The University of Macau (UM) Centre for Macau Studies (CMS), the Centre for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Studies of UM’s Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS), and Zhuhai UM Science & Technology Research Institute (ZUMRI), together with the Committee on Liaison with Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the Association of Chong Hang Intellectual Elites, 29 March) held a seminar titled ‘Talent Development Policy and the Promotion of Technological Innovation in Guangdong-Macao In-Depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin’. During the event, nearly 20 CPPCC Guangdong Provincial Committee members and experts had in-depth discussions on talent development policy and the promotion of technological innovation in Guangdong-Macao In-Depth Cooperation Zone (Cooperation Zone) in Hengqin.
Liao Jingshan, member of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC Guangdong Provincial Committee and director of the Committee on Liaison with Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan of the CPPCC Guangdong Provincial Committee, said that the positioning of the Cooperation Zone is clear, which is to support economic diversification of Macao. According to him, the zone needs to develop industries suitable for Macao in order to provide substantial support for the city’s economic diversification. Ieong Tou Hong, member of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC Guangdong Provincial Committee and director general of the Association of Chong Hang Intellectual Elites, pointed out that economic development relies on both the accumulation of human capital and technological development, adding that talent development policy and technological innovation should be implemented simultaneously.
Chao Chong Hang, associate professor of the Faculty of Health Sciences and secretary-general of the Talent Development Committee of the Macao SAR Government, said that Macao should introduce policies that can complement the national policy with its own strengths and characteristic. He added that Macao should be positioned as the intersection of the country’s internal and external circulation, helping the country to attract talent from around the world and precisely select key industries for development. According to him, in additional to basic research, universities in Macao should focus on promoting applied research and technology transfer. In addition to understanding their own strengths, universities also need to understand what problems they cannot solve and what key elements they lack in order to avoid developing inappropriate industries.
U Seng Pan, co-founder of the State Key Laboratory of Analog and Mixed-Signal VLSI and co-CEO of AkroStar, said that Macao has world-leading technology and experience in analog chip research and the development of the microelectronics integrated circuit industry, which can be used as a basis to establish enterprises in the Cooperation Zone. In terms of talent development, he suggests that it is necessary to first tackle challenges facing the introduction of professionals into the zone, such as the difference in taxation between Macao and Hengqin, subsidies, housing, as well as transport and social security. In the short term, he suggests that the Cooperation Zone can rely on student interns from universities outside the zone, while and in the long term, the zone should focus on cultivating talent though its own universities. Wang Chunming, associate professor of UM’s Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences and deputy director of the ZUMRI shared his experience in industry-academia collaboration in the Cooperation Zone. He believes that Macao has advantages and experience in Chinese medicine technology and can transform research results such as components of Chinese medicine and results of polysaccharide research into commercial products. According to him, the cultivation of research professionals is the basis of industrial development.
Hu Weixing, dean of the FSS and director of the Centre for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Studies made five suggestions in terms of talent development in the Cooperation Zone: 1) to attract investment in order to bring in professionals; 2) to allow talent to serve on multiple platforms in the Cooperation Zone to avoid vicious competition; 3) to draw talent from overseas countries; 4) to gather talent through projects, business parks, research and development centers, and other carriers; and 5) to establish an innovative system to facilitate customs clearance and the free-flowing of talent. CMS Director Agnes Lam Iok Fong mentioned that although young people in Macao generally agree that the Greater Bay Area has great development prospects, they are still on the sidelines and are affected by travel restrictions due to the pandemic. To strengthen the Cooperation Zone’s talent development strategy, she proposed to first tackle issues related to identity and housing. In terms of industrial innovation, she cited the experience of the Silicon Valley in the United States as an example of the importance of access to finance and pointed out that there are angel funds in the Bay Area in the US to encourage small businesses in science and innovation to keep the capital rolling, otherwise it would be difficult for new innovation companies to get off the ground.
Wong Seng Fat, associate professor of UM’s Faculty of Science and Technology, proposed the development of a ‘tourism + medical’ industry. According to him, the Cooperation Zone has vast land resources, which is suitable for the development of special industries with large medical equipment and provides an ideal environment for the joint development between tourism and health industries. He added that industries such as smart city and ‘tourism + medical’ have distinctive characteristics and therefore can attract talent. Kwan Fung, assistant professor of the FSS, added that the economy of Macao is relatively small and therefore requires precise industrial and talent policies. He believes that technology can lead to the upgrading of industries and the commercialisation of technological research results, adding that it is necessary to increase research productivity and keep searching for suitable industries for development.
Some members of the CPPCC Guangdong Provincial Committee from Macao also raised practical issues and shared their opinions. Chan Mei Yi mentioned that there should be corresponding job vacancies to attract talent, and that the Cooperation Zone needs to set up a department to assist enterprises in establishing their businesses. O Hoi Fan raised concerns about the establishment of enterprises in the Cooperation Zone and said that there is currently only a direction but not a concrete path for this matter. João Ma said that the Cooperation Zone is an entity involving both Macao and Hengqin and so the two places should launch relevant policies simultaneously. Lee Koi Ian said that the development of the Cooperation Zone should be in line with the industrial chain of the Greater Bay Area, so that the different parts of the region can complement each other.
Last but not the least, Zhang Guangnan, professor of the Institute of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Development Studies of the Sun Yat-sen University, concluded the discussion from three directions: the innovation and successful experience of the Cooperation Zone, the transformation of scientific research results from universities to enterprises, and the current need for policy support. He added that this seminar is an important platform for experts and scholars, CPPCC members, and entrepreneurs to exchange ideas with each other, and expressed hope that the Cooperation Zone would develop better in the future.