Global Engagement Proves Key to the Greater Bay Area
Since the unveiling of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) initiative in 2017, companies around the world have been building GBA strategies into their business models.
Across business sectors, Hong Kong companies are incorporating GBA-centred policies to grow their expertise and build partner networks, and to be recognised as a leading worldwide platform for the development of cutting-edge products and services linked to biotechnology.
Among corporate giants
One of the world’s most technologically advanced companies, Germany-based Siemens has been active in Hong Kong for more than 100 years. “Our company creates innovative solutions for city infrastructure that makes Hong Kong smarter, with five priorities: enabling clean energy, developing digital manufacturing, building smart city clusters, driving innovations and nurturing talent,” said Eric Chong, president and chief executive officer, Siemens Hong Kong.
“As an international metropolis, Hong Kong can serve as a technological hub and a window to attract digital talent and capital from across the globe, and to foster innovation and co-creation.”
Eric Chong, president and chief executive officer, Siemens Hong Kong
In recent years, Siemens has worked with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) to develop the Smart City Digital Hub. “This supports the ambitions of Hong Kong to become a smart city,” said Mr Chong, adding that the hub assists researchers active in the fields of smart building, smart energy and smart mobility. “It aims to create an innovative ecosystem and tackle city challenges.”
Siemens also actively participates in the Hong Kong SAR government’s Smart City initiatives in developing “living labs” in Kowloon East, a pilot area exploring the feasibility of citywide smart technologies. “This further cements the government’s will to realise the vision articulated in the GBA blueprint.”
Collaboration, Mr Chong believes, will be vital to realising the goals of the GBA. “As an international metropolis, Hong Kong can serve as a technological hub and a window to attract digital talent and capital from across the globe, and to foster innovation and co-creation,” he said, highlighting MindSphere, which is Siemens’ cloud-based, open Internet of Things (IoT) operating system.
The company through memoranda of understanding, will join forces with key stakeholders in Hong Kong, such as the Mass Transit Railway Corporation, CLP Group, Smart City Consortium, Vocational Training Council and air cargo service provider Cathay Pacific Services to bring mobility and urban tech innovation into the GBA by building better connectivity with the area’s thriving innovation and start-up community, investors and other stakeholders.
Mr Chong added that Hong Kong – being so densely populated – faces challenges, as do other GBA cities. “As such it is an ideal laboratory for piloting many proofs of concept that can demonstrate the value of innovations that can drive digitalisation, decarbonisation and decentralisation.”
The GBA, Mr Chong said, provides a unique opportunity for concepts that work in Hong Kong to be eventually scaled up to cover the extended GBA megalopolis.
Building up Biotech
In the field of medical- and biotechnology, it is anticipated that Hong Kong’s expertise in innovation and Guangdong’s in production will come together to create a leading medical-devices hub in the GBA.
“Hong Kong can spearhead biotech, and act as a business platform for innovative companies looking to access the Asia market, and mainland China in particular.”
Albert Yu, chairman of the Hong Kong Biotechnology Organization
“Hong Kong will capitalise on its advantages in R&D capabilities, technological infrastructure, legal system and intellectual property to spearhead the innovation and technology industry,” said Prof Albert Yu, chairman of the Hong Kong Biotechnology Organization (HKBIO). “Hong Kong can spearhead biotech, and act as a business platform for innovative companies looking to access the Asia market, and mainland China in particular, or for mainland innovative companies to go international.”
The listing rules adopted by the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong in 2018 allow pre-revenue biotech companies to be listed. “A first in Asia, it ensures more capital can flow freely towards a sector that has been largely deprived in the region until recently,” said Prof Yu. “Owing to its geopolitical advantage, its large number of world-class universities and its position as a leading biotech IPO market in Asia, Hong Kong has the potential to be at the centre of Asia’s biotech evolution.”
Prof Yu points to the vibrancy of Hong Kong’s start-up scene, which has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years. Several incubators and accelerators offer comprehensive incubation programmes to start-ups, promoting the local biotech scene and the city’s extensive experience in commercialising innovative technologies for industrial applications, as well as for branding and marketing. “There is no better place to bring biotech companies from East and West together,” he said.
HKBIO plans to present the BIOHK2020 Convention in August in Hong Kong and hopes to open a new chapter both for the local biotech industry and the city itself. “It offers many opportunities to engage with global industry leaders,” said Prof Yu, who is also founder of Hai Kang Life Corporation, a Hong Kong-based molecular diagnostic company. “We would like to create a platform to bring international biotech for Chinese companies looking to expand abroad.”
Agent of global connectivity
The port of Barcelona in north-eastern Spain moves 3.5m containers a year and 23 per cent of those either come from or end up in China. The European cargo harbour sees Hong Kong as the main driver of its business with the GBA. “The port of Hong Kong is a very important player in China’s huge economy,” said Juan Dedeu, China representative of Port de Barcelona.
Hong Kong’s relationship with Barcelona – 8,000 nautical miles away by the shortest route – is an example of how two great cities can create opportunities for their respective hinterlands, Hong Kong through the GBA, and Barcelona through the western Mediterranean. Both have access to international and global markets for imports and exports, and create win-win partnerships.
Barcelona’s port has been represented in Hong Kong since 1988, and has worked closely with local authorities. “Since the very beginning of the idea of the GBA, the Hong Kong SAR government – through its institutions such as the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Invest Hong Kong – has kept us informed regularly of developments, and they have always been able to clarify any questions that we have had,” said Mr Dedeu. “Our relationship with Hong Kong has been fluid and very positive.”
“Working with Hong Kong is working with a true start-up hub.”
Juan Dedeu, China representative of Port de Barcelona
In recent years, ports have expanded their activities to become multimodal logistics hubs. Advanced supply chain logistics management concepts mean logistics providers must ensure just-in-time supply of materials, while digitisation requires perfect integration of all logistics operations within a single process.
“Working with Hong Kong is working with a true start-up hub,” said Mr Dedeu. “Barcelona-based members of the technology ecosystem can access the services they need to accomplish their goals. The contribution of Hong Kong, in general, not only in logistics, will be very important for the great project of the GBA as its international knowledge and experience in all the most important markets in the world will be of enormous value.”