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HKSTP Joins Hong Kong Biomedical Technology Development Advisory Panel to Publish Report on ‘Developing Biomedical Technology Talent in Hong Kong and The Greater Bay Area’

Healthy pipeline of talent deemed vital to establishing biomedical technology as a pillar industry for Hong Kong and to propel the GBA to an International Biomedical Hub


29 Oct 2021


(Hong Kong, 29 Oct 2021) – The Hong Kong BioMedical Technology Development Advisory Panel (HKBDAP) today published a report on “Developing Biomedical Technology Talent in Hong Kong and The Greater Bay Area” (The Report). The Report reviews the current talent shortfall in biomedical technology, and puts forward recommendations to cultivate and attract talent in the region, with a view to propelling Hong Kong and the GBA region into an international biomedical hub. Key points for attention include emphasizing biomedical technology translation and talent cultivation in translational sciences to bridge bench science and clinical care, fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, and driving broad collaborations across disciplines and institutions.  

The HKBDAP comprises a multidisciplinary group of professionals, academics and investors, including Prof Lap-Chee Tsui, President and Founding Member of The Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong, as well as Albert Wong, CEO and Prof John Kao, Head, Institute for Translational Research from Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP). The Panel’s mission is to provide thought leadership and advocacy for technology development, adoption, and integration to improve health outcomes. The long-term goal is to build up Hong Kong as an international R&D hub through creating a vibrant ecosystem.

Biomedical technology industry in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) is identified as a key national development agenda. The Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area set out in 2019 has highlighted biomedical technology as a new pillar industry in the region, while also envisions closer cross-border co-operation in building up medical and healthcare resources, including encouraging talent exchanges and developing a regional healthcare cluster and medical centers.

Talent pipeline priority

The Report has identified cultivating talent in the stream of “technology translation” – essential to bridge research and patient care – as the major gap in the current biomedical research workforce. In view of this, the Report has articulated key recommendations focusing on nurturing translational scientists, instilling entrepreneurial spirits and culture, and creating a collaborative environment for talent to grow and thrive.

Mr. Paul Chau, Chairman of the HKBDAP said, “Talent development is the cornerstone of realising the mission of developing of Hong Kong and GBA into a world-class biomedical hub. Being the international city in the GBA region, Hong Kong is well positioned to be a R&D anchor to attract world-class talent and resources for innovations and achieve synergistic development with neighboring GBA economies complementing each other’s comparative strengths.

The Report released by HKBDAP highlights that we need more talent in technology translation to bring research outputs to life and to provide real benefits for our patients. To achieve this, technology translation has to become a core component of our education and training system. From our study of overseas experience, a new generation support model of scale transcending multiple institutions and public-private sectors is proven successful for biomedical technology translation. For the sustained development of talent, entrepreneurial spirits and commercial skills will open up a new world of possibilities for their career building. Overall, it is important to drive greater synergies and opportunities across the region to attract more international talent to come.”

Albert Wong, CEO of HKSTP said, ”As the largest R&D base in Hong Kong, HKSTP has been committed to uniting innovators in different technology key focuses, including biomedical technology to advance a wide range of solutions. We are glad to be part of the HKBDAP to help formulate strategies in building a rich talent pipeline for the industry. Over the past years, we have formed a biomedical cluster in Hong Kong Science Park and we are now home to 150 biotechnology companies.”

“We have recently established HKSTP Institute for Translational Research (ITR) in October to equip researchers and scientists with the entrepreneurial skills they need to transform promising research into action and impactful innovation. I hope these initiatives, along with the Report released by HKBDAP, will provide the needed support to the biomedical technology industry in developing into a new pillar of our economy.”

Recommendations to accelerate talent development

A discussion forum was held yesterday (October 28) at Hong Kong Science Park, bringing together government officials, biomedical technology industry partners and NGO representatives to discuss and identify new opportunities for developing biomedical technology talent in Hong Kong and the GBA, while also examined the current challenges that the industry is facing. In addition, the forum also solicited insights from key stakeholders on the recommendations proposed by the HKBDAP report.

The Report recognises collaborative research environment, well-aligned reward and funding systems, and strategic academic curriculum reform as core elements of building a high-quality and sustainable talent pipeline. The following seven recommendations are highlighted to create a healthy, self-sustaining entrepreneurial ecosystem, and drive synergies and opportunities across the GBA to enable researchers to continue to thrive and evolve.

  1. Address current knowledge and skills gaps in biomedical research workforce, especially in technology translation to bridge bench science and clinical care, by rethinking graduate education and post-doctoral training programs
  2. Establish a cross-institutional entity with a clear mandate in biomedical technology translation and talent cultivation in translational sciences
  3. Establish public-private partnership to ensure long-term sustainability while leveraging the knowledge domain of the commercial sector
  4. Mitigate the manpower shortage in medical service providers and position Hong Kong as a training hub. Training of medical service providers requires cooperation from the medical sector and also internship requirement for foreign trainees.
  5. Scale up initiatives to encourage primary and secondary students to pursue biomedical subjects and careers with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and understanding risks
  6. Encourage a cultural change and facilitate the structured progression of researchers in the area of entrepreneurship, e.g., by providing more flexible policies on patent ownership, outside practice regulations and performance evaluations, etc.
  7. Improve alignment and complementarity of existing schemes to drive a holistic and even development of talent across the GBA region

The Report has been uploaded to HKSTP website at https://www.hkstp.org/bmt-talent-hk-gba-whitepaper/.

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