SmartMore, an artificial intelligence (AI) and smart manufacturing firm based at the Hong Kong Science Park, sent invitations to the press for a signing event on Wednesday with the HKIC.

In his blog, Chan wrote: “After research and careful consideration, HKIC will on Wednesday sign a strategic cooperation agreement with a Hong Kong unicorn – which has a market valuation of more than US$1 billion, a technology enterprise that specialises in industrial AI large-scale models and smart manufacturing.

“The agreement will cover the expansion of research and development investment and training of talent, as well as the promotion of the use of AI large-scale models in the Greater Bay Area, so as to speed up the digital transformation in the region.”

Authorities earlier said there were more than 10 unicorns in Hong Kong as of the end of last year.

“AI application in the industrial field has been relatively scattered. It is also difficult to copy the technology among different industries. This has become a shortcoming for the industry,” Chan said.

“But the efficient learning and standardisation system of large-scale AI models has allowed the technology to be adjusted quickly to adapt and match the different needs of various industries.”

Hong Kong leader John Lee Ka-chiu announced the launch of HKIC in his 2022 policy address, saying the move would further optimise the city’s fiscal reserves to promote the development of industries and the economy.

The finance minister is the chair of the HKIC.

Chan stressed on Sunday that the use of “digitally intelligent” workers would allow for high-precision, mass-volume production that could not be achieved with human labour.

Founded in 2019, the company specialises in high-speed, automated visual inspection of products, which can help manufacturers detect defective goods and better manage their inventories.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan has also expressed optimism over the growth of start-ups in the city. Photo: Edmond So

The enterprise has 10 centres for business, and research and development in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore, as well as representative offices and partner networks in Southeast Asia and Europe.

According to the invite, the signing event will be attended by Chan, HKIC chief executive officer Clara Chan Ka-chai, Jia and SmartMore senior executives.

The HKIC also manages the investment activities of various government funds, including the Hong Kong Growth Portfolio, the Greater Bay Area Investment Fund, the Strategic Tech Fund and the Co-Investment Fund.

Chan also expressed optimism over the growth of start-ups in Hong Kong, citing a survey from last December that showed their number had reached more than 4,250, up 7 per cent year on year.

He noted that about one-fifth of the companies were founded by Westerners, adding that he hoped the push could boost the local start-up ecosystem.