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Speech by FS at HSBC-ASTRI Research and Development Innovation Laboratory launch ceremony

Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the launch ceremony of the HSBC-ASTRI Research and Development Innovation Laboratory today (October 31):

Peter (Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC), Mr Peter Wong), M Y (Chairman of the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), Mr Wong Ming-yam), Howard (Senior Executive Director of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Mr Howard Lee), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

I am pleased to join you all this afternoon.

Today we are not sending a rocket into deep space, but I am confident that today's welcome joint effort - this collaborative business blast-off - will carry Hong Kong further, and indeed faster, into the boundless promise of financial technology.

Innovative technology is a proven driver of economic growth. It can help diversify our economy, expand employment opportunities, enhance competitiveness of industries as well as improve our quality of life. Cutting-edge technologies, such as big data analytics, AI, cloud computing, virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics and whatnot, can kick-start new ideas, nurture start-ups and revitalise traditional industries.

This is the reason why Government has been putting in tremendous efforts over recent years towards achieving the goal of nurturing a knowledge-based economy, fostering an innovative and technology-friendly culture in our community, as well as creating a healthy eco-system for technological entrepreneurship and start-ups.

And this is the reason why I have allocated some $18 billion in my government budget this year to support development as well as application of innovative technologies.

These initiatives range from the promotion of smart production and funding for research in tertiary institutions, to cash rebate in order to encourage more R&D in the private sector.

Among other things, we are also setting up a $2 billion Innovation and Technology Venture Fund, to partner with private venture-capital funds to invest in local technology start-ups.

Money alone, of course, is no guarantee of major innovation. Which is why we have been busy connecting local stakeholders, while attracting international talent and prestigious institutions to Hong Kong.

A dozen overseas institutions, innovation labs, incubators and accelerator programmes have already found their way to Hong Kong, making good use of our R&D prowess and our unique strengths.

Accenture, for example, one of the leading global professional services companies in the world, has established its FinTech Innovation Lab in Hong Kong in 2014, following similar programmes of the company in New York and London, while both the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Wearable IoT World Labs from San Francisco launched their innovation labs in Hong Kong just earlier this year.

In recent months, we have welcomed two of the world's leading institutions to Hong Kong: the renowned MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) opened its first overseas Innovation Node here, while Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, a storied medical university, established its first overseas research base at the Hong Kong Science Park.

Fintech is definitely one of our major priorities. We shall be creating a dedicated working space to support 150 start-ups over the next few years, and we shall be arranging some 300 university students to join Fintech training camps in overseas institutions. We are also bringing up the next generation of Fintech talent to drive development of various technologies, from cyber security to blockchain.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has recently launched a supervisory sandbox to facilitate trials and development of Fintech. I am certain that we shall be seeing more and more pioneering Fintech applications coming out in the market soon.

And you will have a chance to check out the latest banking and financial technology innovations out there at the first ever Hong Kong Fintech Week, starting from next Monday.

And now, I am proud to say, we have the HSBC-ASTRI Research and Development Innovation Laboratory to add to our fast-expanding I&T sector. This collaboration between one of the world's biggest and most prestigious banking groups and our own Applied Science and Technology Research Institute is both timely and opportune. And I have no doubt that it will expand Hong Kong's Fintech world, creating innovative opportunities that will reward us all.

Thank you very much.


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