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More than 30 companies to invest HK$30 billion in Hong Kong to help ‘spur city’s rise’ as I&T hub

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He added: “These smart strategic companies and the many more that follow in the coming months and years will help spur Hong Kong’s rise as an innovation and technology centre.”

Hong Kong is building a innovation and tech hub along the border, known as the Northern Metropolis. Photo: May Tse

More than 200 companies have been contacted by the authorities in a bid to attract strategic enterprises to the city and the number is expected to grow to almost 300 by the end of the year.

Twenty of the 30 companies took part in the signing ceremony, which was also attended by senior executives and leaders of businesses that were close to closing deals.

“They represent a lot of money, big dollar signs. So this is a very precious moment,” Lee said.

Eighty per cent of the 30 enterprises were from the mainland, including top names such as tech giant Huawei, e-commerce company JD and food delivery operator Meituan.

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British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Sirnaomics, a US-based biomedical company, were among the overseas companies that had signed up and which attended the event.

But a government source said some companies wanted to keep a low profile so they did not attend.

The government did not name the absent companies out of respect for their wish to remain anonymous at present.

Lee pointed to the “one country, two systems” principle as allowing the city to offer “unparalleled connectivity” between the mainland and the rest of the world and said Hong Kong was a value-adding conduit between Chinese and overseas enterprises.

He added the government would continue to attract top-grade staff from overseas as the city’s enhanced talent admission schemes had attracted more than 160,000 applications from around the world, with over 100,000 of them already approved.

Finance chief Chan said the government “truly values” the partnership between it and businesses that motivated all sides to work together to realise the city’s ambition to become an I&T hub.

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Hong Kong’s trusted legal system and access to mainland and global markets, as well as its ecosystem of private equity and venture capital, could help companies grow, he added.

“The future looks good for Hong Kong, awfully good for all of us,” Chan said.

OASES was announced in Lee’s policy address last year.

The initiative was designed to encourage cutting-edge companies in areas such as health, artificial intelligence and big data to set up or expand their businesses in Hong Kong.

The office is tasked with drawing up a list of targeted enterprises, carrying out negotiations, formulating incentives covering land, tax and financing, and helping companies secure work visas for staff.

Ken Wong Kin-hang, the president of mainland tech giant Lenovo Solutions and Services Group, one of the companies which has signed up, said they planned to set up a research centre in Hong Kong to focus on the development of Cantonese generative artificial intelligence.

Wong said the centre, the first of its kind for the company, would partner with other research institutions in the city.

He added negotiations to set up a partnership had already entered the final stages.

Wong said Hong Kong was an important market for Lenovo and praised the city’s mainland and overseas links, as well as the supply of manpower from more than 30 tertiary institutions.

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Sirnaomics set up a research centre in the Science Park in March and is also planning to further expand its business and set up a manufacturing plant in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, an area close to the border to be developed as a major innovation and technology centre.

Nigel Yip Wing-kei, the company’s chief financial officer, said it planned to hire about 150 people more to fuel its expansion.

He added the company was also ready to invest up to US$90 million for the developments in the Lok Ma Chau Loop and at the Science Park.

Yip said his company was attracted by Hong Kong’s good supply of talent and the global recognition gained by its pharmaceutical industry.

“Hong Kong has sufficient manpower … we saw there is a supply of talent in biotechnology,” Yip said. “Pharmaceutical products manufactured in Hong Kong could also be used in clinical trials globally. This is Hong Kong’s advantage … something that the mainland cannot do at the moment.”

Yuanhua Technology, a mainland company specialising in medical robotics, said it also wanted to use Hong Kong to bring its products to the international market.

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Max Meng Qinghu, the company’s chief scientist, said the company was attracted by the international nature of the city.

“The city’s connectivity to the international world … and the mentality of the students nurtured here are different from mainland students,” Meng said. “We hope to recruit science students trained locally.”

He added that he believed the company could benefit from the central government’s Belt and Road Initiative, a plan to grow global trade, and have its products promoted to the countries involved.

“We hope the government can provide us some convenient measures in this regard, instead of just giving us a certain amount of subsidy,” he said.

Article was originally published from here

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