Politicians and public figures from a range of backgrounds take turns to have their say on important matters of the day in this personal view programme.
Catch it live: Sunday 8:15am - 8:25am
Podcast: Updated weekly and available after broadcast.
To the technology-loving youngsters of Hong Kong,
Let me start by saying that the future is all yours. The disruption by technology is obvious in every aspect of our lives and every corner of the world. You are using smart phones, the internet, e-payment, video streaming, and our lives are very different from years ago. Let’s also think about Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Genetics, Stem-cells, new materials, and environmental technologies. Technology is all around us, and you know you have to be part of this global trend.
In the past few years, the Hong Kong Government has invested more than HK$110B to help advance our Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship. We are also receiving unwavering support from corporations and investors. We know we have to get on the train. While we still have a long way to go to becoming a global tech hub, HK is on the right track. You are at the right place at the right time, let’s do the right thing.
Besides the increasing attention towards Innovation and Technology Development, HK has also been bustling with innovative ideas. An entrepreneurial spirit is stirring up around the city – more than 3,000 start-ups call HK home in 2020. In the Science Park alone, we have over 1,000 technology companies, hiring more than 14,000 people from 23 nations, and more than 9,000 of them are R&D professionals. By R&D, we mean Research & Development. In the Science Park, Development and Commercialization are the focuses. We aim at providing a fertile soil for ideas to germinate.
A key component of our Innovation ecosystem is the Investors. Ideas and science can become innovation and products with the help of strategic investments. Early stage, technology and Venture investment is a relatively new concept to HK. This is an area in which HKSTP has done a lot of work. With over 1,000 active investors engaged with our start-ups, Investment activities have shot up significantly in the past few years. HKSTP alone recorded HK$ 29.7 Billion of investment activities within our premises in the past three years.
To drive the future of our city, we need you, our young generation millennials and gen Z, to be on board the HK I&T ecosystem. Talent supply is a significant factor in attracting companies to Hong Kong. Having good tech companies in HK will attract and develop more talent, which will, in turn, attract more companies. We need to get on this cycle. Companies make decisions on their locations based on three factors: Market – Talent – Cost, in that order. Cost is the easiest thing to measure, but it is less of a determinant than Market and availability of Talent. Our strategic position in the Greater Bay Area and the rest of Asia region provide unique business opportunities, and the leading capital market and mature fund raising hub are also enablers for companies at different stages to come to Hong Kong. The supply of skilled talent is perhaps the most pressing agenda for Hong Kong.
While we are seeing a clamour for technology around us, we need talent to support this growth. We saw a major talent mis-match in our annual HKSTP Career Expo last year. While we had over 1,000 tech vacancies at the beginning of the pandemic in the Spring of 2020, only fewer than 200 out of the 1,000 vacancies were filled.
This year’s career expo reported over 2,400 jobs from 270 companies, more than double from last year. More than half, about 65%, of the open positions are from companies involved in AI, Robotics, Data, Smart Cities and Healthcare Technologies. This is good news for you, tech savvy youngsters of HK. There are more jobs than people.
If you love technology, if you are committed to pursuing a career in Research and Development, go after your dream, work hard. There are opportunities.
This window of opportunity for our talent will be open for a short time, and a short time only. Hong Kong is still a good place to attract, develop and retain talent. Four of our universities are ranked among the top fifty in the world. The HK Government is investing heavily in technology & innovation. But if such a talent shortage continues, recruiters will go elsewhere.
Hong Kong is a blessed land. Our location and our system allow us to be the place where the East meets the West. We are the entry and exit of the Greater Bay Area, and we are within easy access to South East Asia and the Belt and Road. We have strong infrastructures and a robust financial system. Rule-of-law and ease of doing business are important to our prosperity. With our spirit of the Lion Rock, we know we are blessed. We love our city.
Prosperity brings comfort. Comfort results in complacency, which leads to failure. For the past twenty years, Hong Kong thrived on financial, retail, logistics and tourism. These pillar industries are important to us, but the “lo-tech” and quick money mentalities will not survive. Hong Kong is a blessed land, but being blessed should push us to work even harder. There is a crisis upon us. We cannot live on our past. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. We cannot predict what technology will prevail in the next ten years, or even five years, but we have to be prepared, mentally, structurally, financially and culturally for the future.
People ask if Hong Kong has what it takes to embrace High-Tech. My answer is a resounding yes. We do. We have the market next door, the talent supply, the institutions, the government, the financial system and the geography. Hong Kong is the envy of many cities in the world.
The most important thing, however, is that the world is being disrupted by technology. Hong Kong has to take this on. It is not a matter of choice, but survival.