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Friday, January 11, 2019, 09:23
HK sets up elderly care tech platform
By Kathy Zhang
Friday, January 11, 2019, 09:23 By Kathy Zhang

The Hong Kong Productivity Council announced on Thursday it launched the city’s first gerontechnology industry cluster – aiming to boost the city’s elderly care industry and provide a better quality of life to seniors.

The move is also a step to promote the development of a smart city in Hong Kong, according to the multi-disciplinary organization promoting the city’s productivity excellence.

The move is also a step to promote the development of a smart city in Hong Kong, according to the multi-disciplinary organization promoting the city’s productivity excellence

Glink  – a joint-force platform – consists of more than 30 supporting organizations, including elderly homes, social welfare institutions, hospitals, government departments, developers of gerontech products, startups and manufacturers.

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The cooperation platform was founded a month after the Hong Kong government launched HK$1 billion Innovation and Technology Fund. The fund’s functions include subsidizing elderly and rehabilitation service units to procure, rent or try out technology products.

The launch of Glink marks a new breakthrough as the platform links the supply and demand sides in the gerontech industry, said HKPC Principal Consultant Lawrence Poon Chi-kin.

Poon said two or three cooperation conferences and relevant events would be held annually to strengthen communication among industry stakeholders.

Lam Ching-choi, chairman of Elderly Commission – a steering committee assigned by the Hong Kong government to improve policy related to elderly care – believes the launch of the cluster responds to the demands of the "super aging" groups in society.

One of challenges industry stakeholders face is that some products had failed to match Hong Kong’s situation, Lam noted.

He said some large-scale products from Europe or the US did not match limited room space in Hong Kong, adding that cultural differences were another factor affecting the products’ efficiency.

Local startups will have more opportunities to reach elderly people and their carers; they can then design more functional products, Lam said.

Echoing Lam, Simon Wong, chief executive officer of Logistics and Supply Chain MultiTech R&D Center – a supporting organization of Glink – said though gerontech is a promising industry in Hong Kong, developers should carefully consider the needs of the local market.

Group Managing Director of Optical 88 – another supporting organization of Glink – Ben Cheng Hok-yuk said the company hopes to approach the latest industrial information and absorb more views from frontline practitioners.

The enterprise can apply useful information to their own products and provide higher quality services and products to the city’s elderly groups, Cheng said.

“One of the responsibilities of the company is to serve communities, while elderly care is an important sector,” said Cheng.

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He said the enterprise wanted to know more about the market and why people joined the cluster.

Optical 88 – a Hong Kong-based optical retail enterprise – launched services aimed at the city’s elderly people eight years ago.

The company’s latest gerontech product – smart glasses with hearing, tracking and reading aids – were displayed on Thursday. Elderly people are allowed to purchase the glasses using a medical voucher.

According to Census and Statistics Department, the number of elderly people in Hong Kong will continue to rise in the next 20 years. Elderly people aged 65 and above will be 31 percent of Hong Kong’s total population by 2036.

kathyzhang@chinadailyhk.com

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