The Chamber welcomes the government's plan to launch a $250 million "DesignSmart Initiative" to prompt innovation and design. Following consultation with the Chamber's Industry and Technology Committee and SME Committee, the Chamber would like to present its views as follows.Scope of Initiative1. The DesignSmart Initiative should supplement the Innovation and Technology Fund by encouraging less technology-intensive type of innovation.2. We agree that the scope of the DesignSmart Initiative should not be industry-specific, but should aim at supporting and promoting design and related activities that would offer businesses the ability to differentiate themselves from their competitors, add value to their products or services, and increase their economic competitiveness.3. In this regard, the Initiative should be more focused on design services of a producer-related nature, i.e. not design services for the end-user consumer (like interior design for a flat-buyer or tenant. Having said that, the design services should not be limited to product design for manufacturers, but should cover designs for service industries.4. In addition to the scope of design services named in the consultation document, therefore, other designs which add value to the service process should also be added, such as multimedia design and exhibition design.Design and Branding Research5. Design/Branding research projects should be encouraged and undertaken by universities, industry support organizations and trade associations. The Commission could consider allowing the participation of selective SMEs in the research schemes for test marketing.6. The Commission should support an in-depth research investigation on the design industry in Hong Kong, covering the industry size, strength and contribution to the economy. 7. Given with the growing China market, the Commission should encourage some theme-specific research topics as a platform to capture the business opportunities in the Mainland, e.g. Chinese life-style, cultural preference, etc.8. Funding for research projects aiming at advancing the competitiveness of whole sector(s) should be encouraged, e.g. new branding practices.Design-Business Collaboration Activities9. According to the government proposal, project funding of up to $100,000 will be provided on matching basis to design companies in collaboration with SMEs. We suggest that the programme should include those SME companies with in-house design facilities. 10. As the maximum limit per project is only $100,000, the application mechanism should be simplified to encourage SMEs' participation.11. While the application of the funding would be a one-off per SME, the one-off criteria should not apply to design companies, i.e. the latter should be able to make multiple applications with different clients.12. There is a need to make explicit the objectives and selection criteria of the funding, so as to avoid misunderstanding that the fund may be applicable for "operational" expenses like advertising.13. In addition to chambers, industry and trade associations, the Government could consider seeking designer companies to help publicise the programme.Professional Continuing Education14. The aim of professional continuing education is to build up design and branding capability and nurture talents. As talents should be developed at the early stage, the programme should be extended to secondary schools. The Education Commission should also strength the cultivation of arts and design concepts in the curriculum of both primary and secondary schools, in view of HKSAR's efforts in making Hong Kong a regional design centre.15. Specific short-term training could also be provided to companies' decision makers, helping business executives understand the market trend in design and coordinate with designers.16. The Initiative should include marketing training courses, helping participating designers understand the market trend and taste preferences in major markets, e.g. US and Europe.17. The "Young DesignStar Scheme" should be renamed as "New DesignStar Scheme" to enroll more designers with potentials to be developed. To make the scheme more effective, the number restriction of two "stars" per year should be relaxed, so as to encourage more new designers to be trained in overseas reputable organisations. 18. Considering the budget limitation to nurture new "stars", the Scheme could be organised in two modes:  to organise short-term internship programme for universities students in design fields, and  to provide partial sponsorship to more than two designers, rather than full allowance to the selected "stars". The Commission could also consider seeking donation from the industry.General Support Activities19. Since design is a very visible service, apart from conferences, exhibitions and seminars, it is worthwhile to conduct roadshows overseas, displaying awarded pieces to showcase Hong Kong achievements to the international market.20. The Government should encourage and provide support to Hong Kong designers to participate in international competition schemes. Innovation and Design Centre21. The Innovation and Design Centre should provide one-stop services, including designers-sourcing services, general consultation and related services.Administration22. The objective of the Initiative is to deliver concrete and visible results. As with the other government funding schemes, proper administration mechanism should be established to monitor the development process of the projects, and to keep track of the result.
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