Secretary for Information and Technology Nicholas Yang says Cyberport was given funds to promote e-sports because it has strong network facilities for live internet streaming.

Wednesday’s annual budget set aside HK$50 billion for innovation and technology. Of which, HK$100 million will be allocated to Cyberport to make its Arcade a local e-sports and digital entertainment node providing a competition venue for competitive gaming.

Support will also be provided for the e-sports sector in areas such as technological development and the nurturing of talent.

Cyberport Arcade
Cyberport Arcade. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Wikipedia user -Wpcpey.

Yang clarified at a press conference on Thursday that the Arcade will not be the sole location for e-sports and he will be happy to see other locations being developed as well.

“Cyberport was chosen because it has strong network facilities. To develop e-sports, to provide live streaming of competitions, we need a strong and stable network – this is something that Cyberport can provide,” he said.

“Our goal is to create a new industry,” he said.

He said he supports the idea of granting sports status to e-sports, but it was not within his bureau’s power: “It is not our call. The Olympics are decided upon by the Olympic Committee; the Asian Games are decided upon by Olympic Council of Asia.”

Nicholas Yang
Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang. Photo: GovHK.

The rest of the HK$50 billion included HK$20 billion for the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, HK$10 billion for the Innovation and Technology Fund, and HK$10 billion to support the establishment of two research clusters on healthcare technologies and on artificial intelligence and robotics technology.

Another HK$10 billion will be allocated to the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC). Of this, around HK$3 billion will be used to construct research-related infrastructure and facilities, and the rest will be used to enhance support for its tenants and incubatees, and set up a Smart Campus, among other projects.

Cyberport will also be allocated another HK$200 million to enhance support for start-ups and promote the development of a digital technology ecosystem.

Yang said the bureau will ensure the funds are used well: “We understand the purposes of the funds. Each set of funds will have to be used in a timely manner.”

Hong Kong Science Park
Hong Kong Science Park. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Asked if the government was favouring the HKSTPC since Cyberport was only given HK$300 million, Yang said the HKSTPC was a public corporation, and Cyberport is a private one.

Permanent Secretary for Innovation and Technology Cheuk Wing-hing said that it was reasonable to fund the HKSTPC because there should be a base for IT development.

Cheuk said the board of the HKSTPC is appointed by the government, and the bureau has been working with it – thus, the bureau was not concerned about losing controlling power.

2018 budget in full:

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.