As the global population ages and healthcare demands continue to grow, governments and companies worldwide are increasing investments in the biotechnology sector. With its strong research capabilities, international advantages, and comprehensive financial support, Hong Kong’s biotechnology and healthcare industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, becoming an essential engine for Hong Kong’s economic diversification.

1.     Thriving Biotechnology Industry
As of 2021, Hong Kong was home to more than 350 companies engaged in various biotechnology fields, including drug discovery, advanced medical devices, stem cell therapy, and genetic testing. In 2020, Hong Kong’s biotech companies attracted investments totaling US$1.552 billion, nearly six times that of the previous year. To support the development of biotech companies, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange revised its listing rules in 2018, allowing pre-revenue or pre-profit biotech companies to list in Hong Kong. Currently, 34 such companies have listed, raising over HK$50 billion.

2.     Rapid Growth in Healthcare Industry
Hong Kong boasts a high-end public and private healthcare system and a wealth of medical talent, providing a solid foundation for developing the healthcare industry. In 2019, the healthcare sector’s value-added reached HK$280.5 billion, accounting for 7.2% of Hong Kong’s GDP. As Hong Kong’s population ages, the demand for quality healthcare services continues to rise, and the healthcare industry is expected to maintain steady growth. Hong Kong is also actively developing medical tourism, attracting patients from mainland China and overseas for treatment or health checkups, further expanding the market.

3.     Advancing Industrial Parks and Infrastructure
To promote the development of the biotechnology and emerging healthcare industries, the Hong Kong SAR Government has increased investments in infrastructure. Examples include the Biomedical Technology Support Center at Hong Kong Science Park, which provides laboratory facilities and technical support, and the construction of the Advanced Manufacturing Center and the Healthcare Technology Center, scheduled to open in phases by 2025. The Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park will also establish a biomedical public service platform to support the development of the Greater Bay Area. These comprehensive industrial facilities will help biotech companies accelerate their R&D efforts and commercialize their achievements.

4.     Unprecedented Policy Support and Funding
The Hong Kong SAR Government attaches great importance to the development of the biotechnology industry and has introduced various policies to support it through funding, talent, research, and market access. For example, the HK$500 million Health and Medical Research Fund was established to support translational medical research; the Innovation and Technology Fund offers multiple funding schemes to support biotech R&D and industrialization; drug and medical device approval processes have been streamlined to help companies accelerate the commercialization of innovative products; and the Technology Talent Admission Scheme was launched to attract top-notch talent from around the world and enhance local research capabilities.

5.     Strong Research Capabilities and Commercialization
Hong Kong is home to world-class universities and research institutions with outstanding achievements in biomedical research. All five of Hong Kong’s universities have biomedical-related departments, cultivating a large pool of excellent research talent. There are 16 State Key Laboratories in Hong Kong, seven of which focus on biomedical research. These rich research results continuously provide new projects for biotech companies, driving innovative development. For example, a University of Hong Kong team developed a rapid COVID-19 saliva test kit and transferred the technology, while the Chinese University of Hong Kong successfully developed a novel Alzheimer’s vaccine that is about to enter clinical trials.

6.     Seizing Opportunities in the Belt and Road Initiative and Greater Bay Area
As the Belt and Road Initiative deepens, medical demand in emerging markets such as ASEAN and the Middle East continues to grow, providing rare opportunities for Hong Kong’s biotech and healthcare companies to “go global.” For instance, a Hong Kong company has set up a pharmaceutical factory in Thailand to produce and sell mosquito control products, while another has established a joint venture in Dubai to develop the Middle East medical device market. Additionally, Hong Kong actively participates in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, collaborating with mainland China to build a biotech innovation circle and drive regional industry synergy. The Hong Kong government has also set up a dedicated office to promote the convergence of drug and medical device regulatory mechanisms in the Greater Bay Area, facilitating the entry of biomedical products in both markets.

In conclusion, Hong Kong is accelerating the development of its biotechnology and healthcare industry with an international perspective and forward-thinking mindset, striving to achieve greater breakthroughs in areas such as drug discovery, advanced medical devices, stem cell and gene therapy, and to become a global hub for biotech innovation. Looking to the future, Hong Kong will further strengthen basic research, improve the commercialization mechanism, innovate financing models, and deepen regional cooperation, leveraging biotechnology to drive high-quality economic development and benefit people’s well-being.