Policy Recommendations for the Northern Metropolis


Innovation and Technology Policy Research Collaboration Scheme

Policy Recommendations for the Northern Metropolis 


1.  Building a University Town in the Northern Metropolis

Hong Kong faces a shortage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent, with an estimated gap of more than 200,000 professionals by 2030. Local universities have limited space to expand teaching and research due to acute land constraints. The development of the Northern Metropolis presents a strategic opportunity to address these challenges by creating a well-designed university town that can effectively concentrate intellectual capital and infrastructure, thereby fostering collaboration and innovation. 


Policy recommendations:


1) Initiate the early planning process for the university town in the Northern Metropolis

  • Establish dedicated offices to collect suggestions and coordinate the development. 
  • Align with the key industries in the Northern Metropolis to facilitate the provision of essential talent and technical support. 
  • Encourage universities to propose development plans based on their strengths and needs. 


2) Optimise resource allocation for sustainable development 

  • Align the scale with available funding to ensure sustainability. 
  • Schedule its development in phases to gradually achieve desired scale and aggregation effects. 
  • Coordinate the distribution of the university town with broader industrial development plans for the Northern Metropolis. 


3) Promote industry-university-research cooperation and technology demonstration research 

  • Identify industry talent demands and cultivate urgently needed talents. 
  • Increase funding to incentivise university-industry collaboration and create synergies. 
  • Facilitate the translation of R&D achievements into marketable products. 
  • Establish mechanisms for fair distribution of benefits in university- industry collaboration to motivate researchers and facilitate sustainable development. 


4) Simultaneously plan supporting facilities 

  • Establish a special group to coordinate the construction of university towns and associated supporting facilities.
  • Introduce attractive policies to attract and retain top talents, addressing their essential needs such as housing, healthcare and education for children. 
  • Foster a sense of community and provide a fulfilling quality of life for residents. 


5) Create a robust science, technology, and innovation ecosystem 

  • Provide financial incentives to encourage more young people to pursue STEM-related subjects.
  • Streamline administrative procedures for scientific research projects, empowering researchers with greater initiative and efficiency.  
  • Simplify travel procedures for tech talents between the Chinese mainland and HK. 


6) Promote legal safeguards and governance structures 

  • Provide clear legal guarantees for the development of the university town. 
  • Establish dedicated government bodies to coordinate and manage the development and address related issues promptly. 
  • Standardise the construction and operation mechanisms of the university town to ensure sustainable development.



2.  Building a World-Class Innovation District in the Northern Metropolis

While Hong Kong has limited experience in developing the I&T sector, it is well positioned as a regional education and research hub with world-class universities and strong R&D capabilities. In order to establish clear competitive advantages of the Northern Metropolis, it is critical to unleash the potential of universities and other research institutions to foster university-government-industry partnership and drive I&T development. 

Policy recommendations:

1) Establish university-led mega innovation hubs with shared R&D platforms 

To capitalize on Hong Kong’s competitive edge in R&D and to bridge the transition from research to commercialization, we propose the establishment of three to four university-led mega innovation hubs in the Northern Metropolis. This is a shared platform where universities, industries, research institutions, start-ups, and governmental entities collaboratively navigate through the R&D journey, from conceptualization to commercialization.

2) Set up state-of-the-art research infrastructure and facilities 

World-class research equipment and facilities are essential for innovation districts, serving as the backbone for ground-breaking research and large-scale collaborative projects. The research underscores the indispensable role of these state-of-the-art infrastructures in attracting global talents, fostering university-industry collaboration, and amplifying the impact of research endeavours. 

3) Allocate earmarked funding for I&T research and collaboration 

Government funding is of critical importance in fostering innovation and technology research and collaboration, especially within the context of the mega innovation hubs and research facilities in the Northern Metropolis. 

4) Create a high-level organizational authority for I&T development 

Effective leadership and robust governance are paramount for the sustainable evolution of an innovation district. While the Northern Metropolis Co-ordination Office currently oversees the district’s development, there is a compelling case for instituting a high-level organizational authority specifically for I&T promotion. 

5) Implement creative networking programs to foster an innovative community 

A thriving innovation district is characterized by its innovative culture and a cohesive sense of community. For the Northern Metropolis to truly flourish as a beacon of I&T development, fostering an inclusive and dynamic community is paramount. 

6) Provide up-to-date amenities to support R&D activities and attract global talents

Innovation districts thrive when they offer state-of-the-art amenities and a conducive environment for both work and leisure. The Northern Metropolis, envisioned as a hub for R&D, should be no exception. 


Relevant Policy Research Reports:

* The Policy Recommendations are derived from two policy research projects commissioned by the Innovation and Technology Policy Research Collaboration Scheme launched by The Greater Bay Area Association of Academicians.

1. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Policy Research Centre for Innovation and Technology. Building a University Town in the Northern Metropolis to Promote the Development of Hong Kong’s New Innovation and Technology Economy.

2.The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Institute for Public Policy. Building a World-Class Innovation District in Northern Metropolis: The Role of University Cluster Magnets

Special thanks to: 

Hong Kong Institute of Science and Innovation, Chinese Academy of Sciences 

Institute of Science and Development, Chinese Academy of Sciences