.

Wong Hak-keung: Transforming into a New Start-up Cradle with GBA

Innovation and technology (I&T) is a key area of development for cooperation between Hong Kong and other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Great Bay Area (GBA). The 50,000 or so jobs created at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park (HK-SZ I&T Park) when it is completed would create more opportunities for young professionals who aspire to pursue an I&T career.

Support for young professionals and start-ups

Albert Wong Hak-keung, CE O of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), pointed out that industrial and scientific research is indispensable to realize economic diversification.

Wong cited that the HKSTP holds a job fair every year to recruit science and technology talents and runs several start-up incubation programmes, which have produced great results. “Currently, about 650 local, Mainland and overseas technology companies operate in the park, employing a total of nearly 13,000 people. Nearly 300 of these companies are start-ups, while about 9,000 people are engaged in R&D, which comprises a high proportion of the total workforce. This shows that the HKSTP is providing opportunities for the next generation of professionals who have the interest and potential to build a career or business in I&T. Similarly, we are pleased to see more and more investors coming here to look for promising start-ups and create business opportunities with them.”

Help for I&T talents to realise entrepreneurial dream

The HK-SZ I&T Park, a joint development between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, covers an area of 87 hectares, four times the size of the HKSTP and is situated in an excellent location. Wong said the park can serve as an entrance for Hong Kong and overseas enterprises to access the vast Mainland market. It is also an outlet for Mainland enterprises to tap the international market through the Belt and Road initiative. It could combine the strengths of the two places, i.e. Shenzhen’s advanced scientific research and technology, and Hong Kong’s legal and land administration systems since the park is located in Hong Kong. Thus, this will fully reap the benefits of the “one country, two systems” policy to produce the best mutual benefit and win-win experience in I&T.

The park covers four key development areas: robotics, biomedicine, smart city and fintech. Wong added that the park will introduce tertiary education, culture, creativity and research-related facilities to attract top enterprises, R&D institutions and institutions of higher learning from Hong Kong, the Mainland and overseas. Apart from helping to nurture more scientific research talents, it can also encourage more young people in Hong Kong to pursue an I&T career while making greater contribution to scientific research in Hong Kong.

Wong acknowledged that Hong Kong started I&T development a little later than Shenzhen, but as Hong Kong has unique strengths in finance, logistics, trade, biomedicine and the rule of law, it has an important role in the GBA. “Young people who aspire to engage in I&T should capitalise on the significant development opportunities arising from the GBA and realise their creativity and dreams by participating in the HKSTP’s start-up incubation programmes and other related initiatives.”

Diverse schemes for uncovering talents

In view of this, the HKSTP has announced two initiatives to support start-ups this year, i.e. Global Acceleration Academy (GAA) and Elevator Pitch Competition 2017 (EPiC 2017). Wong explained that GAA partners with companies from different scientific and technological fields, provide participating start-ups from around the world with intensive workshops to help them win industry and investor support for commercialising their R&D projects.

In the EPiC 2017 to be held at sky100, International Commerce Centre in November, 100 start-ups will be selected to pitch their ideas and business models to an international panel of judges. All these are aimed at helping young I&T talents to realise their dreams of starting a business.

Talents are at the core of sustainable scientific research. Wong said that although the HKSAR Government and the Innovation and Technology Bureau have comprehensive talent supporting policies, he suggests Hong Kong should slightly open up the existing immigration policy to attract more cutting-edge talents to Hong Kong to provide greater impetus for I&T development. This is because countries across the world are competing for talents in data analytics, medical care and technology.

Wang Chunxin: the Greater Bay Area is a start-up pad for Hong Kong youth

As a major national construction project, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area aims at building a world-class city cluster. As Hong Kong is determined to become the innovation and technology hub in the region, how should its young generation seize the golden opportunity to start their own businesses?

Opportunities emerging from innovation and technology industries

According to Wang Chunxin, Senior Economist of the Economics & Strategic Planning Department, Bank of China (Hong Kong), young people in Hong Kong should actively capitalize on the historic opportunity from the construction of the GBA. Qianhai in Shenzhen, Nansha Free Trade Zone in Guangzhou, the startup parks in Hengqin, etc., for example, are all providing strong support to new entrepreneurs from Hong Kong and Macau. They are indeed presenting favorable opportunities for young people who believe they have the interest and potentials in creative industries to actualize their aspirations of building their own businesses. For this reason, young people should take the initiative to visit these sites and look for business opportunities. Such a move could help expedite the pace of development for Hong Kong’s own innovation and technologies.

Innovation and technology is the business type of many start-ups, and this is an area in which the strength of Hong Kong young people lies. Wang pointed out that there is a very clearly defined blueprint for the construction of the GBA and distinctive positioning for each city. Spearheading all technology products across the country, Guangdong will be promoting national economic growth with innovation and technology. Shenzhen will be standing out from the crowd, as there are now more than 30,000 technology companies from six major industries settling in the city in recent years; these include the internet, biotechnology, new energy, next-generation information technologies, new materials and creative and cultural industries. If local young innovation and technology talents could go north, they will be able to ride on the synergy in the region and gain even more opportunities.

Early preparation to enhance competitiveness

Wang pointed out “Shenzhen is investing as much as 4.02% of its GDP in research and development, which is twice as much as the national average.” By contrast, with R&D expenses of about 0.73%, Hong Kong's investment in this area has yet to catch up with those in Shenzhen. However, an ambitious goal has been set by Chief Executive Carrie Lam in her Policy Address earlier on. Lam promised that the proportion of R&D expenses will be pumped up to 1.5% of the GDP by 2022, before this term of office concludes. Additional tax reductions will also be available for the R&D expenses of companies, which could significantly ease the burden of young entrepreneurs. The move is also demonstrating the ambition and determination of the authorities in promoting the development of innovation and technology industries, which could in turn help strengthen young people’s confidence in getting on the bandwagon.

Meanwhile, the government has proposed to strengthen innovation and technology development in eight major directions: increasing R&D resources, converging technology talents, providing venture capital, providing R&D infrastructure, reviewing prevailing laws and regulations, opening up government data, changing the way of sourcing with the government as the lead, and strengthening STEM education. Wang is glad to see the Government putting concrete actions to promote development in innovation and technology, and building the appropriate ecology to breed outstanding innovation and technology companies, which would be helpful for Hong Kong in picking up its pace along the journey. These efforts also help make early preparation for students who aspire to develop a career in the industries, so that they would be equipped with the necessary competitiveness when they tap into the GBA or other places around the world in the future.

Irreplaceable role of Hong Kong

Regarding the future positioning of Hong Kong in the GBA, Wang said frankly that Hong Kong would be difficult to be replaced because of its unique advantages, including economic openness, its status as a primary offshore service center, its vast commercial and trade scale, as well as its offshore investment scale. With the support of “one country, two systems”, the city would be very difficult to be replaced by other mainland cities.

Wang is highly optimistic about the prospects of the GBA. This is because the world-class city cluster jointly built by the nine Guangdong cities and the two SARs  of Hong Kong and Macau covers three international industrial platforms, featuring a technology industry innovation center, an international financial hub and a worldclass commercial and trade center. For young talents in the fields of innovation and technology and corporate management, opportunities are everywhere.

The financial industry is also a direction and focus in the GBA. With the strong efforts that drive its development in recent years, the Mainland has made some significant progress in the scope of green finance,   which should be a direction to keep an eye on by young people in Hong Kong as they establish their businesses. “Going forward, Hong Kong should put its prevailing advantages in finance to full play in the Greater Bay Area. As it promotes financial technology, it should not overlook the development of green technologies.”

This article was first published in the magazine CGCC Vision November 2017 issue. Please click to read the full article.

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