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New HKUST Lab to Develop Health and Environment Solutions

Image Credits: HKUST, Press Release
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The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and its industry partner, an organisation principally engaged in the business of distribution, research and development of biochemical products, have inaugurated the HKUST-AP EnviroSci Ltd Joint Laboratory, marking a collaborative effort to drive technological advancements in health and environmental solutions. Under the memorandum of understanding, the industry partner will provide an initial funding of HK$20 million.

Image Credits: HKUST, Press Release

The Joint Lab aims to pioneer groundbreaking innovations, such as a highly effective and durable pest repellent against bedbugs. This novel formula, derived from the anti-pathogenic Multilevel Antimicrobial Polymer (MAP-1), has been certified to exhibit 100% repellency against bedbugs by labs in Mainland China and Switzerland. The eco-friendly anti-pest spray is anticipated to be utilised by Hong Kong athletes during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, addressing the increasing bedbug issue in Europe.

The advanced formula, known for its success in providing long-lasting protection against SARS-CoV-2 during the global COVID-19 pandemic, is not only effective against pests but also demonstrates the capability to inactivate up to 99.9% of highly infectious viruses, bacteria, and hard-to-kill spores. This breakthrough has the potential to revolutionise health and environmental protection measures.

Furthermore, the Joint Lab is venturing into the development of artificial organoids, such as 3D-printed cellular scaffoldings of human skin, lung, kidney, and heart cells. These organoids serve as a monitoring tool for air and water pollution, providing vital data on their potential harm to human health. The information obtained from these artificial organoids will play a crucial role in establishing health monitoring systems in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area (GBA).

Addressing environmental concerns, the Joint Lab is committed to contributing sustainable solutions, including support for water resources management, reduction, and revalorisation of food waste, and enhancing energy efficiency from conditioning to power plants. The focus extends to developing technologies for environmental hygiene and sanitation, air and water purification, net-zero circular resource utilisation, and energy-saving decarbonisation processes.

One notable application of the advanced formula is its integration into fabrics like cotton and linen without altering their texture. This opens up possibilities for long-lasting anti-pathogenic protection in clothing and accessories, particularly those worn or used by vulnerable populations such as patients, the elderly, or infants.

The collaboration underscores the importance of joint research units in addressing complex challenges through the synergy of academic and industry expertise. HKUST Vice-President for Research and Development emphasises the significance of such partnerships in accelerating innovation and making a meaningful impact on society. The university is dedicated to empowering joint research units to provide students with practical experience and exposure to industry-relevant projects.

The Chairman of HKUST expressed excitement about working with the experienced team at HKUST on impactful projects. The Joint Lab’s focus on environmental hygiene, air and water purification, circular resource utilisation, and energy-saving decarbonisation aligns with its commitment to developing technologies that can positively impact the world and create a better future.

The Director of the Joint Lab highlighted HKUST’s commitment to societal impact through research translation and innovation. The collaborative efforts between HKUST and APEL have already resulted in innovative solutions that will improve the quality of life in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area.

In addition to the pest repellent, the Joint Lab is actively developing solutions such as Algi-Gel, a hydrogel controlling algae proliferation in water, a sustainable washable air filter for better indoor air quality, and an enhanced cooling surface to improve air conditioning systems.

As the Joint Lab advances its research, it stands poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of health and environmental technologies, with the potential to influence policies locally and across the Greater Bay Area. The commitment to sustainability and innovation positions the collaboration between HKUST and APEL as a beacon of progress in the realms of health, environment, and technology.


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