Hong Kong authorities have announced new initiatives to increase artificial intelligence (AI) adoption in the region, including plans for a new AI Supercomputing Centre to support research and development.

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan confirmed the new AI plans during his Budget Speech ahead of the new national budget for the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

For Hong Kong, AI appears to be the most promising of all emerging technologies, with Chan describing it as “key to propelling the development of digital economy in Hong Kong.” Highlighting AI’s importance to the city-state, officials have earmarked a slice of the national budget to stimulate ecosystem growth.

Chan confirmed an allocation of HK$3 billion (US$383 million) to Cyberport for the proposed launch of an AI subsidy scheme. The funds will be used to support early-stage startups and local universities exploring novel AI applications, providing computational support while attracting global talent to the region.

“The subsidy will also be used to strengthen the cyber security and data protection of the Centre, and launch promotional and educational activities, etc, to encourage Mainland and overseas AI experts, enterprises and R&D projects to come to Hong Kong,” said Chan.

Cyberport has previously onboarded 150 Web3 firms, but armed with a burgeoning operational budget, pundits are predicting a spike in the number of AI firms looking to set up shop in the business district.

Hong Kong’s flagship tech ecosystem is poised to establish an AI Supercomputing Centre to power AI research in the region. While funds for the supercomputer have been provided, it appears that officials will provide fresh funds to expedite the operational date of the center.

The supercomputing facility, capable of processing 10 billion images in under one hour, is expected to have an operational power of 3,000 petaflops in early 2026.

To keep up with the global arms race for AI chips, the city-state’s budget will finance the establishment of the Hong Kong Microelectronics Research and Development Institute (HKMSRDI) in 2024 for home-grown semiconductor development.

Hong Kong’s AI adoption spree

Since generative AI hit the mainstream, adoption in Hong Kong has been through the roof, with myriad applications across several sectors of the economy.

In one use case, Hong Kong Hospital Authority officials disclosed plans to use AI to solve the debacle of two drug-resistant superbugs in the region. The city-state has recorded several use cases of AI in finance, specifically in cracking down on the activities of money launderers at par with New York, Dubai, and London.

“The AI era is here, and it is being integrated into businesses around the world at remarkable speed. Encouragingly, our survey found that Hong Kong is perceived to be at par with other finance hubs in the race for AI,” PwC Asia Pacific Chairman Raymund Chao said in February.

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