Growing a Scientific Infrastructure
Unlike many Asian regions, Hong Kong has followed a noninterventionist industrial policy that is pro-business. It has a low tax rate, no capital gains tax, and provides allowances for investments in selected sectors. There is also a competent government and abundant sources of capital.
The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between Hong Kong and mainland China facilitates access to China’s markets for Hong Kong companies. This agreement has been responsible for attracting foreign companies. In biotechnology, CEPA’s principal efforts have been directed at strengthening the R&D infrastructure. The Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Commission has a similar mission—to support and develop R&D, develop appropriate policies, and build scientific infrastructure.
There are a number of major sources of research funding in Hong Kong, including:
- The General Research Fund’s Research Grant Council, which in 2008–2009 provided HK$165.6 million ($21.2 million) in grants for biology and medical research,
- The University Grants Committee, which initiated the Areas of Excellence program with HK$525 million ($67 million) in 1998,
- The Research Fund for the Control of Infectious Diseases, which has provided HK$450 million ($58 million) for infectious disease R&D,
- The Innovation and Technology Commissions’ Funds for Applied Research, which has invested HK$332 million ($41.5 million) for 140 projects in bioinformatics, drug discovery, and modernization of TCM,
- In addition, The Hong Kong Jockey Club, which derives its revenues from horse races, makes major contributions to projects recommended by the government.
There are six major universities in Hong Kong—City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), and the University of Hong Kong.
Many of these universities have programs that focus on TCMs, including the School of Chinese Medicine (at Hong Kong Baptist University), Institute of Chinese Medicine (at the Chinese University of Hong Kong), and the Biotechnology Research Institute (at HKUST). There are also two autonomous research institutes, the Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology (HKIB) and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Institute of Chinese Medicine (HKJCICM).
Though both of these institutes were established with support from the Jockey Club, they have very different missions. HKIB is a downstream research institution that works on the standardization of TCM, the modern formulation of TCM, and, in collaboration with companies, produces TCM for clinical trials. The HKJCICM performs preclinical research on TCM formulations for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, menopausal symptoms, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and diabetes.