HONG KONG SAR - Media OutReach - 30 September 2021 - The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) today signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) with three strategic partners to further propel the "GBA PolyVentures 2025" blueprint laid down by the University to leverage PolyU's experience in innovation and entrepreneurship education to provide the necessary support for nurturing deep tech ventures and accelerating their growth. The collaboration also aims to translate research excellence into societal impact to contribute to the development of innovation and technology in the Greater Bay Area (GBA). The MoU were signed between PolyU and its strategic partners, namely Everbright Limited, StartupHK Fund and Hai Robotics.
In his welcoming remarks at the signing ceremony, Dr Lawrence Li Kwok-chang, PolyU's Deputy Council Chairman, said, "The signing of the MoU between PolyU and its strategic partners echoes with the needs of our Nation and leverages the strengths of PolyU and other parties in working together for the development of innovation and technology in the GBA. Hai Robotics, one of our strategic partners today, was nurtured under PolyU's entrepreneurship ecosystem and has recently become a unicorn."
Hai Robotics is a start-up that provides autonomous case-handling robotic systems. It was founded in 2016 by 2012 graduate Mr Richie Chen and 2014 graduate Mr Bing Fang of PolyU's Department of Electronic and Information Engineering. The start-up witnessed rapid growth by making use of the manufacturing advantages of the GBA and benefitting from the enormous opportunities of the Mainland China market. Hai Robotics announced last week that it has completed two rounds of financing garnering US$200 million in total, and its valuation has exceeded US$1 billion.
The Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government, Mr Alfred Sit, commended the GBA PolyVentures 2025. He said that the National 14th Five-year Plan indicates clear support for Hong Kong's development into an international I&T hub and integration into the overall development of the country. The deepening collaboration with the Mainland, active participation in the development of the GBA and the integration into the nation's development are pivotal to the future innovation and technology development in Hong Kong. The HKSAR Government has all along attached great importance to university-industry-research collaboration. It is hoped that the synergies generated can enhance the innovation power in Hong Kong, drive the innovation and technology development in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and contribute to national innovation and achieve high-quality technological self-reliance.
PolyU's President, Professor Jin-Guang Teng, said, "In order to further promote the development of research and entrepreneurship in the GBA and to nurture future research talents to address the market needs, PolyU continues to collaborate closely with industry partners through 'GBA PolyVentures 2025', providing comprehensive support for start-ups in different stages from education and incubation, to accelerating and strengthening their development. The goal is to distil more than 300 seed stage innovation start-ups into at least 20 deep tech ventures each year and to nurture 25 impactful scale-ups in the GBA in the next few years through collaboration with strategic partners and various supporting initiatives."
According to the MoU, PolyU and Hai Robotics will explore establishing a joint innovation centre to promote PolyU's education in innovation and entrepreneurship, nurture talents in "New Engineering", and conduct applied research in robotics-related topics. PolyU and Everbright Limited will invest resources to help start-ups develop through collaboration between technology and industry, provide support to promising research projects, and roll out an internship programme for nurturing innovation talents. PolyU and StartupHK Fund will co-invest in PolyU's start-ups and help them enter the GBA market as well as launch initiatives to strengthen entrepreneurship education.
PolyU is also committed to providing high-quality education that keeps pace with the times and meets societal needs. The University will implement departmental scheme-based admissions from the 2022/23 academic year onwards, introducing two new elements of "Artificial Intelligence and Data Analysis" and "Innovation and Entrepreneurship". In addition, PolyU established the College of Undergraduate Researchers and Innovators and Residential College to encourage undergraduate students to conduct scientific research under the guidance of PolyU's professors. These initiatives are all designed to inspire students' scientific curiosity and enhance their innovation capabilities.
PolyU places high importance on nurturing technology ventures. PolyU recently signed an MoU with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) to kick off pre-incubation at university through the PolyU Micro Fund Scheme 2.0, which provides six months of entrepreneurship training to help entrepreneurial projects enter HKSTP's start-up incubation programme directly.
In addition, PolyU has launched two key programmes that leverage on the unique advantages of the technology and innovation ecosystem in the GBA. The first is PolyU's GBA Startup Postdoc Programme targeted at PhD graduates who are determined to start their own businesses. Under dual academic and industrial mentorship, participants can simultaneously continue with their research and start their own business for commercialisation of their research outputs. Since the launch of the programme over a year ago, six PhD students have won nine awards in total. Six start-ups have been established to receive post-incubation support; some of them have even received angel investment. PolyU will extend the programme to both Shenzhen and Hong Kong to attract more technology and innovation talents to develop in the GBA.
The second key programme is the GBA Maker Programme for hardware start-ups. PolyU makes full use of its unique advantages and facilities in manufacturing engineering, such as PolyU's Industrial Centre, to combine Hong Kong's edge in innovation technology and the manufacturing capabilities of the GBA to nurture top-notch hardware start-ups.
Through "GBA PolyVentures 2025", PolyU aims to systematically accelerate the growth of start-ups through education and incubation and ultimately contribute to the development of innovation and technology in the GBA by deepening the collaboration with strategic partners and leveraging their resources, experience and network, with the support of PolyU's new "Entrepreneurship Investment Fund".