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Hong Kong has finally launched some welcome strategic initiatives in the important area of innovation and technology. This is vital if we are to stay competitive as a modern

city, including through the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB) last year. Leung Chun-ying's latest full-term Policy Address discussed these important issues.

While strategic plans toward enhancing facilities and resources for conducting local research and development, supporting information and communications technology (ICT) startups, propelling smart-city development or positioning Hong Kong in the Belt and Road Initiative, are encouraging, the government needs to further take tangible action and address issues in the area of ICT talent cultivation and achieving innovation.

In terms of funding, while it is most welcome - be it the Applied Research Fund, Cyberport Macro Fund, Innovation and Technology Venture Fund or Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living - we look forward to further details on their respective criteria regarding grants.

Similarly, we should also welcome the government's efforts at revitalizing Hong Kong with high value-added and high tech-based manufacturing, its aggressive plan to double free Wi-Fi hotspots, the Open Data project for both the public and private sectors, and standards and framework on big data and smart city. However, merely enhancing infrastructure and hardware is not going to unleash Hong Kong's full potential.

The talent shortage in ICT is a huge obstacle to successfully develop Hong Kong into a knowledge-based economy. The government, which has failed to address this urgent need, must provide immediate support for the training and cultivation of ICT talents and skills which have long been greatly sought after by all disciplines, industries and sectors.

Meanwhile, the strategic focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education is much appreciated and helpful to our future, in the near and medium term. However, emphasis on ICT human talent has not been given the level of support provided to, for example, the aviation industry, or the finance and insurance sector.

Finally, we hope to see preferences given to local ICT companies, especially our startups, in the government's procurement of ICT products and services that are conceived, designed and produced in Hong Kong. This initiative would provide, as in many other economies, the impetus for effective recognition, product and service verification and credible references, not only for our ICT companies but also for the whole industry in "going global

Michael Leung, president of Hong Kong Computer Society

(HK Edition 01/29/2016 page10)

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