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26 Apr 2017

Fostering Innovation

Albert Wong

Ahead of his appearance at Cloud Expo Asia Keynote Theatre 2017, HKSTP CEO Albert Wong talks to John Bensalhia about the facilities and offerings of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation

Pullout quote: “Hong Kong has great input for innovation and technology, including our education, R&D capability, mature and international business environment, and proximity to the biggest markets in the world.”

Data collaborative applications will be on the agenda at Cloud Expo Asia's Keynote Theatre this May. Presenting a talk on this subject will be Albert Wong, CEO of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation.

“While many organisations have started its IoT transformation and generate enormous business data in every second, little of it has been aggregated, analysed and used to enhance efficiency,” says Albert. “At the same time, software developers lack channels to access data owners and datasets.”

One notable initiation of HKSTP is the Data Studio @SP project which bridges data owners and developers for collaborative data applications. “We encourage organisations to share data through our secured portal, where software developer community can innovate and build applications that benefit data owners, developers and users at the same time.”

Data Studio @SP is also a strategic move for Hong Kong to develop its data ecosystem. “We are actively reaching out to data owners and assist them to overcome the technical barrier for data sharing,” explains Albert. “This will unleash the socio-economic benefit in business data and create value for the community.”  An engineer by training, Albert has been in this field for his whole career. Prior to joining HKSTP, Albert spent 15 years in General Electric and most of the time in China. He joined HKSTP as Chief Corporate Development Officer in February 2016 and was appointed CEO six months later.

“My mission here is to build an ecosystem in Hong Kong to drive development in Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” explains Albert. “The ecosystem will help start-ups to succeed, create jobs, generate economic value for Hong Kong and solve the challenges we are facing.”

Albert believes that building new industries around technological innovation is critical for Hong Kong’s sustainable growth. “The innovation and technology industry will provide alternative opportunities,” he says. “Something other than the service industries – to our younger generation. Hong Kong has great input for innovation and technology, including our education, R&D capability, mature and international business environment, and proximity to the biggest markets in the world.”

“What we need to do in HKSTP is to catalyse the R&D commercialisation process and turn more great ideas and research results into solutions and products that bring social and economic benefits to mankind.”

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation is a statutory body, owned by HKSAR Government, to manage Hong Kong Science Park, InnoCentre and three Industrial Estates in Hong Kong. “Our core mission is to foster a vibrant innovation and technology ecosystem in Hong Kong for technological businesses and start-ups to succeed which in turn empowers the city’s diversified economic growth and societal development,” says Albert.

Hong Kong Science Park houses more than 630 technology enterprises from electronics, ICT, biomedical technology, green technology and materials and precision engineering. “We also run one of the largest technology incubators in town with over 260 incubatee companies in programme,” adds Albert. “By clustering enterprises of different size, expertise and stage of development, Science Park is the largest R&D community in Hong Kong for like-minded talents who all aim at developing innovative products and solutions that bring socio-economic benefit.”

HKSTP identified three technology application platforms: namely Healthy Ageing, Robotics and Smart Cities: “Where the technology start-up community, businesses and industrial stakeholders can join hands to develop and apply innovative technology and noble ideas, turning them into products and solutions that will solve the problems and challenges we are faced with,” says Albert.

First up is the Healthy Ageing application platform. In 2016, Hong Kong has 16.6% of population that are aged 65 or above, but by 2041, that percentage is due to grow to 32%. “The increasingly senile population brings stress to our labour force, healthcare service provision and living quality.,” says Albert. “Technology plays a vital role in helping our elderly people age healthily, actively and independently.”

Recently, the “Smart Living @ Science Park – Ageing in Place” exhibition was opened to demonstrate various technology applications in daily living, health monitoring, home safety and rehabilitation for elderly people in a home environment. “Moreover, we have over 80 biomedical technology companies in Science Park working on the R&D of preventive medicine, therapeutics, nutrition and rehabilitation, all making considerable impact to the way we live and age.”

The second of the technology application platforms, Robotics, covers a wide range of core technologies including sensors, actuators, artificial intelligence, computer vision, connectivity, power electronics and many more.

“Robotics plays a key role in advanced manufacturing, industrial automation and new modes of services,” says Albert. “The “Robotics Garage” in Science Park is a makerspace to provide equipment and training to early-stage entrepreneurs to create their prototype and validate concept. We have also hosted the first EVTech Hackathon last year where developers spent 10 days together to build the first 100% “Built and Designed in Hong Kong” concept electric vehicle.”

Finally, there is Smart Cities. “Hong Kong is one of the densest cities in the world,” comments Albert. “Our focus is to enhance mobility, sustainability and liveability through big data. While Smart Cities cover a wide spectrum of applications, a data ecosystem is the core and critical component for innovators to develop solutions for any industries and purposes.”

HKSTP launched the Data Studio @SP earlier this year to encourage business data owners to share data for collaboration with software developers. “We will organise thematic competitions to stimulate data innovations to tackle various city challenges during the year.”

In terms of nurturing talents, HKSTP runs a series of start-up support programmes to help technology entrepreneurs to turn idea into commercial reality. “We encounter entrepreneurs from various stages,” explains Albert. “Some come with an idea to realise, some have a prototype and formulating its business model, and even some with mature products who wants to scale up.”

Besides office space, HKSTP provides different programmes and value added services to accommodate their business needs, including Incubation Programmes, LEAP (Leading Enterprises Acceleration Programme), angel and VC investment matching, and a marketing outreach programme called “Technologies from Science Park”.

HKSTP hosted the first in Asia “Elevator World Tour TM” in Oct 2016, where 100 start-ups took 60-second in the elevator of ICC to pitch for US$120,000 seed investment. “It was an exciting occasion to see many like-minded individuals as well as prospective projects gather and exchange,” comments Albert. Meanwhile, in March 2017, the “SciTech Challenge 2017” was also introduced: a strategic collaboration amongst HKSTP, Arrow Electronics and Indiegogo to turn participants’ idea into products, crowd-fund for support and eventually, manufacture and ship them.

“Arrow Electronics provides engineering expertise in prototype development and manufacturing, while Indiegogo contributes insight to sales and marketing especially on a crowd funding platform,” says Albert.

“Winners and high potential finalists are welcome to join HKSTP’s Incubation Programmes for further development and scale up their businesses.”

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