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Speech by SCED at opening ceremony of Knowledge of Design Week 2016

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Opening Ceremony of Knowledge of Design Week 2016 today (June 15):

Eric (Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hong Kong Design Centre, Mr Eric Yim), Victor (Director of Hong Kong Design Centre, Mr Victor Lo), distinguished speakers, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning! I am most delighted to be here today at the Opening Ceremony of the Knowledge of Design Week, or KODW. A very warm welcome to you all, especially those who have travelled a long distance to be here with us today.

     Benjamin Franklin once said, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." I cannot agree more to this saying. KODW has annually gathered distinguished members of the design communities worldwide here in Hong Kong to talk about the latest trends and the biggest debates in design. It is a perfect platform for knowledge exchange and business collaboration, and it neatly fits our Government policy to support the development of creative industries through nurturing creative talents and start-ups.

     The theme for this year, "Design. Cities. Health in the New Economy" is a particularly fitting theme as elderly population in Hong Kong continues to climb. In fact, the proportion of elderly persons aged 65 and over is projected to rise from 15 per cent in 2014 to 36 per cent in 2064. Meanwhile, the proportion of the population aged under 15 is projected to decrease gradually from 12 per cent in 2014 to 9 per cent in 2064.

     An ageing population means a smaller workforce for business and public sectors. There will also be greater pressure on healthcare, social services and infrastructure as a result of a rise in life expectancy. Older customers with different preferences and habits will necessitate new perspectives and researches from businesses to service their needs. The substantial change in population demographics, compounded by other challenges such as changing attitudes and shifting lifestyles, poses serious questions to both the businesses and the Government.

     While Hong Kong boasts time-tested advantages and remarkable resilience in challenging times, in order to tackle a challenge of this magnitude, it requires us to do things in a smarter manner. That is where design comes in. The power of design lies in putting a human touch into technology and science, as well as reconfiguring the way tasks are performed. Businesses turn to design for new mindset and viewpoint. The Government turns to design for a holistic solution to remake the city and its infrastructure.

     Today is an excellent occasion to have a cross-disciplinary conversation on how a healthy city can be built or transformed. We are now in an exciting age full of not only challenges, but also immense potential and abundant opportunities. Digital transformation and the information age are changing the way we live and conduct businesses. Design will certainly have a significant role to play in the future. As China embarks on a visionary programme, the Belt and Road Initiative, we foresee soaring investments in infrastructural facilities, deepening financial integration, expanding trade and the building of people-to-people bonds on a global scale. Designers will have much to gain from not only more business opportunities but also a more connected world.

     I am glad that KODW 2016 lets us have an integrated perspective in the value of design. It is instrumental in promoting design thinking in our society. The workshops and forums will no doubt be very thought-provoking for the participants, who are leaders and key decision-makers from public and private sectors.

     I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hong Kong Design Centre for organising this marvelous event to impart invaluable insights to its participants. And I want to wish you all a very fruitful KODW. Thank you very much.

Ends/Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Issued at HKT 10:18