Professor Way Kuo, President of City University of Hong Kong (CityU) delivered a keynote speech on “How to promote the development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong” at Hong Kong-ASEAN Summit 2019 on 8 July, sharing his views on the essential prerequisites for creating a favourable environment for innovative development.
President Kuo pointed out that the United States, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, mainland China and Taiwan invest more than 2% of their GDP every year to support the development of research and technology (R&T). Hong Kong, positioned as a hub in trade and commerce, however, has not achieved remarkable results in promoting R&T. Expenditure on R&T has persistently been lower than 1% of GDP. The current-term government has endeavoured to promote innovation and technology, with the goal of raising the relevant expenditure to 1.5% of GDP from the current level of 0.78%.
He suggested learning from the success of the “American way” in developing R&T. “Funding is important, but this is not the only key to success. The US has the most prominent achievements in R&T and even though its capital input is not the highest. It is therefore worthwhile to make reference to many of its practices,” said President Kuo.
He attributed the US success to leaving the development of R&T to experts, and valuing and recognising non-native talent in the field. He used Silicon Valley as an example, pointing out that a large number of experts there are Indians and Chinese, and that they are dedicated to promoting innovative technology together. He said that in Hong Kong, there was also quite a lot of overseas talent in this field, and as in the US, they should be given the opportunity to utilise their potential to make a contribution to the development of R&T in Hong Kong.
President Kuo concluded by listing several key prerequisites for promoting favourable circumstances for R&T, including funding, human resources, government policy, administrative management and social stability. He said that when providing funding for R&T, the government should avoid getting involved in micro-management and instead leave that to the experts to enhance efficiency. Adherence to the rule of law is also an essential element for an internationalised city to develop R&T, he added.
At the end of his speech, President Kuo emphasised that it is of the utmost importance to be selfless when promoting R&T. “Whatever you do, your goal should not be to satisfy the interests of a small group of people, but to improve the well-being of society as a whole.” He acknowledged that in the course of development, it might not be possible to fulfil all the key conditions for success, but the more conditions that can be met, the more favourable the circumstance for innovation and technology.