HKPC Announces “Reindustrialisation Study – Hong Kong” Key Findings Technology Transformation is Irreversible for Three Traditional Industries “New Generation Semiconductor” Sets to Become an Emerging Industry of Reindustrialisation

(Hong Kong, 8 November 2021) The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) today announced the key findings of “Reindustrialisation Study – Hong Kong” with focus on three industries: Food Technology (FoodTech), Health Technology (HealthTech) and Green Technology (GreenTech).

So does Hong Kong have the conditions to develop reindustrialisation? Can companies with the potential for reindustrialisation grasp the opportunity? As the promoter and frontline R&D consultant of i4.0, HKPC has noticed that the food, health and green industries are more interested in the practice of reindustrialisation and have served up more successful cases and enquiries. In view of this, HKPC collaborated with HKU Business School to conduct the “Reindustrialisation Study – Hong Kong” from July to September this year to explore the conditions, feasibility and challenges faced by Hong Kong’s FoodTech, HealthTech and GreenTech in reindustrialisation. The Study successfully interviewed 184 companies by questionnaires. Its key findings are as follows:

Market distribution:

  • 90%, 37% and 22% of companies considered Hong Kong, the Mainland and South East Asia as their main target markets
  • By industry:
    • FoodTech: 98%, 28% and 20% of companies considered Hong Kong, the Mainland and South East Asia as their main target markets respectively
    • HealthTech: 74%, 49% and 36% of companies considered Hong Kong, the Mainland and Europe as their main target markets respectively
    • GreenTech: 90%, 39% and 24% of companies considered Hong Kong, the Mainland and South East Asia as their main target markets respectively

About i4.0:

  • Awareness: Half of the companies said they are aware of i4.0
  • Advantages:
    • The interviewed companies generally believe that increased productivity, reduction in production costs, and more flexibility for operation are the main advantages of i4.0
    • 83% of FoodTech companies, 64% of HealthTech companies and 71% of GreenTech companies believe that enhanced production efficiency is the primal benefit of i4.0
  • Land required: 44% of FoodTech companies, 46% of HealthTech companies and 38% of GreenTech companies said less than 10,000 square feet are required
  • Main challenges: Insufficient space to set up an automated production line, inadequate unloading space and floor ceilings being too low
  • Establishment of production lines:
    • 52% of companies said they have plans to move or extend their production lines to Hong Kong
    • By industry, 74% FoodTech, 41% HealthTech and 62% GreenTech companies said they have plans to move or extend their production lines to Hong Kong

About R&D activities:

  • 58% of companies said they have invested in R&D. By industry, 79% FoodTech, 65% HealthTech, 36% GreenTech companies said they have invested in R&D.
  • 16% of companies said they have plans to move or extend R&D to Hong Kong. By industry, 24% FoodTech, 23% HealthTech, and only 4% GreenTech companies said they have such plans.
  • 73% FoodTech, 50% HealthTech and 75% GreenTech companies said they are engaged in R&D activities in Hong Kong
  • Key factors for attracting companies to engage in R&D activities: Availability of higher education institutions locally (46%), skilled local R&D talent (37%), close proximity to production facilities (36%), R&D infrastructure (31%), funding (29%) and presence of local R&D community/related services (27%)

About talent:

  • Among companies interviewed, only 28% are confident of finding suitable talent for i4.0 related work in the next one to two years, 33% in the next three to four years, and 37% in the next five years

Mr Edmond Lai, Chief Digital Officer of HKPC, said, “Half of the companies are aware of i4.0. Based on the ‘glass half full’ concept, if these half of the potential companies that do not know reindustrialisation can understand more about the advantages and feasibility of i4.0 and intelligent manufacturing, it is believed that their confidence in considering upgrading and transforming will be enhanced, enabling the sustainable development of traditional industries in this digital era. The Study shows that companies consider neighbouring regions such as Hong Kong, the Mainland and South East Asia as their main target markets; and about 30-40% of companies believe that a plant area of 10,000 square feet or less is sufficient. The new Advanced Manufacturing Centre and existing industrial buildings in Hong Kong are more than enough to meet such demand.”

Mr Lai continued, “Hong Kong is a free port with unrestricted access to funds, a sound intellectual property (IP) protection system, a solid foundation for R&D in local universities, and the advantages of local traditional industries in international marketing, sales and global customer base. As a highly export-oriented open economy, and in conjunction with the National 14th Five-Year Plan which clearly supports Hong Kong’s development as an international innovation and technology (I&T) hub, Hong Kong can make use of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) as an entry point to integrate into the overall development of the Mainland, and give full play to the advantages of domestic and external circulation. With technology, infrastructure and talent in place, coupled with the active support of the government, reindustrialisation in Hong Kong has great potential and room for development which can enable the ‘Made in Hong Kong’ brand to shine again.”

Dr Tang Heiwai, Professor of Economics, HKU Business School, said, “This is a critical moment for people and policymakers to think about the future of Hong Kong’s economy. With the post-pandemic new normals together with the changing geopolitical landscape and new government initiatives, there are more opportunities for Hong Kong to grasp to transform itself into a technology and innovation hub, which permits the city’s more productive and inclusive integration with the regional innovation ecosystem. Our report focuses on three specific industries, which highlight Hong Kong’s existing strengthens and potentials. The case studies of the three countries, namely Israel, Singapore, and Switzerland, in the report highlight the specific policies other governments adopted to facilitate the development of advanced manufacturing that was supported by technology and faciliates further innovative activities. We picked these three countries for our case studies because of their remarkable similarity with Hong Kong in terms of population and stages of development, but significantly more advanced development in manufacturing, industry 4.0 technologies, and industrial research and development (R&D).”

Mr Lai also said, “Apart from the questionnaire, HKU also invited large-scale local companies for focus group discussions. Many of them were of the view that the ‘new generation semiconductors’ have the potential to develop into an emerging industry of reindustrialisation. At present, the world is facing the problem of chip shortage, while mainland China also intends to develop its own new generation of semiconductor technology and the entire supply chain. As such, Hong Kong can target the market’s demand for third-generation semiconductors, such as establishing a chip design centre, and cooperating with national policies in the short term to encourage semiconductor-related companies from all over the world to settle here. Hong Kong, as the core hub of the external circulation, and with a good IP protection system, has an absolute advantage in attracting a new generation of semiconductor manufacturers to set up factories in Hong Kong, converging the entire new generation of semiconductor industry chain through the Northern Metropolis in the long run. The semiconductor industry has been a traditional industry in Hong Kong in the 1980s and 1990s. There are already many companies engaged in the semiconductor business in Hong Kong, producing integrated circuits used in watches and clocks, calculators, and domestic appliances. Local OEMs have undertaken the production of critical components for world-renowned brands, and the ‘Made in Hong Kong' brand is a guarantee of confidence. Hence, attracting semiconductor manufacturers to set up factories in Hong Kong is conducive to the development of reindustrialisation.”

Mr Lai added, “For the three traditional industries, technology transformation is irreversible. In terms of FoodTech, ‘Future Technology’ includes many food or materials made from synthetic organisms. The use of R&D and innovative thinking not only can produce food, but also alleviate various environmental problems. Synthetic biotechnology may become the reindustrialisation revolution with the most potential in the future, and let Hong Kong's industry and sustainable development shine. In terms of HealthTech, it can optimise the production of Chinese and Western medicines and expand the production of vaccines and life sciences. In terms of environmental protection, the Study has found that more than 60% of green companies require more than 10,000 square feet of plant space to set up production lines in Hong Kong. This is mainly because the recycling industry in Hong Kong has not made use of advanced technology. Hence, by leveraging technologies, it may help reduce both land usage and production costs.”

HKPC has always been committed to providing enterprises with “one-stop” world-class comprehensive technical support. On top of the preliminary feasibility study, it will also address the pain points of individual plant space shortages to design and customise intelligent production lines, based on the plant layout and with the adoption of i4.0 technology. There are already a number of successful cases regarding the establishment of intelligent production lines. HKPC will also match relevant government funding and train talent for companies to assist their upgrade and transformation, thereby creating new values.

HKPC’s key event of the year “ForeSight 2022” will be held from 18 to 19 November 2021, under the theme of “Dare to Innovate, Capture the Opportunities”. An ensemble of political and business heavyweights and industry leaders will share market trends, I&T development prospects and business opportunities with a forward-looking vision on four major hot topics: macroeconomic prospects, the National 14th Five-Year Plan and opportunities and challenges in GBA, reindustrialisation, and zero carbon emission strategies. HKPC is looking forward to hearing from creative, ambitious, and forward-looking industrialists and manufacturers, so as to work together to dare to innovate and create new business opportunities for Hong Kong.

Please click here to view the key findings of “Reindustrialisation Study – Hong Kong” (Chinese only). The full report will be available by December for download from HKPC and HKU Business School website.

- Ends -

At the media briefing of “Reindustrialisation Study – Hong Kong”, Mr Edmond Lai, Chief Digital Officer of HKPC (left), and Dr Tang Heiwai, Professor of Economics, HKU Business School (right), announced FoodTech, HealthTech and GreenTech are the key industries under reindustrialisation, in the meantime, “New Generation Semiconductor” sets to become an emerging industry of reindustrialisation.At the media briefing of “Reindustrialisation Study – Hong Kong”, Mr Edmond Lai, Chief Digital Officer of HKPC (left), and Dr Tang Heiwai, Professor of Economics, HKU Business School (right), announced FoodTech, HealthTech and GreenTech are the key industries under reindustrialisation, in the meantime, “New Generation Semiconductor” sets to become an emerging industry of reindustrialisation.