Professor Ka Ho Mok talked about smart cities and technological innovation, which are shared ambitions for regions and cities around the world – including in the European Union. They aim at improving the quality of life in cities, not only economic growth and development. Smart Cities are increasingly important to think about and promote in light or urbanization trends, particularly in Asia. Kowloon East is a smart city pilot area, set out in the 2017 Policy Address.
Professor Mok’s talk provided Insights into the contemporary issues of innovation policy in Hong Kong. He is interested in policy promoting steady, sustainable economic growth and improving quality of life, and how we can conceptualise and measure this. Ka Ho starts with the Triple Helix model – government, industry and academia – but makes the argument that we need to go beyond this to meaningfully capture the production of transformative innovation and entrepreneurship in the contemporary realm. We need to bring in social community and civil society. Entrepreneurship is a cultural phenomenon, a lifestyle, and so policies that superficially incentivize collaboration across academia and industry do not do enough. We need to culturally, socially, break down silos between industry and academia; government wants the two groups to be better aligned, but the different groups have different incentives (e.g. academics care about journal articles). The government needs to encourage social, community and cultural engagement. Ka Ho proposes a new framework to promote this way of thinking: a multiple networks and hybrid organizations approach that includes academia, community & civil society, the state and industry. This multi-faceted approach should be accompanied by an evaluation of innovation and entrepreneurial policy that captures more than economic indicators (e.g. patents, number of companies formed) and more on impact on quality of life.
Summary prepared by Robyn Klingler-Vidra