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HKUST-Sino competition winners stun with innovations

Image Credits: HKUST, Press Release

The HKUST-Sino One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition 2020 has recorded a record-high number of participating teams at its 10th anniversary this year.

Three winning teams comprising students, faculty and alumni of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) will compete with finalists from seven other regions, including Macau, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Zhongshan and the Yangtze River Delta, in the Grand Final to be held later in 2020.

Hosted online for the first time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition this year attracted 151 participating teams – 29% more than the previous year and the highest in a decade.

To enhance participation and diversity, HKUST provided an online matching platform for its member to seek partners outside of the University.

Photo: The hydrogel offers more flexible and accurate testing environment than its counterpart derived from animal sources.

The University also introduced the “Best Video Award” this year, drawing over 2,000 voters to select what they considered the best pitching video. Presentation of the finalists was also online for the first time.

This year’s champion was “SPES Tech Limited” – a biotech start-up that won both the President Award and the GF Innovation Award for its proprietary photosensitive hydrogel.

The hydrogel has good tissue-like properties to simulate in-vivo cell environment, creating more physiologically relevant models for biomedical studies.

Using advanced genetic engineering and light-sensing technology, the new hydrogel created by the team offers a more flexible and accurate testing environment than its counterpart derived from animal sources.

The company is the alumni of a global tech giant Merck’s China Accelerator and the incubatee of HKSTP Incu-Bio Program.

The microscope can check whether a patient’s cancer cells are cleanly eradicated during surgery.

PhoMedics Limited, the winner of the Gold Award (first runner-up), developed a technology called computational high-throughput autofluorescence microscopy with pattern illumination (CHAMP).

This allows a surgeon to check during a cancer surgery whether the patient’s cancer cells are cleanly eradicated.

Checking during surgery greatly minimizes the chance of requiring a second operation.

The technology is now undergoing a clinical trial at the Queen Mary Hospital and will soon be trialled at the Prince of Wales Hospital as well.

Meanwhile, the Silver award winner was LunaLearn Ltd. Their team developed a mobile application that offers scientific guidance on the milestones of a baby’s development from birth to 36 months. The team also designs corresponding toys at different stages to encourage quality interaction between parents and infants.

The Associate Director (Innovation) at Sino Group stated that the firm takes a holistic approach to innovation aimed at supporting Hong Kong’s growth into an international technology hub.

Despite challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams have gone above and beyond, demonstrated resilience and given their best shots, he said.

The research and applications of the winning teams have showcased how technology can improve lives and the importance of imagining possibilities, especially in the healthcare industry.

The Director of HKUST’s Entrepreneurship Center stated that the university and the Entrepreneurship Center will continue to provide teams with opportunities, platforms and resources to turn their creative ideas into practical technologies that have societal and commercial impacts.

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