HONG KONG: Good Economics for Hard Times (4) — Shall One (Not) “Social-Wash” through ESG, for the Sake of Authentic For-Prosperity Economy ?

Tai Po InnoPark (Formerly known as “Tai Po Industrial Estate”) (source: photographer in the “Innofacturing InnoPark Connect” Event Day on 12th August)

Continue Chapter (3) — Entering the later stage of the public policy research project with the interns and partners, the Good City Foundation, Social Enterprise Summit and partners like RE-LOOK (youth organisation) and Time To Gold (food culture social enterprise) took the theories (1) (2) and policy analysis (3) forward, and went to the communities and neighbourhoods in Tai Po District for survey and local studies with need/expectation assessment.

In the last 3 weeks in August, we spoke over 20+ industrialists and smart manufacturers in Tai Po District, and 16 resident representatives from small shops, rural committees, youth organisations and community service workers with open-ended assessment questions. A survey towards around 200 students in a high school was conducted as well. The following Chapter 4 in the journal remarked some key insights and general impressions.

Innofacturing with a Human Soul — Brand “Hong Kong” Lab to Prototyping — Industrialists Search for a Path for Doing Good

「由零到一、由一到十」、「香港“小”生產、內地“大”生產」as put by Dr. H.L. Yiu, the Head of Re-Industrialisation and his team in the Hong Kong Science Park, the development of InnoParks in Hong Kong (Tai Po, Yuen Long, Tseung Kwan O) (formerly known as “Industrial Estates”) drives “Innofacturing in Hong Kong for the world” with the principles of:

  1. InnoPark is for applied sciences and technologies that empower advanced manufacturing, over traditional manufacturing.
  2. Zero-to-One and Scaling to empower the economic contributions to Hong Kong through advanced manufacturing.
  3. InnoPark is the testbed for advanced manufacturing innovation where the products could be designed, examined and insured for global export.

Useful innovation usually begins with a mind to fix social challenges, deep science, technology and advanced manufacturing are of no exception. Though the current Re-Industrialisation Policies put by The Hong Kong SAR Government and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks have not highlighted the fulfilment of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance), surprisingly, more than expected number of industrialists and smart manufacturers in Tai Po InnoPark that we have spoken to have been deploying their own ways of campaigns, social projects and community engagement.

While they are not truly sure of larger corporate concepts such as ESG or CSV (Creating Shared Values), the industrialists believe that the social elements and linkage to the communities are of top concerns as their products are consumed by the neighbourhood everyday; and some put top concern of future talents at their company management minds:

Community Explore (1) — “Innofacturing Day” in InnoPark Hosted by the Re-Industrialisation Team in The HK Science Park

Time Medical Systems is a medical engineering venture project initiated partly by The University of Hong Kong (as a local supplier), co-founded by a group of Hong Kong medical professors who graduated from HKU, Columbia University and others. While most of their medical science R&D recruits, contrary to other corporates in Science Park, are local in Hong Kong, they believe the medical sciences with technology in such sectors will become the future of young talents who like to serve societies with passion in medical sciences. The legacy of top students and talents in Hong Kong who used to apply for conventional MBBS could be inherited with advanced technology.

Yakult has been interested in doing more with the communities (factory visit and school talks). The company has been dedicated also in exploring public health data-science collaboration with local universities as health data lab to study more citizen dietary preference through the product consumption behaviours. The company is product-driven (with their lacto drinks), consumer experience concerned, and exploring more public sectors and social innovation related collaboration for engaging in health education, open consumer health data experience to customize Hong Kong people-friendly lacto drinks.

Shen Nong BIOMASS Technology engages social enterprises and schools for general education and support the low-income communities by providing specific products making, design and employment opportunities. Meanwhile, the owner Mr. Kenneth Mok is being supportive to young technology and science talents to share facilities and innovate / design their products under their factories.

Know-Your-District (KYD) by Neighbourhood Audit — Do We Know What We Need / Want / Expect ?

The roundtable event in InnoPark Tai Po was wrapped up with the key concern “human capital”, as stressed by Dr. Yiu for more than twice and the fellow industrialists, where it aligns to our assumption (2) that the sustainable growth in Hong Kong can no longer be relied on financial capital (with the poor redistribution of gain from trade) or labour growth (even dropping heavily since 2020). The environment that shapes the long-term profitability of innovation driven by (technology or social) entrepreneurship (human) across strategic locations for advanced techno-manufacturing such as Tai Po District, where it is at the same time paid little attention with public and private resources for regeneration, is perhaps the gap of growth to fuel.

While the industrialists as mentioned have been deploying their own “business for goodlaissez faire, by our analysed assumption (3) it is perhaps of strong political economic importance to devise a roadmap and common creating shared values practices and behaviours specific for Tai Po / Northern Metropolis (urban clusters that locate the advanced manufacturing innovation supply-chain) that link, engage and happen right at the neighbourhood communities.

To set up the potential actions towards the roadmap and cultivating common CSV practices in Tai Po / Northern Metropolis, a deeper community explore was conducted across the neighbourhoods in Tai Po with the support of social enterprise “Kai Fong Tour 街坊帶路” and SKH Bishop Mok Sau Tseng Secondary School.

Community Explore (2) — Neighbourhood Visit to Youth Community, Small Shops, Community Service Centres and Rural Committee

16 resident representatives from small shops, rural committees, youth organisations and community service workers with open-ended assessment questions.

Questions regarding their current impressions of the community and Tai Po District, awareness of “Re-Industrialisation” and expectation of future development in the community were raised.

While most of the small shops remain unaware of the latest development of industries, it is the youth organisation and community service workers who have been taking more proactive role to connect technology sectors to engage the community (especially low-income families and youth) with STEM education, so as to ensure the minimal employability and stay relevant to the market change.

For Those Who Do (Not) Leave — Will There Be A Landmark Like “The Mills” for Tai Po?

In the school talk hosted with the support of RE-LOOK in the SKH Bishop Mok Sau Tseng Secondary School, an impressive question brought up by a student (finally) on whether Tai Po would one day get to have a community-commerce landmark like The Mills Fabrica; and what would make Tai Po District be able / ready to nurture one?

This is to our gratefulness that the younger generation shared the same thought with us. While we stay optimistic, for those who stay, we look forward to more co-learning, local dialogues with all district stakeholders (including more local industrialists, families and innovators) to brainstorm and push the district limit for ensuring Tai Po District to become a more innovation-friendly neighbourhood.

School Talk Hosted at the SKH Bishop Mok Sau Tseng Secondary School.

Reference

  1. HONG KONG: Good Economics for Hard Times (1) — How to Communicate the Realistic Socio-Economic Outcomes and Reasoning in Industry 4.0?
  2. HONG KONG: Good Economics for Hard Times (2) — It Takes Strong Political Will To Lead 4.0 Industrial Economic Choice Towards New Urban Sustainability And Growth Formula
  3. HONG KONG: Good Economics for Hard Times (3) — How Will Tai Po District Share 1 Million More Populations With 450,000 New Jobs Upon Industrial Estates And Neighbourhood Renewal?

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