Hong Kong science and technology park. Source: Shutterstock

Hong Kong seeks to attract fresh tech talent in new categories

Hong Kong recently suffered many blows because of political factors, whose impact was augmented by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

To help companies return to normalcy and to accelerate research and innovation capabilities within the country, Hong Kong decided to augment its technology talent admission scheme.

A recent PwC advisory explained the intricacies of the update. In essence, the scheme has been amended to “add six new technology areas to the existing seven technology areas covered by the scheme and extend coverage to all companies conducting research and development activities within the eligible technology areas.”

Originally launched in 2018, the technology talent admission scheme was rolled out by Hong Kong’s Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) to help companies involved in research and innovation work in the country attract and employ foreign talent.

At the time, the scheme covered tenants, and incubates the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) and Cyberport Management Company Limited (Cyberport) in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, financial technologies, material science, and robotics.

With this update, the need to have a presence in HKSTPC or Cyberport has been eliminated, making the scheme available to a wider range of companies involved in research & development activities.

The new areas that the update concerns itself with are 5G communications, digital entertainment, green technology, integrated circuit design, internet of things (IoT), and microelectronics.

Although the scheme makes it possible for companies to acquire and onboard talent more quickly (two weeks v. up to six weeks under regular visa application processes), it does require companies to hire a proportionate number of local talents – but this is done at the initial quota application stage rather than each time a visa is issued.

In the coming months, as the world battles the novel coronavirus outbreak, and Hong Kong deals with obstacles hindering its path to normalcy and accelerated progress with technology, the upgrade to the talent program is expected to provide quite an incentive.

Hong Kong is a great destination when it comes to technology innovations because of its ability to attract talent from the West as well as from the Mainland, fostering collaboration among teams and creating opportunities for exciting innovations that are out of the ordinary in most cases.

The country has been producing a strong pool of fresh talent from its universities as well, which will have better opportunities to train and grow their skills under the management and through the mentoring provided by overseas talent brought into the country.

PwC’s advisory is definitely positive when it comes to the scheme’s upgrade – but the government might need to further incentivize businesses to take on the offer and make the necessary investments in their operations at this time.