December 3, 2020

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HK backs 63 anti-epidemic tech innovations

Sixty-three projects have been approved under the Public Sector Trial Scheme to combat the COVID-19 epidemic with total funding of over $102 million, the Innovation & Technology Commission announced on 30 October 2020.

Trials of the projects’ research and development (R&D) outcomes have commenced progressively in the public sector, the commission added. Lasting from 9 March to 10 April, the special call under the trial scheme received 332 applications. The approved projects come from local universities, R&D centres, designated local public research institutes and technology companies conducting R&D activities in Hong Kong.

They fall under several categories including COVID-19 virus detection or diagnosis methods, masks and other protective equipment, disinfection equipment and products, body temperature checking devices and virus transmission tracking devices.

Fifty-seven public organisations are involved in the trials of the approved projects with Fung Kai Care & Attention Home for the Elderly being one of them. It participated in the Centralized Nano Bubble System for Surface Cleaning & Sanitization trial project that splits ozone into nanobubbles.

The seniors’ care home noted that apart from being cost-effective and ready for use anytime, the system is also free of flammable or irritating chemicals and ideal for disinfecting elderly homes.

The University of Hong Kong is another public organisation participating in the scheme, including the trial of a COVID-19 diagnostic kit developed by a local biotech firm. The kit, with a short turnaround time, can assist organisations such as medical institutions and testing laboratories in conducting rapid COVID-19 testing.

Also, the university’s School of Nursing has taken part in the trial project of a fast-track vented enclosure developed by City University. Made of breathable protective materials, the enclosure aims to prevent viruses from spreading through the air in hospitals, thereby minimising the possibility of cross-infection between medical staff and patients.

To tackle the public health crisis caused by the COVID-19, this special PSTS-COVID-19 was launched in March-April 2020 to support the application of technologies in combatting the epidemic in Hong Kong. The scheme covers the production of prototypes/samples and/or conducting of trials in the local public sector of R&D outcomes which are ready immediately for trials to help Hong Kong combat the COVID-19 epidemic.

Upon receipt of an application, the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) will check the applicant”s eligibility. Ineligible applications will be returned to the applicant companies. The ITC will consider all information and supporting documents provided by the applicant company in assessing an application. All applications would be vetted based on their individual merits.

Eligibility

Applicants were required to be either an R&D Centre, a designated local public research institute, or a technology company incorporated in Hong Kong under the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 622) or registered in Hong Kong under the Business Registration Ordinance (Cap. 310) which is conducting R&D activities in Hong Kong, and not a government subvented organisation or a subsidiary of any government subvented organisation.

The R&D outcomes for trials were required to be owned by the applicant company and developed by the applicant company primarily in Hong Kong. The R&D outcome needed to also be immediately ready for trials to help combat the COVID-19 epidemic in Hong Kong, including those relating to detection/diagnosis/surveillance of the virus/disease, reduction of the risk of infection and spread of the virus, etc. The projects needed to facilitate the development of new products not already available in the market, and employ R&D results/deliverables owned and developed by the applicant itself.