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Cutting-edge technology. 1|How Hong Kong takes the opportunity to build a new Silicon Valley in the world|01 Weekly


Hong Kong has been chanting official slogans such as developing innovation and technology and leveraging its advantages in basic research for many years, but it seems that it still has not been able to find a suitable path, leading to many missed opportunities in the past. For example, it was proposed in 1998,


Written by: Yang Yingwei

2021-06-20 21:00

Last update date: 2021-06-20 21:00

Hong Kong has been chanting official slogans such as the development of innovation and technology and the use of basic research advantages for many years, but it still seems to have failed to find a suitable path, leading to many missed opportunities in the past, such as the "10 billion yuan" proposed in 1998. The "Silicon Harbor Project" was dead.

The "14th Five-Year Plan for the National Economic and Social Development of the People's Republic of China and the Outline of Long-Term Goals for 2035" (the "14th Five-Year Plan") shows that the deployment of new generations of artificial intelligence, quantum information, integrated circuits, and neural chips will be accelerated And DNA storage and other cutting-edge technologies (cutting-edge technologies). Hong Kong, which intends to become an "international innovation and technology center", has the conditions to become a "national science and technology pioneer", and can it take this opportunity to create a "new silicon valley in the world"?

Chen Qingquan, the first academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering in Hong Kong, and a number of experts accepted an exclusive interview with "Hong Kong 01" and pointed out that Hong Kong must correct the three shortcomings of lack of research institutes, de-technology and insufficient top-level design, in order to break a blood path for the development of innovation and technology. The field of science and technology contributes to the country.

This is the third in a series of reports on Hong Kong's cutting-edge technology development

Tan Zhuguang (A Guang), Master of Electronic Information Engineering, City University of Hong Kong, introduced his experience from studying for a doctorate to dropping out.

After graduating from his master's degree, Aguang received a call from the professor asking him if he wanted to study for a PhD in RISC-V (Open Source Chip Architecture).

"At that time, the competition for doctoral students was very fierce. The professor found me under a large number of CVs because I had not published a paper (thesis), because I relied on the high GPA (Grade Point) to earn money, and the professor wanted to admit a local (local) student. "

A Guang pointed out that there is a gap between middle school mathematics education and university, and most of the young people entering engineering subjects are "sufficient points" and are not really interested. This has caused many people to be "disabled" at the bachelor level. "I know a lot. Undergraduates don’t know what they’ve learned! They’re not even familiar with the basics of "Fast Fourier Calculations", what about scientific research?” In contrast, non-local students who enter the laboratory for graduate studies have a higher level of engineering mastery than local students. "Engineering in the mainland itself is a "shenke"... Some students studied control technology, I studied electronics, and we studied electronics masters together. They and I "have something to do" and even beat me."

A Guang pointed out that there is a gap between middle school mathematics education and university, and most of the young people entering engineering subjects are "sufficient points" and are not really interested. This has made many people "disabled" at the bachelor level.

(Profile picture / Photo by Gong Jiasheng)

A Guang believes that the application scenarios for scientific research in the Mainland are much broader than those in Hong Kong, and the level of scientific research of students is naturally higher. "The scientific research results of undergraduates in the Mainland can reach the level of our masters. I went to Harbin Institute of Technology to communicate. Take it to Jiuquan (satellite center) for launch, it’s really amazing!"

It is a pity that A Guang chose to drop out of school two months after entering his Ph.D. One of the reasons was "economic pressure."

Aguang explained that the school will now set up scholarships for doctoral degrees, but they must be based on GPA, otherwise they must pay their own tuition.

"Doing scientific research and publishing papers, sometimes it is difficult to guarantee that the GPA can reach that level, but if this income is missing, the family's financial situation will be very poor." Aguang sighed helplessly. People who can get a Ph.D. At a certain age, it is inevitable that there will be "voices" in the family. "It will really deter people from public housing like me."

Who will "sit on the bench" with less opportunity for return?

What Ah Kuang said is true. There are really not many university graduates in Hong Kong who are willing to continue their studies, resulting in a shortage of scientific research personnel.

According to the "2020 World Innovation Index", the number of researchers in Hong Kong per million population is about 4026.5, which is weak in the advanced economy group, and is nearly double that of South Korea

(see Table 1)


According to the research report "Unlock Hong Kong's Science and Innovation Potential to Build an International R&D Capital" (hereinafter referred to as "R&D Capital"), a research report led by the think tank "Unity Hong Kong Foundation" by the vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and Hong Kong's first chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong's education in 2018 The number of researchers in the sector is less than one-third of that of London. Although the number of professors is similar, the difference between the number of graduate students and researchers is far

(see Table 2)


Chen Qingquan, the "Father of Electric Vehicles in Asia," observes that Hong Kong students are very smart, but most of them think that there is no way out for Ph.D., so they don't have to pursue further studies after graduation.

As the first academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering after the return of Hong Kong, Chen Qingquan can be said to have witnessed the large and small developments of the scientific research community in Hong Kong, and also experienced the take-off of national science. He is still active in the forefront of science and technology even after 80 years of age. For example, he recently participated in the establishment of the "Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao University" The "Bay Area Academicians Alliance" gathers academicians in Hong Kong to provide advice and suggestions for the Development Section of the SAR Government.

"It takes too long for scientific researchers to apply for projects and so on. It is too little to calm down." Chen Qingquan said, "The mentality of eager for quick success and quick gain should be discarded...the spirit of sitting on the "cold bench" should be promoted." He once He wrote "Providing an Original Atmosphere from 0 to 1 for Scientific Researchers to Innovate", mentioning that it takes time to return: "Because of the free exploratory nature of basic research results, it takes a long time for the theoretical value to appear. Evaluation At this time, the evaluation period can be appropriately extended, and the scope of domestic and foreign peer review can be expanded, focusing on its theoretical and academic value, especially its supporting and leading role in applied research."

Unfortunately, in Hong Kong, which is eager for success, neither professors nor graduate students seem to be willing to "sit on the bench."

According to UGC data, in the 2019/20 academic year, the number of non-local students in postgraduate research courses in public institutions, also known as "academic graduate students", is 6,864, accounting for 82% of the total number of students. According to this calculation, There are only less than 1,400 local academic graduate students.

But having said that, "eager for quick success and quick benefits" is the result of human nature, and it is more popular in a capitalist society. The question is whether the SAR government has provided sufficient incentives for research talents and sufficient positions for the development of industries in response to relevant issues?

The answer is undoubtedly disappointing.

Ni Mingxuan pointed out that external factors such as land restrictions, underdeveloped infrastructure, and high housing prices have prevented Hong Kong universities from cultivating and retaining talents.

(Photo/Photo by Ou Jiale)

When Ni Mingxuan, the vice president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the founding principal of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou), was interviewed by "Hong Kong 01" earlier, he could not hide his regret about the shortage of scientific research personnel: "I have trained many outstanding graduates and stayed there. There are not many in Hong Kong." He pointed out that external factors such as land restrictions, underdeveloped infrastructure, and high housing prices have hindered the cultivation and retention of talents in Hong Kong universities. For example, if students want to stay in school, they will flow to foreign countries due to insufficient teaching posts; if they want to innovate Entrepreneurship can only break through the north.

So, what is the internal crux?

First, the Hong Kong government's investment in research and development and education in universities is too low.

Take the chips necessary for cutting-edge technology as an example. "Thirty years ago, HKUST was the only place in China where chips can be made." Ni Mingxuan said that in the past 30 years, the government has not subsidized universities to update related equipment, and the equipment is outdated. "Hong Kong The opportunity has been missed.” According to Cai Hongbin, Dean of the School of Economics and Business Administration of the University of Hong Kong, “Recommendations for Hong Kong’s “Human Capital Investment Multiplication Plan””, Hong Kong’s public education expenditures account for only 3.3% of GDP. Lower than the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 5.1%; the total R&D expenditures of industry sectors, governments, and universities only account for 0.8% of GDP, and the average of OECD member countries is 2.4%, which is "three times that of Hong Kong." "In contrast, South Korea and Israel's R&D expenditures accounted for more than 4.5% of GDP, and Sweden and Japan also accounted for 3%."

Secondly, when resources are already scarce, universities chase rankings in order to obtain more resources, leading to serious homogeneity competition and lack of cooperation.

Xu Lizhi, the dean of the Hong Kong Academy of Sciences and the former president of the University of Hong Kong, described it as a "necessary evil" for universities to chase rankings in an interview with "Hong Kong 01" earlier.

For example, there are differences in disciplines among universities, but the UGC ignores the differences and applies the same assessment framework. "Using article numbers and other methods to evaluate the research level of universities, and the evaluation (result) is common to the entire university, and the ranking is high. You can allocate more students and grant funds.” Under this administrative-led management mechanism, the pressure of chasing resources and rankings is decentralized. University professors aim to publish papers, and it is difficult to calm down and do tricky cutting-edge scientific and technological research.

However, the resources are indeed limited, but the potential is unlimited.

In March this year, the National "Two Sessions" issued the "Fourteenth Five-Year Plan of the People's Republic of China for National Economic and Social Development and the Outline of Long-Term Goals for 2035" (hereinafter referred to as the "14th Five-Year Plan"), which clearly specializes in "frontier technology" ( Cutting-edge technology), including a new generation of artificial intelligence, quantum information, integrated circuits, brain science and brain-like research, genetics and biotechnology, clinical medicine and health, deep space, deep sea and polar exploration-with five top 100 universities in the world, Hong Kong, which has obvious advantages in basic research, has an international system and environment, and has gathered a large number of world-renowned scholars, seems to be the most capable city in the country to engage in these seven cutting-edge science and technology research.

Huang Jinhui took the most popular "neck" technology-chip as an example: chip technology is divided into two aspects: design and production. Hong Kong's "chip design" level is the world's first, and the electrical and electronic engineering profession is "one of the best" in the world.

(Data Picture/Photo by Gao Zhongming)

In an interview with "Hong Kong 01", Huang Jinhui, deputy dean (foreign affairs) of the Faculty of Engineering of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, pointed out that Hong Kong has "great promise" in the six major scientific and technological fields listed in the "14th Five-Year Plan".

He divided the technologies listed in the national plan into two categories: one is "stuck neck" technology, that is, technology fields that are well done by foreign countries but are relatively backward in China, such as integrated circuits (ie chips, sensors, etc.); the other is "unknown". "Technology" refers to the field of science and technology that all countries are exploring, such as quantum computing.

Hong Kong can gather its existing advantages, focus on tackling the "stuck neck" problem to meet the needs of the country, and actively participate in "unknown" scientific research.

Huang Jinhui took the most popular "neck" technology-chip as an example: chip technology is divided into two aspects: design and production. Hong Kong's "chip design" level is the world's first, and the electrical and electronic engineering profession is "one of the best" in the world.

According to the 2021 QS World University Rankings by Subject, the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology ranks 20th in the world, and the Department of Electronics of five universities in Hong Kong is among the top 100 in the world (see Table 3).

It can be said that Hong Kong's academic accumulation advantage in the electronics department is unmatched in Asia, even comparable to South Korea, which is dominated by the chip industry, and far superior to Taiwan (see Table 4).

Need to gather resources to build a research institute to solve the problem

"The first thing that the Hong Kong science and technology industry wants to contribute to the "stuck neck" technology is to give researchers a relaxed environment." Chen Qingquan pointedly said that scientists should not be restricted by the evaluation system. The current evaluation system "emphasizes "The number of papers" is not conducive to the original research of "from 0 to 1." In the final analysis, it should start with the establishment of a "research institute."

At present, the research and development funds of universities in Hong Kong mainly come from government funding. Homogeneous competition among universities and the loss of research talents can be described as inefficient use of public funds.

To break this deadlock, it is necessary to change the system, and to fully mobilize the most dependent resources for cutting-edge scientific and technological research, including funds, knowledge, and talents-and the "research institute" is the best place.

"There are four major elements in the high-tech industry. The first is a prestigious university, where science is produced; the second is research institutes, where technology is generated; the third is enterprises and markets; and the fourth is finance." Chen Qingquan pointed out that Hong Kong's current innovation and technology Pain points: "Hong Kong has prestigious universities and no research institutes, so universities produce science and theory, but they cannot produce technology." He suggested that Hong Kong set up special "research institutes", such as "there are also national laboratories in Silicon Valley." Establish a complete scientific research ecology.

Huang Jinhui also believes that Hong Kong must build a "Bay Area Super Scientific Research Institution": "The establishment of large scientific research institutions has become a global trend. It is not only beneficial to provide a stable platform for long-term and large-scale frontier scientific research cooperation, as well as sufficient financial support. In order to attract top international scientific and technological talents, it can also provide a career development path for post-doctoral researchers."

Chen Qingquan hopes that the Chinese Academy of Sciences can set up branches in Hong Kong, so that young people who are interested in scientific research have a place to go.

(Profile picture/Photo by Wu Weihao)

"Students want to teach after a Ph.D. The number of university professors is limited. Then they go to postdoctoral studies and work as research assistants. They all get money from the project. It's "soft money", not a career! The project is gone, and the money is gone. "Chen Qingquan also pointed out that Hong Kong students like to be doctors, lawyers, and finance. In comparison, "Science and engineering are so hard, you can't make quick money, you can't marry a wife, you can't buy a house... This is all because of the lack of researchers in Hong Kong." This kind of clear career path." Chen Qingquan hopes that the Chinese Academy of Sciences can set up branches in Hong Kong, so that young people who are interested in scientific research have a place to go.

Such research institutes and research institutes with "research" as their industry can break the status quo of homogenous competition among universities and establish a platform for cooperation between disciplines and schools, which is crucial to the promotion of cutting-edge scientific and technological research.

Chen Qingquan said, "Now only by engaging in interdisciplinary research, can we hope to build a leadership position in the discipline." Because ordinary technology has been invented, it is necessary to explore in interdisciplinary fields. "Dare to enter no man's land." ."

Chen Qingquan gave an example. The international cutting-edge technology and engineering education has taken the lead in adopting the "interdisciplinary" mechanism, such as the Singapore University of Technology and Design (Singapore University of Technology and Design), and the University of Technology (Guangzhou) has also adopted this model.

It’s just that the interdisciplinary education system requires schools to break with the traditional academic departments. This is too much for those universities with a long history in Hong Kong. However, if there is a new "research institute", it will be fine. Break down barriers and have the courage to try.

Huang Jinhui suggested that the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong can take the lead in cooperating to establish large-scale scientific research institutions in the Loop, pooling talents and resources, "to consolidate strength to overcome technical difficulties and master core cutting-edge technologies."

Hong Kong also has research institutions. Since 2006, many research and development centers have been established, including the Automotive Technology Research and Development Center, the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute ("ASTRI"), the Hong Kong Textile and Apparel Research and Development Center, logistics and supply chain diversified technology research and development Center, and Nano and Advanced Materials Research and Development Institute.

However, Hong Kong’s existing R&D centers are relatively small, and the total number of researchers employed does not exceed 400 (see Table 5). Moreover, each R&D center relies on university laboratories to focus on fields and topics. It is difficult to conduct cross-university and cross-university research. Subject research.

The government should consider integrating resources and designing a platform for cooperative research on cutting-edge technology from the system.

For example, the above-mentioned "City of Research and Development" report pointed out that in recent years, economies such as the United Kingdom and the United States, which have led the field of science, have begun to establish large inter-agency research institutions.

In the United States, the Broad Institute was established to promote in-depth interdisciplinary, inter-organization, and cross-regional collaborative research to solve today's complex biomedical problems.

The long-term and sustainable development of large research institutions is inseparable from the government's large and regular investment. Taking the Broad Institute as an example, the US federal government will fund approximately US$150 million each year to support its research work.

The above is excerpted from the 270th issue of "Hong Kong 01" Weekly (June 21, 2021) "How to use "Cutting-edge Technology" as a national policy to build a new Silicon Valley in the world".

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Source: hk1

All news articles on 2021-06-25

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