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Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 21:50

MIT to launch 'Innovation Node' in HK

By Xinhua

MIT to launch 'Innovation Node' in HK
Maclaurin Building is shown on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Feb 22, 2006 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)

HONG KONG - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) President L. Rafael Reif, who is visiting Hong Kong this week, has announced that the university will launch an Innovation Node in Hong Kong next summer.

The announcement came a few days after the approval of funding application for the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB) by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council.

The Innovation Node will be a collaborative space that aims to connect the MIT community with unique resources -- including advanced manufacturing capabilities -- and other opportunities in Hong Kong and the neighboring Pearl River Delta.

By combining resources and talent, the space aims to help students learn how to move ideas more rapidly from lab to market, according to the MIT.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Monday welcomed the MIT initiative as it would represent a key partner for global innovation.

Leung said the ITB to be set up soon would provide more focused efforts to push forward broad-based collaboration with MIT and identify further cooperation opportunities both on the Chinese mainland and overseas.

The MIT initiative was not the first such collaboration attempt by the world's top-level research institutions this year.

In March, University of Chicago introduced a new academic center in Hong Kong. The center, which is already home to the Chicago Booth Executive MBA Program in Asia, is also a home for University of Chicago faculty, graduate students and undergraduates working in Hong Kong and throughout Asia.

It represents all parts of the university, including the college, the academic divisions, the professional schools and the university's affiliated laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Marine Biological Laboratory.

The university's president Robert Zimmer said it was of great value for faculty and students to have opportunities for direct engagement and build collaborations and institutional connections with Hong Kong as the world was witnessing an extraordinary set of political, social and economic developments with deep cultural roots in Asia.

In Hong Kong, for the first time, a University of Chicago center will be designed from the beginning to accommodate both the Chicago Booth Executive MBA and the broad-ranging engagement of the university as a whole, he noted.

One of the top medical universities in the world, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, also tendered the olive branch with a plan to set up its first overseas research center in Hong Kong.

The university -- which has awarded Nobel laureates in medicine or physiology since 1901 -- said in February that it will establish the center after local businessman Lau Ming-wai, chairman of Chinese Estates Holdings, made a donation of about HK$400 million (US$51.6 million) to the project.

The university's president Anders Hamsten said the center, which aims to lure international talent in the field of stem-cell technology, would focus its research on three major disease areas -- heart failure, liver diseases and neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.

Karolinska Institute plays a leading international role in several areas of stem-cell research and regenerative medicine. The new Ming Wai Lau Center for Regenerative Medicine will have two campuses -- one in Stockholm and another in Hong Kong.

Collaboration in professional fields started years ago. Cornell University initiated a collaboration with City University of Hong Kong to create the first veterinary medicine academic program in 2010.

Last spring, the School of Veterinary Medicine was launched in the City University. The medical school, the first in Hong Kong, is envisioned as a center of excellence in animal health education, research and discovery, and clinical care in China and the Asia-Pacific region.

Unlike many offshore colleges that collaborate with US veterinary schools which intended to train professionals to practice in the United States, the school aimed at filling the need for veterinarians in Hong Kong and a few slots will be reserved for students from the Chinese mainland.

Besides overseas renowned research institutions, local universities also joined hands with the country's Ministry of Science and Technology to conduct research in various fields.

The ministry last month approved five sub-centers of Chinese National Engineering Research Center in Hong Kong. These sub-centers engage in studies of precious metals, rail electrification and automation, steel engineering, heavy metal pollution prevention and human tissue functional reconstruction.

So far there are six such sub-centers in Hong Kong. The first was established in 2012 when the sub-center of National ASIC System Engineering Research Center was launched in Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute.

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