Deeper cross-boundary cooperation key to turning bay area into world's leading inno-tech center
Prominent scientists and prestigious universities in Hong Kong are
looking to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area project as a
driver of deeper cross-boundary cooperation in various sectors,
particularly innovation and technology.
Executive Vice-President and Provost of the Hong Kong University of
Science and Technology Shyy Wei told China Daily the university has for a
long time been committed to the GBA, considering the project's
potential in innovation and technology.
Currently a rising star among the world's well-known higher-education
institutions, HKUST is in close talks with Guangzhou authorities to set
up a branch in the city.
Shyy has a clear vision for the branch inside the bay area. He said
the new branch should complement the Hong Kong campus by focusing on
things that can't be done, or are difficult to complete, in Hong Kong.
Good cooperation between the new campus and Hong Kong's mirrors that
between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, Shyy said, switching to
scientific terminology in saying the cooperation should create chemical
(irreversible) reactions, rather than temporary physical reactions.
Synergy between the Hong Kong campus and Guangzhou campus is vital,
"otherwise, we will be just expanding our campus by adding more space",
Shyy envisioned that the new campus will focus on manufacturing
engineering, where Hong Kong currently falls short, to complete the
innovation cycle, which begins when an idea is conceived and continues
with upstream research and development processes.
In September last year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a
world-renowned tech education giant, set up its first offshore
innovation node in Hong Kong, hoping to leverage Hong Kong's proximity
to Shenzhen and unique geographic advantage in the GBA.
In noting this, Shyy - who is also the chair professor of mechanical
and aerospace engineering at HKUST - said world-renowned institutions
sent students to Hong Kong to equip them with the latest developments in
the bay area, fearing they would lose their competitive edges in
development if they failed to understand or participate in the area.
This demand is Hong Kong's strong suit and the city is sitting in the bay area, there is no reason to stand by, Shyy said.
The bay area's potential to become Asia or even the world's leader in
terms of innovation and technology has attracted not only world
renowned institutions but also talents such as Tim Cheng, who gave up
his more than 30-year career in the United States and joined the
university two years ago as the dean of engineering at HKUST.
"Without doubt, the bay area will become a major economic impetus to
the world's development of innovation and technology in 10 years," Cheng
Describing the creation of the GBA as an opportunity that "fell from
the sky", Cheng said it is a good chance for Hong Kong to make its
structural reforms and move from a service-based economy to a
Cheng, who will retire in 15 years, said the world's innovation and
technology focus has shifted inevitably from North America to Asia over
the decades. The bay area is where he would like to spend the final
stages in his career, Cheng added.
The veteran scientist in artificial intelligence and electronic
engineering said his two-year experience in Hong Kong proved that his
choice of coming to the bay area is a smart and wise one. The future
arena for talents in innovation and technology sectors is here inside
the GBA, whose high-tech manufacturing ecosystem already shines in the
world, Cheng said.
Apart from the engineering sector, Chan Wai-yee, professor and
director of the School of Biomedical Sciences at the Chinese University
of Hong Kong, believed Hong Kong will miss out a lot if it failed to
join the nation in its development, especially in research and
Despite having abundant talents and upstream of R&D, Hong Kong
would have to partner with the mainland for resources, funding and
policy development if it wishes to stay competitive, Chan added.
Despite the obvious potential in the GBA, the city's scientists have
long been frustrated by policy barriers that hold back further and
deeper integration. On top of the list is the restriction of R&D
funding granted by the nation.
Earlier, the restriction to only use funds on the mainland was
relaxed gradually after proposals were made over the years. But only
Hong Kong partners of the State Key Laboratories benefit from that
exception. There are still constraints on other-level labs, Chan said.
He also noted that samples of human cells and blood are not allowed
to be shipped to Hong Kong, which greatly hinders the industry's
integration with the nation's development. That is because the mainland
has a bigger pool of samples, which is valuable in terms of genetic
research, the veteran biomedical scientist noted.
The Hong Kong Baptist University will also make forays into the bay
area, particularly with an attempt to deepen cross-boundary cooperation
in its strong suit - traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM.
"The university will make full use of its cooperation with the
Beijing Normal University - the United International College in Zhuhai -
to achieve their bay area objectives in the pipeline," President of
HKBU Roland Chin Tai-hong told China Daily in a gathering with the
city's press. The United International College is the first full-scale
cooperation in higher education between the mainland and Hong Kong,
where graduates are awarded degrees by the HKBU.
With the existing platform, HKBU will have "a series of plans" in the bay area.
Chin did not elaborate much on future plans, but TCM, one of the
university's most prominent fields, may become the first to make the
With Hong Kong's world-renowned quality control system and the bay
area's massive market, Hong Kong's TCM products will have better
prospects in the nation's top development strategy, said Bian Zhaoxiang,
associate vice-president on Chinese medicine development at HKBU.
Meanwhile, as the GBA blueprint gains higher international status and
is expected to form a synergy with the global Belt and Road Initiative,
the TCM's internationalization should have a major push, Bian said.