On 28 February 2018, Mr Paul Chan, Financial Secretary (FS) of the HKSAR Government, delivered Hong Kong’s 2018-19 budget. Promoting the development of innovation and technology is high on Government’s agenda. A total of $50 billion has been earmarked for I&T development, focusing on Hong Kong’s areas of strength, namely biotechnology, artificial intelligence, smart city and financial technologies (Fintech) Innovation and Technology. Resources will also be provided to support various players within the I&T ecosystem and enabling organisations.
Today, 18 April 2018, Mr Chan visited ASTRI to learn about its latest R&D and innovation and endeavours, and expressed his strong support for ASTRI’s various initiatives in line with the Government’s I&T agenda. ASTRI’s senior executives and R&D professionals briefed the FS on a number of projects in FinTech, AI and Robotics and health technologies.
Some of the technology demonstrations witnessed by Mr Chan included an AI-based Mixed Natural Language Processing Chatbot system, a Digital Pathological Image Analytics Platform, Next Generation Capsule Endoscopy System, Optical Character Recognition and Industrial Robot for Random Bin Picking. He was impressed with other projects such as Connected Cars powered by Cellular Vehicle to Everything technologies; ASTRI’s 5G research and related applications for railway signalling system, Smart Airport, Mission Critical Communications; naked-eye 3D display; and Satellite Communications for Maritime Safety. Focusing on the core domain he is in charge of, the FS was also briefed on some of ASTRI’s FinTech projects including various Blockchain applications for financial services, Cybersecurity intelligent and trainings, and Palm Fusion Biometric Authentication System. The FS also took a glimpse of an artwork collaboration project between ASTRI and the City University of Hong Kong that celebrate the power of technology and the imaginative potential of the human brain.
In his budget speech, Mr Chan made it very clear that he would like to see Hong Kong shining bright “in the fierce I&T race amidst keen competition” from regional and global players. Leveraging its traditional and proven strengths and banking on emerging prospects, “Hong Kong must optimise its resources” while focusing on areas like biotechnology, artificial intelligence, smart city and FinTech. During his visit to ASTRI, he reiterated his commitment to advancing I&T for Hong Kong, and commented that “Innovation and Technology (I&T) hold the key to a bright and prosperous future for Hong Kong. The passion and commitment from ASTRI’s R&D team play a vital role in advancing Hong Kong’s I&T endeavours. The HKSAR Government remains steadfast in supporting ASTRI, and all the other players in our I&T ecosystem, to pursue innovation-led development and growth”.
Mr Chan was accompanied by, among other Government officials, Ms Annie Choi, Commissioner for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government, and Ms Jane Lee, Secretary-General (Testing and Certification) of the Innovation and Technology Commission. Mr Hugh Chow – CEO, Dr MeiKei Ieong – CTO, Ms Cammy Yung – CFO, Ms Gcae Hui – CAO, Dr Justin Chuang – Vice President of Next Generation Network, Dr Y K Li – Senior Director of Advanced Digital Systems, Dr Luca Hui – Senior Director of Security and Data Sciences, and Ms Eunice Cheng – Director of Public Affairs welcomed the FS and his entourage to ASTRI.
While announcing the budget for 2018-19, Mr Chan referred to the eight key areas in I&T development previously announced by the HKSAR Chief executive: investing more resources into R&D, nurturing a talent pool, promoting venture capital, strengthening scientific research infrastructure, carrying out legislation review, opening up data, streamlining government procurement, and boosting STEM education. In line with the Chief Executive’s Policy Speech, the Financial Secretary said the Government will offer a significant tax-reduction for R&D investment. This, coupled with the Government’s continued support to basic and applied R&D institutions, aims to Hong Kong’s Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product from the current 0.73% to 1.5% within the current Government’s five‑year tenure.
Commenting on the visit, Mr Hugh Chow said, “We have been greatly encouraged by the strong support and interest expressed by the FS in his visit to ASTRI. We are grateful for the strategic boost to I&T he announced in the budget – the significant funding will provide inspiring support to I&T development in Hong Kong. As the largest Government-funded R&D institution in Hong Kong, ASTRI will continue to focus on exploring and applying new technological solutions in areas such as AI, machine learning, smart city health technologies and FinTech.”
The visit by the FS reinforces the strategic priority attached to I&T development by the HKSAR Government. It strengthens ASTRI’s commitment to leveraging the power of technology to collaborate with different stakeholders in the I&T ecosystem in enhancing the competitiveness of businesses and enriching the lives of people.