What does the Hong Kong science and Technology Park do?
We are the champion for innovation and technology in Hong Kong. What we have done is to build the technology park; we have created the infrastructure to foster and to support innovation and technology in Hong Kong. So we have some 400 companies, so we have 10,000 scientists and engineers in the park, all looking at how we can commercialise good ideas and turn them into commercial applications.
Why was Barcelona the city chosen as a model for the Hong Kong smart city campus?
We think we have a lot in common with Barcelona. We are both centres of innovation, centres of creativity, and we know that there is a large community of small and medium sized companies in Barcelona who are keen to expand their operations and their activities into Asia, and we think that the science park in Hong Kong will provide an ideal platform for them to access opportunities in Asia.
What does the landing and incubation program for Catalan start-ups in Hong Kong consist of?
Basically it is providing them with a home when they land. There is nothing worse than landing in a strange city or a strange environment and spending time in a hotel room and not knowing who to engage with or what to do, and so we provide them with a base in the science park, they land in the science park, and they have access to all the companies in the park, lots of people who are of the like mind and have a similar ambition to commercialise technology and innovation. The soft landing program offers them an immediate base and offers them a home within a technology and innovation family.
How can Hong Kong help the Catalan companies located in the park?
Well, basically we can receive them. We can provide them with base, more particularly we can introduce them to potential partners, we can help them find business opportunities, and we can help them understand particularly the china market. I mean, obviously, China is a huge opportunity for small, medium and large companies and we can facilitate that access.
On the other hand, how can these Catalan companies help Hong Kong?
Many of our companies have ambition to do business in Europe, particularly companies coming from mainland China. They want to build international relationships, they want to access business opportunities in Europe, so we see a two-way flow; we see Catalonian and Spanish companies coming to Asia, and with the park as their base, but we also see Hong Kong and Chinese companies coming to Barcelona, and using Barcelona as a platform for their European activities.
You had an opportunity to visit and get a first-hand look at the project focus on the promotion of the use of electric vehicles in Barcelona, called Barcelona Live, what advice would you give the city?
I don’t think it is giving advice, I think the city is very well advanced in what it is trying to achieve. We in Hong Kong have a similar ambition. We want to have smart vehicles, we want to have a smart transportation system, and our public transport is very good, but we need to map and we need to emulate you in terms of what you’ve done with charging electrical vehicles and the number of electric vehicles that you have in service. We have only 200 electric vehicles in operation in Hong Kong. We have 2000 ordered but we only have 200 in operation, so you, I think, are ahead of us, and we need to learn from you.
Do you think EVs are the key to the development of the cities of the future?
Of course! I think that particularly where you have a compact city where the means of transportation lend themselves to electric vehicles. I think it is an ideal model for the future. But I think it is not just electric vehicles. I talk about, and we talk in Hong Kong about sustainable mobility, because it is not just how people move in vehicles, it is how people move on foot. So the pedestrian is equally important and how you connect the pedestrian to public transport, how you connect public transport to offices, to retail, to people’s homes. The integral solution is very important I think, going forward.[:]