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CUHK Launches Six New InnoHK Centres

Image Credits: CUHK, Press Release

In a major contribution to Hong Kong’s innovation agenda, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has established six InnoHK Centres covering health, biomedicine, robotics and artificial intelligence. Located at the Hong Kong Science Park and established under the Hong Kong Government’s InnoHK initiative, the centres apply CUHK’s world-class research discoveries to generate translational impact on a local, national and global scale.

Combining expertise from CUHK and leveraging partners from prestigious global universities, the centres will position Hong Kong as a global powerhouse of innovation connecting the world with the rapidly emerging research and innovation ecosystem of the Greater Bay Area.

The Vice-Chancellor and President Professor of the University noted that the co-location of research teams with industry partners and the injection of international collaborators enables extraordinary research breakthroughs to have translational impacts that can benefit economies, peoples and societies on a potentially enormous scale.

CUHK’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor stated that the centres will translate the outputs of CUHK’s world-class research into new products, novel solutions and expand the University’s technology applications to markets which will enable more people to benefit from the research they do.

CUHK has seeded two unicorns – the most of any university in Hong Kong and has seeded many start-ups and successful spinout companies. The InnoHK centres feature alongside other developments in the University’s research, innovation and entrepreneurship agenda that include the CUHK InnoPort, Innovation and Entrepreneur Days, and the University’s recent Forum on Developments in the Greater Bay Area.

Five of the centres have commenced operations at the Hong Kong Science Park, with the sixth soon scheduled to commence in January 2022.

InnoHK is a major initiative of the HKSAR Government to develop Hong Kong as the hub for global research collaboration. This involves the establishment of world-class research clusters at the Hong Kong Science Park with research laboratories set up by world-renowned universities and research institutes to conduct collaborative researches. Health@InnoHK and AIR@InnoHK are the first two research clusters established.

Under the Health@InnoHK cluster, the University has set up the following centres:

  1. Centre for Novostics
    The Centre for Novostics (Novostics), with the meaning of novel diagnostics, aims to push forward the frontier of molecular diagnostics. Novostics will focus on the development of cutting-edge diagnostics based on cell-free nucleic acids in blood and other bodily fluids, particularly around prenatal diagnosis and cancer diagnostics. These research areas will accelerate the application of liquid biopsy and promote Hong Kong as a leading molecular diagnostic centre in the world.
  2. Microbiota I-Center
    The Microbiota I-Center (MagIC) harnesses and translates the human microbiome into cutting-edge innovations for early disease detection and prevention. MagIC focuses on advancing science in the gut microbiome and promoting entrepreneurship. It is committed to developing a novel class of microbiome diagnostics and live biotherapeutics for common diseases including obesity, cancer, autism, inflammatory disorders and COVID-19, that will not only transform the lives of patients and their families but also accelerate Hong Kong into a world-class microbiome biotechnology hub.
  3. Center for Neuromusculoskeletal Restorative Medicine
    The Center for Neuromusculoskeletal Restorative Medicine (CNRM) is a multi-disciplinary, international consortium devoted to the application of convergent principles and technologies of biomedical science and engineering to restore structure and function to neuromusculoskeletal tissues and organs injured, diseased and degenerated due to ageing or trauma, for the maintenance of mobility and enhancement of quality of life through biomedical research and development. The CNRM combines the talents and expertise in stem cells, biomaterials, 3D bioprinting, tissue engineering, and personalised and translational medicine from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Karolinska Institutet (KI).
    Five Research Programs will be pursued:
    1. Stem Cells and Cell-Based Therapies;
    2. Tissue Engineering and 3D Microtissue Modeling;
    3. Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms;
    4. Preclinical and Clinical Translation; and
    5. Enabling Technologies, each consisting of research projects led by investigators from multiple disciplines

The CNRM will build on the infrastructural research capabilities and facilities of CUHK and the research set-up of the KI Hong Kong Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine located at the HKSTP. In addition, talent development at the CNRM will be promoted and enhanced by partnering with the relevant academic education and training programs at CUHK. A rigorous and progressive transition and commercialisation, as well as industrial partnerships and patient advocacy, will be pursued for efficient and effective evaluation and translation of the therapeutic agents, procedures, and technologies derived from CNRM research activities.

Under the AIR@InnoHK cluster, the following centres have been established:

  1. Hong Kong Centre for Logistics Robotics (HKCLR)
    The Hong Kong Centre for Logistics Robotics (HKCLR) was established with research contributions from the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). The Centre focuses on the research and development (R&D) of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for future workplaces as well as innovative solutions to the pressing problems in the logistics industry.
    In particular, it aims to advance robot intelligence in terms of smart perception, smart interactions, smart manipulation; and smart moving. The research team is composed of distinguished professors from CUHK and UC Berkeley and accomplished PhD degree holders across world-leading universities. The Centre is dedicated to pursuing innovative breakthroughs in ready-for-use robotics and AI technologies via close collaboration with academic and industrial stakeholders throughout Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area (GBA), and mainland China. It is expected that the Centre will foster the leading role of the local logistics industry in the GBA and mainland China, meanwhile enhancing its competitive edge in the global arena.
  2. Multi-Scale Medical Robotics Center (MRC)
    The Multi-Scale Medical Robotics Center (MRC) laboratory is positioned to enable translational research on and productisation of novel surgical robotic technologies, through the R&D programmes of Endoluminal Multiscale Robotic Platforms for Diagnostics and Therapeutics, Magnetic-guided Endoluminal Robotic Platform, and Imaged-Guided Robotics Intervention. The Hybrid Operating Room of the MRC Lab, equipped with MRI and Robotic-Assisted C-Arm X-ray Imaging System (Artis Zeego) machines, enables real-time, intra-operational medical imaging during surgical robotics interventions R&D, which is a one-of-its-kind facility in Asia that is fully dedicated to R&D and preclinical evaluations of new surgical robots and medical devices via live animal and cadaveric studies. MRC is well connected with the industry and serves as a synergistic platform for clinicians, engineers, and researchers from local and overseas top-rank universities to contribute their efforts through transdisciplinary collaborations, to enable the acceleration of new IP generations, pre-clinical evaluations and the commercialisation of novel surgical robots, and to ultimately benefit patients and communities worldwide.
  3. Centre for Perceptual and Interactive Intelligence (CPII)
    Since its inception, the Centre for Perceptual and Interactive Intelligence’s (CPII) mission has been to make use of Hong Kong’s international research networks for AI talent development and exchange, nurture AI start-ups and bring academic outcomes to meet industrial demands. With strong capabilities in computer vision, multilingual speech and language technologies, natural language processing, and AI-enabled design automation, CPII will efficiently connect research with industry to accelerate social implementation.
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