Following is a question by the Hon Charles Mok and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, in the Legislative Council today (November 7):
The Hong Kong Science Park (Science Park) provides purpose-built research and development office spaces, advanced laboratories and technical support services to more than 300 science and technology companies. However, it has been reported recently in the media that in the park, “half of the offices of the companies are in darkness during office hours, and quite a number of offices are occupied by ‘empty chairs’ only.” In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it has conducted any investigation into the aforesaid report; if so, of the outcome, and the actual utilisation rate of the Science Park excluding those offices with “empty chairs” only; whether it knows the current occupancy rate of the Science Park and the number of enterprises waiting to be admitted into the Science Park; and
(b) whether it knows the criteria based on which the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation vets and approves applications for admission to the Science Park at present; how the Corporation ensures that the tenants are really engaged in research and development in science and technology; whether the tenants are required to make full use of their rented office spaces, and of the mechanism to deal with cases in which such requirement is violated?
In response to the media report referred to in Hon Charles Mok’s question, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) has written to the media concerned to clarify that the report was not true.
Our reply to the sub-questions is as follows:
(a) According to information provided by the HKSTPC:
(i) as at September 2012, there was a total of about 390 technology-based companies in the first two phases of the Hong Kong Science Park (Science Park) and the overall occupancy rate was about 95%; and
(ii) at present, there are around 20 technology-based companies applying for admission to the Science Park, involving a floor area of some 41 000 square feet. The applications are being processed for approval. Concurrently, about 10 companies which are already operating in the Science Park have indicated that they will move out upon expiry of their leases, involving a floor area of about 35 000 square feet.
There are technology companies which will be applying to move into or leaving the Science Park for various reasons, an occupancy rate of 95% is in reality nearing maximum capacity. The general outlook is satisfactory. We have also secured the approval of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council to build Phase 3 of the Science Park, and anticipate that it would be completed in stages between early 2014 and 2016.
Many of the companies admitted to the Science Park are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). A feature of these technology-based SMEs is that they have fewer staff. Their operations have to be nimble, and they will often need to interact with their peers, investors and clients outside of company premises. Hence, there is nothing untoward in finding a small number of tenants having no staff in their offices some time during office hours.
(b) The HKSTPC has a set of published admission criteria, as detailed on its website and highlighted below:
(i) an applicant’s operation in the Science Park must contribute to the long term economic development of Hong Kong through the development, enhancement and/or application of innovation and technology;
(ii) the business of the applicant should be amongst the five focused technology clusters of the Science Park, i.e. electronics, information technology and telecommunications, precision engineering, biotechnology and green technology;
(iii) the applicant’s major operations in the Science Park should be innovation and technology based. At least 50% of its staff and space should be used for scientific research. Companies engaging purely in sales and marketing, trading, administrative activities, etc. are not qualified for admission; and
(iv) an applicant’s operation in the Science Park should not be primarily mass production, although small scale pilot production or high value-added production in support of product and market development and innovation is acceptable.
Under established procedures, the HKSTPC will critically evaluate all applications through detailed analysis of the information submitted by applicant companies. After admission, the HKSTPC will continue to pay attention to their operations to offer timely assistance. In accordance with the terms and conditions of the lease, tenants are required to report their latest operations to the HKSTPC annually. In case breaching of lease conditions is confirmed, the HKSTPC will take appropriate actions against the concerned company after seeking legal advice.