However, it seems the government has taken notice of calls to bolster Hong Kong’s technology innovation from the bottom up. In the recently published consultation document about the Digital 21 strategy, the government proposes to introduce programming into the primary education curriculum.
Legislator Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan welcomes the reform. What is more, she thinks creativity as well as technological capacity should be nurtured from a young age.
“The education system does not support it (creativity), parents do not encourage it, and there is no space, culture and environment,” she says. “Even if we have the technology, we still lack creativity.”
Quat adds it is important that children move from merely being users of technology to becoming programmers. “Programming will be an international language in the future, therefore we need the vision to look ahead to the future environment,” she says.
Stark Chan Yik-hei, popularly known as the Son of the Star after winning the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair award at the age of 15, would be the first to agree. After winning the award, Chan had many chances to participate in inno-tech projects and enrolled at the University of Science and Technology two years earlier than the average local student.
Having declined three well-paid job offers after graduation, Chan co-founded the app-making company, Bull.B Tech. For Chan, the problem is not so much a lack of investment or government support as one of mindset and attitude. Hong Kong’s would-be tech innovators fall down in their ability to execute their ideas and willingness to take risks.
He thinks people in the Mainland may not be so adept at creating something new but they remake and even improve original ideas really quickly. “But Hong Kong people tend only to talk the talk without walking the walk,” says Chan.
Still, he is optimistic about the future and believes Hong Kong innovators need to play to their advantages “Hong Kong people, being more attentive, can achieve better on graphic design and creativity,” he says. “On the other hand, we are close to the Chinese market, and we have global insights. We have more chances to repackage successful apps from overseas and take them all the way to the Chinese market.”
Chan also believes introducing programming earlier will allow students to better pursue their interests in technology and he hopes Hong Kong can produce globally influential inno-tech products – a goal he has also set for himself. “I have always wanted to create a platform for a multitude of users; something that rocks the world,” he says.
Edited by Vivian Ng