Host Partner Address at EmTech Hong Kong

Following is the host partner address by Mr. Wong Ming-yam, BBS, JP, Chairman of ASTRI at Day 1 of EmTech Hong Kong  held on 7 Jun.


Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute, or ASTRI, to be the host partner of MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Hong Kong Conference.

This is the first time that this prestigious MIT event is staged in Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong is closer to MIT than many have imagined. There are some 4,000 MIT graduates from Hong Kong now working in key positions around the world.

This morning, we have at least three distinguished MIT HK-alumni among us. Our Financial Secretary, the Honourable John Tsang, studied architecture at MIT. ASTRI’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Frank Tong, completed his PhD research at the MIT Lincoln Lab; and our Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Meikei Ieong, earned his MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He will soon talk about how we are to enable Hong Kong as a Smart City in a 5G environment.

EmTech is a conference on emerging technologies that will change the way we live today. While innovators from around the world put their heads together in Hong Kong on the next generation of technological breakthroughs, we at ASTRI are very excited to take this opportunity to showcase our R&D competence, spanning from FinTech, Next Generation Network, Intelligent Manufacturing, Medical and Health to Smart City.

ASTRI has a team of 400 engineers. We have produced a volume of home-grown technologies. Since Year 2000, we have applied for over 900 patents in China, the U.S. and other countries, and have been granted more than 500. So far, we have transferred more than 700 technologies to the industry, generating a total income of some HK$450 million.

Hong Kong is a vibrant city by all standards. A few days ago, the Swiss IMD World Competitiveness Center named Hong Kong as the most competitive economy in the world, eclipsing Switzerland, the United States and Singapore. In terms of reach and development, however, we still have a lot of catching up to do.

In 2014, Hong Kong’s R&D expenditure accounted for only 0.74% of GDP, while the figure for China as a whole was 2.05%; Singapore 2%; Japan 3.58%; and South Korea 4.29%.

How about our northern neighbor – Shenzhen? Since 2013, Shenzhen has invested more than 4% of its GDP in R&D each year. By Year 2020, 4.25% of its GDP will be earmarked for R&D. Six emerging industries – biotechnology, the Internet, new energy, new materials, IT and cultural and creative industries – are expected to expand to account for 42% of the city’s GDP.

Singapore is often branded as Hong Kong’s archrival. Her population is only 75% of that of ours. However, it has outshone Hong Kong in terms of infrastructure, R&D investment and talent cultivation. Under its latest five-year plan, the Singapore government has committed US$14 billion from 2016 to 2020 to research and to take the country to the next stage of development.

Economies around the world are increasing R&D spending and gearing themselves up to develop technology-driven industries. Knowledge sharing aside, I hope this EmTech conference will also give our educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, and, especially, policy makers some food for thoughts.

There is a lot more we need to do. We need to invest more in R&D. We need to attract more global technology talent. Most important of all, we need the right policy direction and the right environment where innovation-based industries and start-ups can flourish in the upcoming 5G communications environment.

EmTech Hong Kong is a great platform for experts to converge and explore collaboration opportunities. I hope you would enjoy our city and get inspired by the bevy of speakers we have assembled. Thank you.