The Provisional Hong Kong Science Park last week signed the first tenant, We Software, for its information technology cluster, one of four clusters in the park, according to officials. The other clusters include electronics, biotechnology and precision engineering.
We Software, a Hong Kong-based software engineering company specializing in embedded software and security products for the Asian market, will be the first information technology company to move into the Hong Kong Science Park when the first phase is finished by December, 2001, according to Peter Lo, interim chief executive officer for the Provisional Hong Kong Science Park, Hong Kong Industrial Estates and Hong Kong Industrial Technology Center We Software has signed a nine-year tenancy agreement to occupy about 14,000 square feet for its headquarters and research and development operations, said T.W. Poon, chairman of We Software.
Poon said that since the Science Park is known to have stringent admission criteria that stress technology innovation, being a tenant in the park will help the company's profile.
We Software chose to move from its existing offices in Shatin to the Science Park in Tai Po because of its location, facilities and work environment, said Poon, who declined to reveal details of rental fees at the park.
According to Lo, the average rental fee for the park stands at HK$8 (US$1.03) per square foot but varies according to the amount of space occupied and length of the tenancy contract.
The Science Park takes up a total of 22 hectares or 330,000 square meters of land, which will be developed in three phases over a nine-year period, according to information posted on the park's Web site.
The construction of the first building in the Science Park commenced in March this year and infrastructure works are scheduled for completion in 2001, officials said. Phases 1a and 1b will be ready for occupation in December 2001 and July 2002, respectively, they added.
For Phases 2 and 3, which will occupy about 14 hectares, reclamation work has already begun, officials said.
According to Daniel Lam, director of marketing and development of the Science Park, seven companies have already signed as tenants. Apart from We Software, other tenants include Motorola spin-off ON Semiconductor Corp., Solomon Systech, California-based integrated circuit and discrete component manufacturer AnalogicTech, and local electronic portable producer Group Sense in the electronics cluster; Kinetana Hong Kong Herbal Pharmaceuticals in the biotech cluster; and Scarborough Hong Kong in the precision engineering cluster.
"The [supplier-client] relationship of We Software and Group Sense is an excellent example of how synergy will be achieved within the Science Park," said Lo. "Our cluster concept will enable tenants to experience faster growth in a collaborative environment."
The seven tenants signed up so far will occupy about 20 percent of the floor space of Phase 1, Lam said. Though ON Semiconductor was the first to sign a tenancy agreement with the park, it will not be the first one to move in. Lam said that since Phases 1a and 1b are designed for small and medium-sized enterprises, companies that occupy relatively smaller offices, such as We Software, will move in when these phases are complete.
According to Professor Charles Kao, chairman of the Development Committee of the Board of Directors of the Provisional Hong Kong Science Park, the park has received 32 applications for tenancy since its launch in November 1999.
"It's a very encouraging sign for us," said Kao.
Lam said that the Park has paid special attention to objectively reviewing tenancy applications.
"We have to carefully evaluate the applications on the basis of whether our tenants will be beneficial to the long-term science and technology development of Hong Kong and to the other tenants in the Park," said Lam.
Spectra Technologies, a former tenant of the Hong Kong Industrial Technology Center (HKITC), has expressed initial interest in moving into the Science Park when its current tenancy contract expires, according to Alfred Hung, marketing director of the company.
Citing his company's experience at the HKITC, Hung said being based in the park would boost the company's image and increase the confidence of its customers and partners.
Though the company's current offices are located in central Kowloon, Hung said the company wouldn't be inconvenienced by a move to Tai Po so long as the park is linked to the public transportation system and provides sufficient parking space.
Although Spectra is interested in moving to the Science Park, the company has so far not received much information from Science Park officials, said Hung.
"We have not been given much information so far, not the floor plan or master plan. It's difficult for us to sign a tenancy agreement if we don't have comprehensive information," Hung said.
When asked about the lack of response from Science Park officials to Spectra's inquiries, Lo admitted the Science Park needs to boost its marketing effort to attract tenants and said he has made this a priority.
"We'll be doing more to publicize the park and let businesses know more about it," Lo said, adding the park has received more than 80 inquiries since its launch nine months ago.