Lawmakers Charles Mok (IT Constituency) and Kenneth Leung (Accountancy Constituency) propose new funds to enable SMBs' technology adoption and tech talent cultivation in their joint submission on the 2014-15 Budget that Financial Secretary John Tsang will announce on Feb 26.

In their submitted document, the Legco Councilors suggest the government to set up a HK$100 million, five-year fund to help local SMBs kick off projects that enhance operation efficiency, business transformation, and cyber security through the use of ITC technologies or compliance with standards like ISO20000 (IT service management) and ISO27001 (information security management).

They propose that each approved project--to be completed within two years--should be awarded HK$100,000 or 50% of the approved expenditure at maximum, whichever is less.

Tech education fund

Leung and Mok also suggest the government to earmark HK$200 million in 2014-15 for setting up a tech education fund that allows faculties or departments--such as ICT, computer science, and engineering--of UGC (University Grants Committee)-funded institutes to enhance curriculum of study programs through developing course contents that match the needs of the ICT industry, enriching learning experience, and providing more courses on future technology and innovation trends.

Each approved project, the lawmakers suggest, should get HK$1.5 million or 90% of the approved budget at maximum, whichever is less.

The government should also raise the subsidy for each successful Continuous Education Fund (CEF) applicant to HK$20,000 and broaden the scope of reimbursable courses to cover ICT while encouraging course providers to offer programs related to the key areas of development in the 2014 Digital 21 Strategy --such as IoT, cloud computing, building information modeling.

Fund to engage youngsters in tech

The two Legco members also expand their suggestions to include ICT education for secondary school students. The government should set aside HK$30 million for the OGCIO to launch a new ICT Ambassador Program where 50 secondary students showing potential and passion in tech and innovation will receive training and exchange opportunities through workshops and mentoring each year, according to the document.

The program should also award outstanding students internships at international ICT firms, overseas universities, or R&D organizations, they add.

Among other proposed actions, both Mok and Leung suggest raising the annual Composite Information Technology Grant to HK$400 million in 2014-15 and 2016-17 to help schools improve network infrastructure, equipment, computer hardware/software, and technical support, and their readiness for implementing eLearning.