Wanted: Talent, R&D for Hong Kong tech incubator

Updated: 2012-06-29 11:02

By Chen Jia and Zhang Qidong in San Francisco (China Daily)

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Wanted: Talent, R&D for Hong Kong tech incubator

E. Anthony Tan, CEO of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, is seeking talent and companies from the US to develop enterprises in the Phase 3 complex at the agency's science park. Zhang Qidong / China Daily

Hong Kong's science and technology development chief visited Silicon Valley this week to talk up the next phase of the industry-incubation park his agency is building and the clean technologies he hopes it will yield.

"China is now the world's largest energy-consuming country and therefore there is a huge need for green-energy products," E. Anthony Tan, CEO of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, said in promoting Phase 3 of the Hong Kong Science Park, an expansion expected to host high-tech companies from around the world once it opens in December 2013.

Tan and his industrial park, which was partially funded by Hong Kong's government 11 years ago, would like those relocated companies to include some from the US, he said at a press conference on Monday in Cupertino, California.

The project will entice companies to locate their research and development of light-emitting diodes, or LED, building-energy management, thin-film photovoltaic solar-energy cells and products used in environmental engineering.

Already, 39 US-based companies have operations in existing facilities at the park and account for about 10 percent of its current roster of 392 incubating enterprises.

Businesses that move in for the park's Phase 3 expansion will get rent subsidies, advice from consultants and incubation services of up to four years, Tan said. They'll also be able to pursue partnerships with industry peers and universities through consultation, training and research.

According to Tan, the biotechnology industry and "green" applications of existing processes or products have been the most common respondents to the park's pitch, based on demand in China and globally.

For example, US-based chemical company EI DuPont de Nemours & Co has been developing thin-film PV solar cells in the park's R&D complex, and the results could lead to much more cost-effective application of energy from the sun.

"We have seen more and more Chinese-Americans returning to Hong Kong and choosing our park as the location of their business entity," Tan said. He cited AppoTech Ltd, a semiconductor maker founded by California-raised Chuck Cheng that moved its R&D to the park in 2006.

"It has grown from a one-man-band into a company with over 500 million Hong Kong dollars [$64 million] in sales revenue," Tan said.

Wanted: Talent, R&D for Hong Kong tech incubator

The Science and Technology Parks Corporation was established by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 2001 to nurture R&D and innovation in advanced technologies. The agency oversees the Hong Kong Science Park, which houses technology companies; InnoCentre, for design enterprises; and three industrial estates in Tai Po, Yuen Long and Tseung Kwan O that cater to sector require works with very advanced skills.

Another success story involving a US company operating at the park is that of Silicon Valley's Nvidia Corp, which is best known for making processors used in gaming and graphics applications.

"If they wish to target the China and Asian markets, companies have to understand how to make products to fit local use. That's the collaborative element that we are providing," Tan said.

Nicholas Brooke, chairman of the Hong Kong agency, said the region "has an opportunity to become a cost-effective center for the commercialization of [technology] products".

"Not only do we have the Chinese mainland market, but we also possess the infrastructure to manufacture products for the global market," he said. "Hong Kong is a digitalized city with high-tech-based infrastructure, as well as being an international transport hub with connections worldwide."

Tan said China needs breakthrough research centers to foster innovation and technological development. What differentiates the park from other industry-building initiatives in China is its R&D component. Many domestic companies, including giants such as Shenzhen-based telecommunications-equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co, have also set up operations at the park.

Tan is especially proud of the park's incubator. "There have been 308 graduates of our incubation program since 1992, among which 233 are still in business and three IPOs. Our success rate is considered to be quite high."

Over 400 jobs in different specialties have been offered so far this year by about 40 companies operating at the park, officials said. It's expected that the Phase 3 expansion will lead to more openings.

"We plan to lure more talent from both the United States and the Chinese mainland," said Andrew Young, the park's vice-president of marketing and sales.

Contact the writers at chenjia@chinadailyusa.com and kellyzhang@chinadailyusa.com