Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam proposed a series of policies on Wednesday to promote closer cooperation between Hong Kong and the neighbouring Greater Bay Area, and unveiled more details on the development of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Cooperation Zone (SITZ).

During her 2020 policy address speech, Lam said Hong Kong and Shenzhen are on the way to creating a “one zone, two parks” development near the cities’ borders. The SITZ will consist of two areas: the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, on the Hong Kong side, and on the other side of the border the Shenzhen Futian Innovation and Technology Zone.

First phase of the HK-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Zone. Photo: LegCo.

The park’s development plan was first announced in 2017, with further implementation details unveiled in the policy address. It is also one of the 24 areas Lam consulted the Central People’s Government and the Shenzhen municipal government about during her visit this month.

The plan seeks to “complement advantages for both Hong Kong and Shenzhen,” said a government source. “Hong Kong is better at STEM research, while Shenzhen is better at manufacturing and application of advanced technologies.” 

The source also said Hong Kong Science Park is currently at nearly full capacity, and therefore the new tech zone is needed to satisfy future demand. 

The Hong Kong side of the zone will be situated in the Lok Ma Chau Loop. Upon completion, the first phase will comprise eight blocks, containing wet labs, dry labs, offices, superior education facilities, and a number of temporary residential units for visiting workers. 

HK$60 billion price tag

HK$60 billion have been earmarked for the development plan, including HK$13 billion for the construction of surrounding infrastructure, HK$17.2 billion for the construction of eight building blocks, and HK$20 billion to be spent on land flattening. 

The first plot of land will be handed over by the end next year to Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park Limited (HSITP), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Science Park Corporation, a government source told HKFP. Two buildings with wet labs and one “InnoCell” building – around 100 temporary housing units for temporary workers in the zone – are expected to be completed by 2024. 

More labs in the innovation and tech park. File photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The wet labs are expected to be utilised for research and development by start-ups and enterprises especially in the biotech sectors, the government source said. The housing units will be in the style of hotel, serviced apartments or dormitories designed to house workers who might stay over in the zone. No property sales are planned for the zone, whether commercial or residential.  

Meanwhile, Science Park Corp will lease and manage one or two existing blocks from the neighbouring Shenzhen Futian Innovation and Technology Zone, and then sublease these units to businesses that wish to move into the area before the first batch of buildings in the joint zone are completed. No public funds will be used for such rentals, and details about taxation or intellectual property jurisdiction are still to be determined, the source said.

Correction April 7, 2021: A previous version of this article stated that two buildings with wet labs and one “InnoCell” building were to be completed by 2014, in fact the completion should be due for 2024.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.