The companies will be granted three-month rent exemptions with the expectation that the savings will be diverted into research and development.
According to a recent report, a little over HK$7 billion (US$893 million) worth of fresh measures ranging from rent exemptions to expanded subsidies will be up for grabs for hundreds of current and future tenants at Hong Kong’s innovation and technology hub, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP).
This will be the city’s latest effort to bolster its international standing in technology.
Recently, the HKSTP Corporation’s CEO stated that the measures aim to aid the tenants in levelling up their game in innovation and technology development and further improve the ecosystem. This is part of the government’s HK$10 billion funding to support and foster the park’s 709 tenants and upgrade its infrastructure.
The sweeteners could potentially benefit about 500 start-ups in the next five years as the park seeks to increase the number from about 270 now, he added.
The CEO noted that if a company does not have half of its staff engaged in research and development, the Corporation would not be welcoming it to settle at the Park. He added that Hong Kong has so far worked extremely hard and put in a great effort aimed at strengthening IT development, and it will be competing and cooperating with Shenzhen.
The CEO promised to constantly review the effectiveness of the measures.
Hong Kong has been known for trailing behind Singapore and Japan in technological readiness, according to the latest Economist Intelligence Unit study on 82 of the world’s largest economies.
Addressing this issue, the CEO of HKSTP stated that the group hopes to help companies execute their business plans, find capital and reach out to the market through the Park’s various programmes.
To ease funding needs, the first phase of corporate venture funding will be boosted to HK$200 million from the current HK$50 million.
The CEO noted that the aim is to encourage angel investors and venture capitalists to co-invest in the Park’s projects or start-ups from our incubation programmes.
A tenant at the park and the CEO of a start-up that uses artificial intelligence technologies to analyse or process speech in Chinese dialects for reviewing service at call centres stated that he welcomed the improved funding pools.
He noted that in 2015, when he gave up offers in Silicon Valley, California and came back to Hong Kong to start up his company, there were not many angel funds around and the ecosystem was totally unlike now. He added that his company received an undisclosed amount of investments from a Hong Kong business magnate, investor, and philanthropist a year ago.
In addition, The Park will waive rents for all of its hundreds of tenants for three months, with the owner of the aforementioned start-up hoping they will reallocate the savings to research and development work or other business opportunities.
Another tenant and CEO of a start-up company that has developed technology to stop LED lights and signs from failing in Hong Kong’s bad weather stated that he too welcome the move, which means a saving of about HK$128,000 for his 1,700 square foot-office over the three-month period. He stated that he would probably spend the savings on producing prototypes or taking part in trade shows.
Overall, the pool of money is expected to help hundreds of start-ups and boost innovation, collaboration as well as research and development.
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