2018-19 budget looks to invest in innovation and technology to secure a strong future for Hong Kong: Financial Secretary visits ASTRI and reiterates his resolve to drive development and growth powered by technology

  • 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.

    From left to right: Ms Jane Lee, Secretary-General (Testing and Certification) of the Innovation and Technology Commission, Mr Hugh Chow – Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI, Mr Paul Chan – Financial Secretary of the HKSAR Government, Ms Annie Choi – Commissioner for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government, and Dr MeiKei Ieong – Chief Technology Officer of ASTRI
    The visit by the FS reinforces the strategic priority attached to I&T development by the HKSAR Government
    AI-based industrial robots were one of the technology demonstrations witnessed by Mr Paul Chan, Financial Secretary of the HKSAR Government during his visit to ASTRI
    Mr Paul Chan – Financial Secretary of the HKSAR Government, trying out ASTRI’s AI-based Handwritten Chinese Character Optical Recognition solution
    Mr Paul Chan – Financial Secretary of the HKSAR Government, and Ms Annie Choi – Commissioner for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government, with ASTRI’s senior executives
    Mr Paul Chan – Financial Secretary of the HKSAR Government, and Ms Annie Choi – Commissioner for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government, along with ASTRI’s senior executives and R&D professionals, celebrating ASTRI’s 14 awards from the recent International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva

    Beijing Fangshan Yancun Technology Park partners with ASTRI, to power its specialised FinTech innovation hub

  • The 21st Beijing-Hong Kong Economic Collaboration Symposium was held in Hong Kong from 28-29 November 2017 with the theme of “Leading Innovation, Exchanging Resources, Driving Development, and Creating Prosperity”. During the event, ASTRI signed a partnership agreement with the Beijing Fangshan Yancun Technology Park, to facilitate technology planning, mapping and implementation for the Financial Technologies (FinTech) cluster within the Park. Dr Justin Chuang, ASTRI’s Vice President for Next Generation Network, and Ms Ma Xiaolan, CEO of Internet Financial Security Demonstration Industrial Park, signed the agreement on their respective organisations’ behalf.

    ASTRI, the largest applied R&D institution in the Hong Kong SAR, is a leading technology developer for the financial services sector in Hong Kong and this region. Under this partnership, ASTRI’s R&D expertise will be leveraged to develop and commercialise innovative FinTech tools and platforms in the Mainland, including Blockchain, Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence. In addition to powering FinTech development in the Mainland market using ASTRI’s FinTech Intellectual Property and innovative R&D, the partnership aims to assist the development of specialised technology hubs and industrial parks specifically targeting FinTech innovation.

    Since Hong Kong’s reunion with the country in 1997, the collaboration between Beijing and Hong Kong has seen prolific growth in investment, trade, technological cooperation, cultural exchange and entrepreneurship. By the end of September 2017, investment from Hong Kong in Beijing had reached USD 59.13 billion, accounting for 44.9% of the capital city’s utilised foreign direct investment, according to the Beijing Investment Promotion Bureau. Over the same period, Beijing’s direct investment in the SAR reached USD 26.34 billion, accounting for 44.3% of Beijing’s foreign direct investment. Deeper collaboration in the area of innovation and technology will help Hong Kong and the Mainland to leverage each other’s strengths, and help secure strong, sustainable growth in the country’s economic development.

    ASTRI plays a crucial role in promoting technology and innovation not just for the city, but also for the country. In addition to developing innovative technologies and solutions that benefit industries and communities in Hong Kong, ASTRI also contributes to the city’s innovation and technology development efforts to make the most of national and international mega-programmes like the Belt and Road Initiative, Industry 4.0 Transformation and development of the South China Greater Bay Area.

    Dr Justin Chuang, ASTRI’s Vice President for Next Generation Network, and Ms Ma Xiaolan, CEO of Internet Financial Security Demonstration Industrial Park, signed the agreement
    Dr Justin Chuang (third from left), and Dr James Lei (second from right) of ASTRI, with Ms Ma Xiaolan (third from right) of Internet Financial Security Demonstration Industrial Park, and other officials

    Large crowds flock to ASTRI’s pavilion at InnoCarnival 2017, marvelling innovative solutions and appreciating the power of technology

  • Youngsters and senior citizens alike, a huge mass of science enthusiasts and general public lined up every day at ASTRI’s pavilion in InnoCarnival 2017 from 21 to 29 October 2017. ASTRI’s pavilion covered core technologies in smart city development, including FinTech, Smart City, Industry 4.0 and Next Generation Network. The pavilion was backed by the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) of the HKSAR Government as the funding organisation.

    The major attractions in the pavilion included a simulation ‘Drive Safe’ game that showcased ASTRI’s Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology for connected cars. In addition, a matching game on Internet-of-Things, demonstrations on smart navigation and smart parking applications, FinTech solutions, and an innovative ‘Smart Water Meter’ were in the pavilion’s display manifest. In the nine days of the Carnival, over 8,000 people stepped into ASTRI’s pavilion. They learned about the latest developments in ASTRI’s smart city R&D, and spoke to the Institute’s technology experts.

    In addition, three R&D experts from ASTRI presented in the InnoTalk event on 26 October 2017 on the topic “Smart Technologies for Smart City”. Over 80 participants, representing mostly the young generation, listened to the ASTRI experts and witnessed presentations on three topics:

    1. Cellular V2X (C-V2X) Technologies for Smart Mobility

    2. Real Case System Solutions for Hong Kong Smart City

    3. Deep Learning – Handwritten Chinese Recognition – Automated Document Processing

    InnoCarnival took place as part of the month-long InnoTech campaign organised by ITC. The Carnival aimed to enhance public understanding of, and interest in, innovation and technology, particularly amongst the young generation. The Carnival officially kicked off on 21 October through a ceremony officiated by, among others, Hon Mr Nicholas W Yang, GBS, JP, Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government; Hon Mrs Fanny Law, GBS, JP, Executive Councillor of the HKSAR Government and Chairperson of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation; Mr Cheuk Wing-hing, JP, Permanent Secretary for Innovation and Technology; and Mr Allen Yeung, JP, Government Chief Information Officer.

    Dignitaries who visited the ASTRI pavilion included Hon Mr Nicholas W Yang, GBS, JP, Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government; Ms Annie Choi, JP, Commissioner for Innovation and Technology; Mr Liu Zhi-ming, Associate Counsel of the Central Government’s Liaison Office in HKSAR; Hon Ir Dr Lo Wai-kwok, SBS, MH, JP, Legislative Councillor for the Engineering constituency; and Hon Charles Peter Mok, JP, Legislative Councillor for the Information Technology constituency.

    A number of journalists from print, broadcast and online media organisations also visited the ASTRI pavilion. They covered the R&D projects showcased by ASTRI and interviewed the Institute’s technology experts about latest technological developments. Notably, Ming Pao Daily and Sky Post published feature articles after visiting the ASTRI pavilion. Ming Pao Daily featured ASTRI’s R&D in the area of smart mobility. Sky Post, on the other hand, highlighted ASTRI’s efforts to promote Smart City development through a number of innovative technologies, including C-V2X, Smart Finance, Smart Indoor Navigation and Smart Parking.

    ASTRI’s pavilion in the InnoCarnival carried the theme “Power of Technology ‧Spirit of Hong Kong” – fully supporting the event’s overall theme – “Live Smart‧Be Innovative”.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ASTRI supports Symposium on Innovation and Technology; its Chairman and Board Director join other dignitaries in strategic forum

  • Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, a high-profile symposium on Innovation and Technology was organised in the 37th HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair along with the 21st electronicAsia on 13 October, 2017. The event was attended by a number of senior leaders from Government, Legislature, Technology and Business domains, including Mrs Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor – Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR Government. One of the flagship events at the Fairs was the Symposium on Innovation & Technology under the theme “Connected Living”. ASTRI was a supporting organisation in the programme.

     

    The Symposium opened with the Chief Executive of the HKSAR Government Carrie Lam as the officiating guest. She said that innovation and technology create quality jobs for young people, opportunities for young entrepreneurs, improve people’s livelihood and help power Hong Kong’s future economy. “The Government would adopt the right policies, invest the necessary resources and connect with talents and renowned research institutions”, she added. The Chief Executive also said that in a highly competitive global environment with rapid advancements in the Mainland, Hong Kong needs to promote innovation and technology (I&T) “with the right vision and the right policies”. Mrs Lam told the audience, “Hong Kong is entering a period when opportunities and challenges co-exist. This also applies to I&T development.” She referred to the development taking place across the industrial sector in the South China Greater Bay Area, and how Hong Kong stands to gain from it.

     

    The Symposium featured speakers from technology giants such as Microsoft and Tencent sharing the latest technology developments. Ms Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong Limited, who is also a Board Director of ASTRI, spoke about how mixed reality and intelligent cloud are helping to drive the digital transformation. She explained how Internet of Things – complimented by virtual, augmented and mixed reality – are empowering businesses, engaging customers, transforming products and boosting efficiencies.

     

    Mr Wong Ming-yam, Chairman of ASTRI, moderated a panel discussion on ‘Smartly – We Connect’. Mr Wong facilitated a lively discussion on the roles for start-up ventures, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and technology experts in enabling innovation and fostering positive change. The discussion centred around catalysing a culture of innovation in Hong Kong to fast-track Smart City development. The panel featured two members of the Hong Kong SAR Legislative Council: The Hon Ir Dr Lo Wai-kwok who represents the Engineering functional constituency and The Hon Mr Charles P Mok who represents the Information Technology functional constituency; as well as Mr Chan Yam-ki, Head of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Google Hong Kong; Mr Zane Moi, Head of Business Development for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, Amazon Web Services; and Mr Alex Wong Ka-hang, Director of Solution Sales, Huawei International. The panellists were unanimous in urging the Government to take up a more active role in boosting innovation and technology. The Hon Mr Mok said it was a good sign that the new Policy Address acknowledged that resistance towards technological advancement came partly from within the Government. He hoped that the Government would continue to listen to the industry and build a world of “Connected Living” together.

     

    The day-long symposium covered a series of other topics: smart city, cloud technology, autonomous driving, machine learning, IoT, cellular vehicle-to-everything technology, and artificial intelligence.

     

    ASTRI, as the largest applied R&D institution in Hong Kong, actively pursues sophisticated IoT and communications technologies as well as Smart City applications. ASTRI is well placed to support the industrial sector to leverage the innovative manufacturing technologies while gearing up for ‘Industry 4.0’ and ‘Made in China 2025’.

    Guests and speakers at the Symposium on I&T

     

    Mrs Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR, at the Symposium on I&T

     

    Ms Cally Chan at the Symposium on I&T

     

    Panel Discussion at the Symposium on I&T

     

    Mr Wong Ming-yam at the Symposium on I&T

     

    Chief Executive announces major policy initiatives to boost the SAR’s I&T endeavours

  • Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR, delivered her maiden policy speech today at the Legislative Council. In her speech, the Chief Executive (CE) said in order to sustain the favourable trends for our economy, diversification is the only solution. The current-term Government considers that both innovation and technology (I&T) and creative industries have the competitive edge and much potential, not only to bolster economic growth, but also to create quality employment opportunities for our young people.

    The CE also highlighted the need to catch up in the global I&T race to turn Hong Kong into a global I&T hub. In the 2017 Policy Address, she announced a series of new, major policy initiatives to boost the SAR’s I&T endeavours. She said the Government has set a goal to double the Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product from the current 0.73% to 1.5% within its five‑year tenure. The Government will also step up its efforts in eight key areas in that regard: 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.

    Encouraging significantly greater investment in R&D, the Chief Executive announced HK$10 billion funding for R&D in universities, and major tax deductions for R&D expenditure incurred by businesses enterprises. The Education Bureau is going to offer scholarships worth HK$3 billion to local students admitted to postgraduate research programmes. The Innovation and Technology Bureau will launch a HK$500 million ‘Technology Talent Scheme’, including the establishment of a ‘Postdoctoral Hub’. At the same time, the Government will strive to attract the best overseas talents and scientific research institutions to Hong Kong.

    Announcing an additional HK$700 million investment to “immediately take forward several projects to develop Hong Kong into a smart city”, Mrs Lam said she will personally lead a high-level, inter-departmental Steering Committee on Innovation and Technology to scrutinise and steer measures under the eight areas of I&T and smart city development. The Committee will offer advice to the Government on I&T development to maintain Hong Kong’s competitiveness in the global arena and enhance Hong Kong’s alignment with the development of our country.

    The Chief Executive promised to streamline Government institutions and operations, fostering innovation and collaboration, and embracing smart technologies across all levels of the administration. She put her faith in people – it is the enterprising spirit of the “brilliant Hong Kong people” that has made the city so successful over the past half-century.

    ASTRI welcomes the strong emphasis put in by the HKSAR Government on Innovation and Technology development in Hong Kong. As ever, ASTRI will remain steadfast in our mission to fully align with Government initiatives in I&T, gearing up for cutting-edge R&D efforts to support local economic growth.

     

    Read the full speech here.