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SCED's speech at Asia Smartphone Apps Contest Award Presentation Ceremony

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Asia Smartphone Apps Contest Award Presentation Ceremony today (March 7):

Mr Cheung (Chairman of Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association, Mr To Cheung), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It gives me great pleasure to join today's Asia Smartphone Apps Contest Award Presentation Ceremony. First and foremost, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all the participants from the Mainland and overseas to Hong Kong.

This contest is the first of its kind in Asia. With more than 200 entries from eight economies competing for awards in five categories, we had very good response, demonstrating the bubbling drive for innovation and creativity in the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in the region.

Hong Kong has what it takes to be a centre of excellence for mobile apps. Our mobile penetration rate is reaching 230 per cent, with some 9.9 million users of smartphones or other mobile devices. Our telecommunications charges are among the lowest in the world. Our average peak Internet connection speed of 54.1 megabits per second is the fastest in the world. The infrastructure is ready and we have a critical mass of tech-savvy and app-voracious users to try out clever and innovative apps.

Our Government also takes advantage of our robust ICT connectivity to deliver e-Government services to the public. By the end of January this year, a total of 38 mobile websites and 49 mobile apps have been launched to enable quick and convenient access to government information and services.

Innovation and creativity is the engine to drive social and economic development and keep the society competitive and forward-looking. We seek to encourage innovation through a number of measures.

First, our Office of the Government Chief Information Officer organises the Hong Kong ICT Awards every year to recognise outstanding innovative technology and applications. The Awards scheme also encourages practitioners to develop creative ICT solutions to enrich users' everyday life and serves as a springboard for other international awards and market expansion. Hong Kong has been doing very well over the years. In 2012, our highly skillful and innovative developers scooped nine prestigious international ICT awards.

Second, we established Create Hong Kong to promote the development of creative industries in 2009. Development of smartphone apps requires proficiency in both ICT and interactive usage experience, and Hong Kong is very competitive in both areas. Create Hong Kong supports the industry in building Hong Kong into a digital and interactive advertising hub in Asia. Riding on the success of the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association two years ago in organising a local smartphone apps contest, we are delighted to see this first Asian version of the contest this year.

Third, we have set up the Innovation and Technology Fund to foster an innovative culture and promote technological entrepreneurship. Over the years, we have sponsored over 3,100 projects, providing over HK$7.1 billion of financial support. We introduced improvement measures to the funding scheme last year to better support commercialisation of R&D results and training of local research personnel.

Fourth, we have set up top-notch technological infrastructure such as Cyberport and the Science Park. They provide excellent facilities for start-ups and funding support to nurture innovations and incubatees with good business potential for comercialisation. I am glad to see that the Science Park has sponsored the "Hong Kong App Startup Award" in this contest.

Before I close, I would like to congratulate in advance today's award winners. Your ingenuity and dedication enhances the way we live, interact and conduct business. I would like to thank the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association for organising this successful apps contest for Asia. For those participants from the Mainland and overseas, I wish you an enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.

Thank you.

Thursday, March 7, 2013