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CUHK’s First Graduating Cohort of Deep-Tech Ventures

Image Credits: CUHK, Press Release
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The Deep-Tech Lab (DTL), an incubation programme initiated by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), celebrated its first graduation ceremony. Eight deep-tech ventures graduated from its inaugural cohort. These ventures span diverse fields, including healthcare, biotechnology, information technology, artificial intelligence, manufacturing, and environmental science. Through the DTL programme, these ventures have successfully expanded their market opportunities.

The DTL programme, launched by CUHK’s Centre for Entrepreneurship (CfE) in November 2023, aims to commercialise deep-tech projects and guide them into the market. It provides team-based mentorship, international networks, and business analysis support from CUHK’s MBA students. This support not only aids the startups but also offers valuable learning experiences for MBA students.

The Founder of DTL and Director of CfE at CUHK highlighted the significance of fostering academic entrepreneurship and commercialising research. He noted that the success of the first cohort underscores DTL’s commitment to quality ventures and effective incubation processes. Looking ahead, DTL plans to incubate approximately 18 to 20 deep-tech enterprises from Hong Kong and neighbouring regions, assisting them in penetrating Mainland China and North American markets.

The graduation event brought together researchers, startup teams, investors, business leaders, entrepreneurial mentors, and MBA students from local and international communities. During the ceremony, the eight graduating deep-tech ventures showcased notable achievements.

One startup received the 2024 Railway Technology Excellence Award and has potential collaboration opportunities with a US railway company through the mentor network. Another secured a new round of funding in the US, enabling flared gas from oil fields to expand its decentralised high-performance computing (HPC) data centre operations. A third, co-founded by a CUHK Professor from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, became the first standardised open-source university project from Hong Kong endorsed by the Linux Foundation. A fourth company has been registered in Calgary, Canada, to develop edge computing storage and information security markets while finalising investments from angel and venture funds.

A representative from one of the graduating ventures remarked that the DTL programme’s innovative model, which involves mentors debating and setting goals for ventures, stimulated their business mindset and filled knowledge gaps in financial accounting, patent licensing, and marketing. This approach helped transform their scientific research into a viable business.

During the ceremony, DTL also announced the establishment of a non-profit organisation to support its ongoing and future initiatives. This new entity aims to bridge universities, businesses, and public organisations to promote the commercialisation of deep-tech innovations and reinforce Hong Kong’s role as a super-connector. The founding members of this organisation include Professor Kevin Au, Dr Chen Fong, Professor Alex Fong, Mr Peter Lee, and Mr Francis Pun. The non-profit organisation will seek partial funding from the government and invite collaboration from professionals and organisations to amplify the impact of Hong Kong’s deep-tech ventures.

The Deep-Tech Lab (DTL) by The Chinese University of Hong Kong aligns with Hong Kong’s Smart City Blueprint by fostering innovation in fields like AI, biotechnology, and IT. By commercialising research and supporting deep-tech startups, DTL drives economic growth, enhances quality of life, and promotes sustainability.

Some of the ventures contribute to environmental goals and smart infrastructure development. Additionally, DTL cultivates talent and entrepreneurship, aligning with the blueprint’s vision of a skilled workforce. Its international market penetration efforts further position Hong Kong as a global innovation hub, supporting the blueprint’s strategic objectives.

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