Tech park visits Bay Area

Updated: 2014-01-20 10:36

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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A resource that provides both the 'hardware' and 'software' for ideas

A delegation from Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKTSPC) is visiting the San Francisco Bay Area this week coaching US businesses on how they can take advantage of the facilities and services provided by this hub of innovation in Asia.

"Chinese scientists and engineers have made significant contributions to the success of Silicon Valley over the past 40 years and they all have strong ties with their hometowns in China or Hong Kong," Allen Ma, CEO of HKTSPC, told China Daily in San Francisco.

"Today people mingle frequently between these three regions and the result has been many new ideas being generated and ventures being set up," he said.

Phases one and two of the science park were completed in 2004 and 2007 respectively.Today it is home to some 440 companies with 10,000 employees, 70 percent of whom are engaged in research and development. The current occupancy rate is 96 percent.

In the next three months, phase three of the park will make available around 600,000 square feet of premium quality R&D space, aimed at attracting more international innovators to come develop their ideas.

HKSTPC's Chairman Nick Brooke told China Daily "Soft Landing" isa program they made available to newcomers to Hong Kong looking for business opportunities in the innovation and technology fields.

"Our objective is to make their arrival as smooth as possible. This includes financial assistance and many different forms of business support," he said.

Hong Kong Science Park is also unique in the sense that it provides not only the hardware like office space, lab space, but also the software like networking opportunities, seminars and intellectual property rights assistance, he added.

"Such software could be very helpful for a company in the development stage," Paul Cheng, CEO of Bio-cancer Treatment International, told China Daily.

"At the HK Science Park we are building a critical mass of scientists as well as scientific projects so as to maintain an impetus in the development of biotechnological science.

"They provide the hardware and equipment that otherwise we could not afford to buy and use," he said.

Bio-Cancer was established in early 2001 and incubated at the HK Polytechnic University where Cheng and his team tested drugs on mice with varying types of tumors.

In 2008, when it was time to move on to the clinical phase of the drug's development, they moved to the HK Science and Technology Park.

"I don't think we have an HK Silicon Valley at the Science Park, at least not now. We are only at the beginning of biotech in HK. Hopefully, with more innovative companies like us we can build this up in the next few decades," he said.

For Benjamin Li, CEO of Lees Pharmaceuticals, the trip's mission is to expand cooperation with US peers, with "one or two agreements envisaged to be signed" soon in the Bay Area, thanks to the help of the science parks.

As a biopharmaceutical company started and headquartered in Hong Kong, Li's company joined the science park family soon after it opened its doors to biotech companies in 2005.

Back in 2007, the development of their proprietary drug was at an impasse as they struggled with the purification of a targeted protein.

During an event organized by the park, Li was invited to meet a biotech delegation from Beijing.

Through networking, he found a company represented in the delegation that had the expertise they desperately needed.

We quickly established a partnership with them and were able to purify the protein and successfully move the project to clinical development, he said.

"Without the help of the science park, I would never have been able to advance our drug," he said.

Tech park visits Bay Area

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC)'s Chairman Nick Brooke listens to a speech by Benjamin Li, CEO of the Lees Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd during his visit to the Bay Area on Wednesday. Chen Jia / China Daily

(China Daily USA 01/20/2014 page2)