Tech-hub rank boost for HK

Hong Kong has climbed one rung to No 9 in the rankings of the world’s leading technology hubs outside Silicon Valley, but Singapore remains on top.

Accounting company KPMG surveyed more than 800 global leaders in the tech industry between March and May, asking which cities they see as leading innovation hubs over the next four years, in addition to Silicon Valley in San Francisco.

Singapore tops the list, followed by New York, Tel Aviv, Beijing, London, Shanghai, Tokyo and Bangalore.

Hong Kong ranked ninth globally – one position higher than last year – and No 6 in Asia-Pacific.

The respondents listed the United States, China and India as the top three countries that show the most promise for developing disruptive technologies.

Some 44 percent chose urban locales that attract young professionals as one of the most important factors that enable a city to become a tech innovation center.

Over 30 percent considered a pipeline of skilled talent and modern infrastructure as other important factors. Respondents were divided over the likelihood that the innovation center of the world would move from Silicon Valley in the next four years – over 30 percent believe this is likely and just as many think the opposite.

With a more virtual workforce and massive global digital acceleration under way, “perhaps a viable competitor to Silicon Valley will emerge,” according to the report.

Alex Holt, global head of technology, media and telecommunications at KPMG, said: “Engineering talent and intellectual property are the lifeblood of the tech industry, and retaining top talent is a strategic imperative.

“Employers know this and are striving toward flexible work arrangements, including permanent hybrid workforce models.

“As the workforce disperses geographically, new hotbeds of technically skilled workers will emerge.”

Wong Ho-wa, a member of IT Vision, said Hong Kong’s rank improvement is not much and this may be due to the loss of talent.

“The Singapore government provides incentives, such as tax subsidies, to encourage foreign tech companies and personnel to stay. In contrast, the incentives from the Hong Kong government are lacking,” he said.

Wong said insufficient infrastructure may affect the city’s ranking in the future.

“The report showed that good infrastructure is an important factor in becoming a tech innovation center, but the abandonment of the construction of an underwater cable connecting Hong Kong to the US showed that the city’s infrastructure may not be sufficient,” he said.

“This may cause a drop in the city’s ranking in the future.”

Wong suggested the government help train local talent and provide policies that can help local enterprises enter markets in other regions.

Francis Fong Po-kiu, honorary president of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, suggested the government consider providing more tax incentives to tech firms and focus more resources on financial technology, software development and big data to increase the city’s competitiveness.

Fong said Singapore has better land policies and tax incentives that attract large technology firms.

Mainland cities benefit from vast domestic markets, and the sanctions on several mainland technology enterprises have forced them to spend more effort on technology development, such as chips and 5G, to cement its leadership position.

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