Everything About Hong Kong’s Technology and Voucher Programme
By Nicholas Au, Date published: 2020-07-22
What You Need to Know About TVP
Since the beginning of 2020, the Hong Kong government has been further developing their funding programmes to support local businesses. While many of these programmes have been well received, many local businesses are not utilising the whole range of programmes available to them. One such programme that is often overlooked is the Technology and Voucher Programme (“TVP”). In this article, we look to explain what TVP is, and what you must know when applying for it.
What is TVP?
TVP is a Hong Kong government programme devised to help subsidise projects to improve the long-term competitiveness of local enterprises (excluding listed companies). This programme specifically caters to Hong Kong businesses who are looking to engage or adopt technological services / services for the purpose of improving their productivity, upgrade or transform their business processes.
Applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Has been registered in Hong Kong under the Business Registration Ordinance (Cap. 310); or
- Is incorporated and registered in Hong Kong under the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 622); or
- Was established in Hong Kong by relevant ordinances as statutory bodies; and
- Is not a listed company in Hong Kong, and is not a government organisation or subsidiary of such; and
- Has substantive business operations in Hong Kong at the time of application
Any project that emphasises technological services and solutions which improve productivity, or upgrades or transforms a business’ processes is eligible for funding under the scope of TVP.
For instance, appointment scheduling systems, cloud-based accounting solutions or even point-of-sales systems are allowable projects.
In each application, applicants must be able to argue how the proposed project will benefit their Hong Kong business operations – they must also provide a breakdown of the anticipated project costs. The following costs can be covered:
- Technology consultancy services whereby the applicant engages an external consultant to recommend technological services / solutions to be adopted
- The purchase, rental or subscription of off-the-shelf / readily available equipment / hardware, software and technological services or solutions that form an essential part of the project
- Project auditing for projects with approved funding exceeding HKD 50,000
Unfortunately, normal business operating costs are not eligible for funding under TVP. Such costs include:
- Rental of office premises
- Staff salary and other related expenses
- General office equipment / hardware, software and technological services or solutions for normal business operations
- Maintenance, warranty and insurance of existing and newly purchased equipment
- Non-technology related professional service fees
- Marketing and branding expenses
- Transportation and accommodation
- Financing expenses
- Administrative overhead
Funding Amount and Project Duration
If approved, TVP applicants are eligible to receive up to HKD 600,000 in funding, provided on a 3:1 matching basis. TVP applicants must contribute an initial payment of at least 25% of the total approved project cost in cash. Upon completion of the project, applicants must submit a final project report which details the outcome and expenses incurred in relation to this project. If this final report is accepted, the Hong Kong government will make a final payment to the applicant.
It is important to recognise that while up to six projects can be approved (subject to a cumulative ceiling of HKD 600,000), applicants are not allowed to undertake more than one TVP project at a time. In addition, unless an exception has been granted, each project should be completed within 12 months.
TVP accepts applications throughout the year with interested parties able to submit their applications online.
It is common for TVP assessors to request applicants provide additional information or documentation to support their application. In these situations, if an applicant fails to provide what is requested within one month of the assessor’s request, their TVP application will be rejected.
Because each application varies in regards to their complexity, comprehensiveness of information provided and given that there is no quota regarding how many applications can be received, the processing time for each TVP application will vary.
Each eligible application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, on its individual merits. Assessors will inspect each application to determine:
- The relevance of the proposed project to the applicants business
- The reasonableness of the budget
- The reasonableness of the implementation details
- Whether any consultants and/or service providers to be engaged have an adverse record against them
Audit and Monitoring Requirement
Applicants must provide an audited statement of income and expenditure for their approved TVP projects that will receive HKD 50,000 or more. This is to provide documentary support that the approved funds were used properly.
To satisfy this requirement, applicants must engage an independent, Hong Kong certified public accountant (“CPA”) to conduct an audit of these financial statements. Upon completion of the audit, engaged auditors are expected to produce an audit report expressing their audit opinion on whether the applicant has complied with the terms and conditions of their TVP funding agreement. They are also required to disclose any material non-compliance that was identified.
If an applicant fails to comply with these audit requirements, TVP assessors may decide to cease disbursement of any prior approved funding. In such circumstances, the assessor may also request the applicant to return and repay all TVP funding received in relation to this project.
TVP is a welcome addition to the Hong Kong government’s array of funding schemes. Given that the most successful companies are those who are constantly adapting to their surroundings and adopt new ideas, TVP can be viewed as one of the most appealing schemes currently available to Hong Kong companies!
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.