Science Park sets out $10b plan for start-ups

Local | Jane Cheung 3 Dec 2018

The Science Park aims to nurture 1,000 start-ups after the government's HK$10 billion injection, chief executive Albert Wong Hak-keung says.

This came after Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced the fund for the Science Park in his budget in February. It was approved by the Legislative Council in July.

Speaking on a radio program yesterday, Wong said the HK$10 billion will be used mainly to enhance support for start-ups under the park's incubation program to transform innovative ideas into products.

"To put it straight, we teach them how to operate a business. We help them identify their market, design their products and look for investors, etc," Wong said.

He said the incubation period usually lasted two to three years and the park had graduated 500-plus companies.

"In a few years' time, we hope to boost the number of graduates to over 1,000. This is our dream," he said.

Wong said a large chunk of the funding will be used to enhance support for 200 incubates and add a new category for biomedical companies. For 300 other tenants the park would make use of the fund and provide rent allowances, he said.

Responding to criticisms that Science Park rents were too high, Wong said the park had not raised rents for three years.

He said enterprises do not have to pay rents for the first year in the park, and are required to pay only half the rent in the second year.

"We don't wish to earn money, we only hope we don't have to use so much from the government," he said.

Wong said the HK$10-billion fund would also be used to set up more joint laboratories for start-ups in the park.

"If a small enterprise wants to do research and development work, and it can't afford expensive equipment, that's when they need the laboratories," he said.

"We actually have had these labs for a long time, but we'll expand them and provide more services." He said the park is building dormitories to provide about 500 places in hopes of attracting talent that were previously deterred by the high living costs in Hong Kong.

Wong said under the government's great support, the city has gradually created an atmosphere conducive to IT development.

He said the SAR had many capable scientists and engineers but the problem was how to attract them to commit themselves to research and development of new IT products.

The local IT sector faced another challenge in looking for investors, as SAR citizens are used to other investment models such as the stock and property markets.

"They are used to their usual model, where they can get HK$110 for investing HK$100, in addition to receiving interest every quarter of the year," he said.

"But it's not the case for start-ups, where 15 out of 20 investments may fail. A lot of people cannot take the risks."

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