One of the bureau's priorities should be tech talent cultivation. Employers have a hard time hiring tech pros with four to five years of experience after the tech bubble burst. In the long term, the bureau needs to build professional recognition for IT pros--this will encourage more young and brilliant people to step into the field.
KW: The ICT industry unanimously believes that it needs the TCB because technology is never the focus of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) under the current government structure.
To develop Hong Kong's ICT industry, we need both the TCB and a bureau chief who understands technology and has a vision on how tech can contribute to the local economy. Previously senior officials in the government mainly came from a legal or economics background, without technology knowledge or insights. As a result, the implementation of ICT related policies were always delayed. The government has wasted so much time and missed lots of opportunities to create a stronger local tech industry.
What do you expect the TCB to achieve within the first 12-18 months?
SL: It must come up with policies and a master implementation plan for the tech and innovation sector development. The bureau must also have tech priorities and allocate funds to projects according to those priorities. While some people might argue the government shouldn't specify tech priorities, we must focus limited resources on the most valuable projects.
It takes talent to keep tech and innovation going, thus the bureau must have a policy to create a healthy supply. Last but not least, the bureau must work out a policy to allow the local tech sector to complement the development of its mainland counterpart.
ML: It should take SMBs--the majority of Hong Kong's business community--seriously. For instance, the bureau should speed up the endorsement of the use of e-bills and e-checks--these will benefit SMBs. We are so behind--we can no longer rest on our Octopus (http://www.octopus.com.hk/home/en/index.html) laurels.
The bureau must also work on a city cloud and datacenter land supply. Without a long-term land supply policy, Hong Kong can't become a regional datacenter hub. I can assure you that factory buildings can't satisfy datacenter requirements. China Construction Bank needs to rent another floor for its datacenter in a Sha Tin factory building for more power supply. For top-tier datacenters, dual-power sources is a must--this we can get from China.
KW: The TCB can create a system to drive innovation by encouraging tech entrepreneurship and creating job opportunities.
To develop successful tech entrepreneurs, we need a system that helps prioritize and review R&D funding. Although the government plans to increase research funding from 0.73% of our GDP to 0.8%, the number is still much smaller than those in countries like China where funding will see a hike from 1.7% of GDP to 2.2% by the end of the 12th Five-Year plan period.
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