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Hong Kong science park to lure innovation leaders

HONG KONG - Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, the city’s largest innovation and technology center, is considering offering free rentals to international technology giants, its chief said.

If that plan gets the green light from the HKSTP board of directors, it could push Hong Kong a step ahead of Shanghai, China’s magnet for global high-tech R&D centers, and change the landscape of innovation development in the country.

HKSTP Chairperson Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun said the rent-free proposal is tailor-made for tech titans in China and beyond, such as Google and Tencent, attracting them to establish their research and development branches in the park.

Ultimately, by attracting leading R&D centers, Hong Kong would boost its innovation and technology competitiveness and help itself develop as a connector for the industry, Law said. It would also create quality job opportunities for students of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the city, she said.

R&D, standing in the middle of the innovation and technology industrial chain, plays a role in transferring knowledge from the chain’s higher reaches to marketable products.

Moreover, Law said the rent-free offer would form a synergy with the Hong Kong government’s innovation policies and the benefits offered by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development. That will help Hong Kong develop into an international innovation and technology hub, Law said.

In the future, the park would like to further upgrade the plan by offering the incentive in exchange for shares in the companies, and in that way the plan would be a win-win solution, Law said.

Currently, Shanghai is the country’s biggest base for international high-tech research and home to 416 foreign R&D centers, one-fourth of the total in China.

Shanghai’s policy includes rent allowance, a one-off rent subsidy and a three-year rent discount, according to municipal government documents. That is currently the best offer international technology companies can currently get in China, according to the Shanghai government.

Hong Kong’s general competitiveness rose to the sixth in the latest global competitiveness index, which covered 137 economies. However, the Global Innovation Index ranks Hong Kong as 16th globally, behind regional competitors like Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s first Policy Address in October outlined a series of incentives to boost Hong Kong’s innovation and technology development. One of the highlights is a tax deduction on R&D expenditures.

Under the policy, the first HK$2 million ($255,875) of R&D expenditure is eligible for a 300 percent tax deduction, and the remainder is eligible for a 200 percent deduction.

Published : January 29, 2018

By : China Daily/ANN