Hong Kong’s entrepreneurial scene is one that combines innovation and entrepreneurship with universities and laboratories, coupled with the industrial power of the Greater Bay Area.
In Hong Kong’s Science Park, a research cluster called InnoHK is collaborating globally. Health@InnoHK focuses on healthcare and AIR@InnoHK focuses on artificial intelligence and robotics.
Within Health@InnoHK, the Hong Kong Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases is currently collaborating with UCL and Stanford University.
Nancy Ip, director of the Hong Kong Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases, explains how the collaboration works.
“The Hong Kong Science Park provides much-needed infrastructure for innovation in technology development. And these biotech start-ups, by interacting with each other in the Science Park, can achieve many synergies.
One of our collaborative projects is to develop a blood-based Alzheimer’s disease biomarker test. So this is a very exciting project for us because it really shows the power of collaboration between the three agencies. As the global population ages, the prevalence of neurodegenerative disease, given that it is an age-related disorder, has been increasing substantially. “
AIR@InnoHK collaborates with Helen Meng et al. from the Center for Perception and Interaction Intelligence at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. As Helen Meng explains, they work with MIT and other institutions to develop wearable electronics.
“They can use it for rehabilitation, or we can use it for sports, for athletic training for athletes, where sensors embedded in clothing can be used to measure the movement of athletes during training.”
One of the companies that is part of this ecosystem is the French company Invivogen, which makes tools for cutting-edge biological research.
Li Xiaobing, the company’s chief commercial officer in Hong Kong, described one example, called reporter cell line.
“These cells are actually present in the device and used for vaccine development. After vaccination, the authors used our reporter cell line to test the immune response after vaccine injection. To do this, we had to use flow cytometry. The price can be as high as 500,000 euros, but at the Science Park they offer flow cytometers.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, or HKSTP for short, has a 20-year history and has more than 1,000 companies. Albert Wong, CEO, described the organization’s plans for the future.
“We need to leverage our fundamental strengths, including fundamental research and market access, to grow exponentially. I have worked in multinational companies all my life, mostly Western companies, and I have worked for a very large company for many years. The common denominator is , the first is that resources are limited and you need to make the most of it.
So how exactly does HKSTP overcome these challenges? It’s Albert Wang again.
“Electronic labs, biomedical labs, data, robotics, artificial intelligence, even we go into virtual labs so people can come in. They don’t need to buy all this expensive equipment, they can start doing technology, R&D right away.”
As Albert Wong explained, the Greater Bay Area around Hong Kong could provide a huge market for the product.
“There are 80 million people in a one- or two-hour travel area. This is a huge market opportunity. Also, Hong Kong can play a role in bringing Chinese, Hong Kong technology to Southeast Asia.”