Financial Secretary Paul Chan has announced that HK$5.5 billion will be earmarked for the development of Cyberport 5, and HK$16 billion will be set aside for government-funded universities to refurbish campus facilities for research and development.

During his 2019 budget speech at the legislature on Wednesday, Chan spoke about the importance of diversifying the economy. He said the government needs to ensure quality infrastructure to attract information technology talent and facilitate the operation of IT enterprises: “One cannot make bricks without straw,” he said.

Paul Chan
Paul Chan. Photo:

He said Cyberport – an IT hub on Hong Kong Island – has built a digital technology ecosystem with 1,200 companies and start-ups, and has nurtured over 500 start-ups. HK$5.5 billion will be earmarked for the development of a new phase for Cyberport.

“This will serve to attract more quality technology companies and start-ups to set up their offices in Cyberport and provide a pathway for young people to pursue a career in I&T. The expansion project is expected to provide about 66 000 square metres of floor area, and include facilities such as offices, co-working space, conference venues and data service platforms,” he said.

The government will proceed with the statutory town planning procedures with a view to commencing construction in 2021 for completion in 2024 at the earliest.

Cyberport. Photo: Arup.

The annual budget did not have a particular section on education, but it included several education-related IT measures.

The government will set aside HK$16 billion for University Grants Committee-funded universities to refurbish campus facilities, in particular those for research and development activities, such as labs.

“I hope that universities will, in developing or enhancing hardware, give due and priority consideration to I&T needs to ensure that their teaching and research facilities can meet the objective of nurturing I&T talent,” Chan said.

There will be an increase of HK$2,000 in the monthly allowance for local graduates sponsored by the Researcher Programme to join the IT industry as researchers, with immediate effect. Researchers with a bachelor’s degree will receive a monthly allowance of HK$18,000, and those with a master’s degree will receive HK$21,000 per month.

University Grants Committee
University Grants Committee. Photo: Stand News.

HK$500 million will be deployed to implement the IT Innovation Lab in Secondary Schools Programme in the coming three school years.

Chan also said he planned to inject HK$2 billion into the Innovation and Technology Fund to launch a re-industrialisation funding scheme to subsidise manufacturers on a matching basis to help them set up smart production lines in Hong Kong, after seeking approval from the legislature.

“These initiatives for developing real high-end production will help reduce our economy’s over-reliance on service industries,” he said.

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.