Hong Kong is now the world’s second largest funding hub for biotech according to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. During her speech at the 2nd HKEx Biotech Summit on May 29, Lam stated that innovation and technology have become a clear priority in government policy.
We have invested some HKD 100 billion (USD 13 billion), rolling out a variety of groundbreaking measures to fast track our innovation and technology sector and showcase it to the world
These measures include infrastructure developments, bringing in world-class talent, increasing government funding of technology, and tax deductions for companies’ research and development.
Hong Kong boasts a favourable environment for business innovation as well as legal freedoms that make it a desirable destination for the biotech industry; in addition, the region is home to multiple world-class universities with strong biotech research departments. Furthermore, Hong Kong is prioritizing R&D by opening up its data platforms, facilitating human clinical trials, and funding a large-scale genome sequencing project.
Hong Kong’s government has attempted to promote science and technology education in all of its schools, from primary to post-secondary, and emphasizes the recruitment of top talent from within the country and around the world. New research initiatives have been established at the flagship Hong Kong Science Park, with 50 proposals having been received so far. More than half of these proposals relate to healthcare technologies and come from prestigious institutions. These institutions are expected to set up their laboratories before the end of this year.
Lam states that, “Hong Kong’s free-enterprise economy and business-friendly environment also play a critical role in creating an attractive and enabling environment. The depth and liquidity of our capital market ensure that the I&T sector’s financing needs can easily be met.”
With the goal of removing barriers and encouraging research breakthroughs, HKEx – the Hong Kong Stock Exchange – has also revised the listing rules which enable pre-revenue and pre-profit biotech companies to list on it; furthermore, the HKEx has established a biotech advisory panel to provide advice on listing applications from biotech companies. These updates comprise the most significant revamp of listing rules in two decades.
Growth in the sector is confirmed by the fact that in the last year, seven new biotech companies have listed on the HKEx, raising some USD 2.8 billion through IPOs. Additionally, more than 500 projects related to biotech have been approved by the government’s R&D fund, receiving a total of close to USD 130 million, and more than HKD 1 billion (USD 128 million) has been allocated to the ground-breaking genome sequencing project.
Lam believes that Hong Kong will continue to be a favourable destination for biotech research and development and hopes that hoped that the region will grow to become the world’s number one funding hub for biotech.