Supercomputers allow researchers to carry out experiments that would otherwise be impossible because they are too small or too large, too fast or too slow, or simply too expensive. Combining supercomputers with large data allows researchers to solve problems by analysing Big Data and enabling exploration of new areas.
Supercomputers have become very important in medicine and public health issues. Researchers are using a combination of experiment and molecular simulations to understand how, at a molecular level to replicate how diseases work.
Simulating these systems in realistic biological environments for the long timescales required to understand viruses like COVID-19 has not previously been possible.
The additional speed and capacity of supercomputers allows the researchers to gain a more detailed understanding through realistic simulations, allowing them to shorten the time between research and real impacts for everyone.
Computer Simulations Speed Up Time- Intensive Lab Processes
Computer simulations can examine how different variables react with different viruses. Each of these individual variables can comprise billions of unique data points. When these data points are compounded with multiple simulations, this can become a very time-intensive process if a conventional computing system is used.
Viruses infect cells by binding to them and using a ‘spike’ to inject their genetic material into the
host cell. To understand new biological compounds, like viruses, researchers in wet labs grow the micro-organism and see how it reacts in real-life to the introduction of new compounds. This is a slow process without powerful computers that can perform digital simulations to narrow down the range of potential variables.
IBM’s Summit is one of the world’s most powerful high-performance computing facilities. The Summit supercomputer has tens of thousands of processors covering an area that is as large as two tennis courts at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). This lab has more computational power than one million top-of-the-line laptops.
Scientists are using supercomputers to run digital stimulations of 8,000 molecules interacting with the virus to find candidate molecules that might work. They have found 77 that might and those are currently being tested in labs.
“It took us a day or two, whereas it has traditionally taken months on a normal computer,” said Jeremy Smith, director of the University of Tennessee/ORNL Centre for Molecular Biophysics and principal researcher in the study.
While simulations alone cannot find a treatment that will work, this project was able to find 77 candidate molecules that can now be tested in trials.
Accelerate Understanding of Diseases
Using a mix of AI techniques, researchers will be able to identify patterns in the function, co-operation, and evolution of human proteins and cellular systems. Greater understanding of how these patterns work will help the the drug discovery process.
“Summit was needed to rapidly get the simulation results we needed. It took us a day or two, whereas it would have taken months on a normal computer,” said Jeremy Smith, director of the lab’s Centre for Molecular Biophysics.
The results obtained from the Summit supercomputer does not mean that a cure for the new coronavirus has been found but it is hoped that the computer’s findings will assist with studies in the future giving scientists a focused framework to further investigate the identified compounds. After further investigation it will reveal if any of them have the required characteristics to attack and kill the virus.
“We are very hopeful, though, that our computational findings will both inform future studies and provide a framework that experimentalists will use to further investigate these compounds. Only then will we know whether any of them exhibit the characteristics needed to mitigate this virus.” said the Director of the lab’s Centre for Molecular Biophysics.
The first-ever Innopreneur Experience Journey co-organised by the Federation of Hong Kong Industries (FHKI) and Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), aims to gather over 30 students from local secondary schools under a new programme that aims to enable their technology, creativity and new industry.
Over the four days, students will visit various companies and obtain real job experience to develop their understanding of the latest development and opportunities of new emerging industries, cultivate their passion for innovation and technology (I&T) and broaden their horizons and prepare them for further studies and future careers.
The programme has attracted 30 participating companies, which are FHKI member companies and a variety of HKSTP partner companies at Science Park and INNOPARK. The participating companies will offer executive shadowing, site visit and on-the-job experience to the students, demonstrating a concerted effort of industries in fostering future pillars.
The Kick-off Ceremony was held successfully at FHKI headquarters. The Under Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs, and corporate representatives attended the ceremony to witness the students commencing their extraordinary journey.
The FHKI and HKSTP Chairman stated that talent is an indispensable part of building up Hong Kong as an international I&T hub. HKSTP and FHKI are committed to cultivating local talent via various educational events which allow students to be exposed to I&T and related industries at an early stage and be inspired by I&T fellows and industrialists.
The Deputy Chairman one of the sponsoring companies and Chairman of the Hong Kong Innovation Foundation stated that innovation is the key to the long-term success and sustainable development of Hong Kong as our city grows into an international innovation and technology hub.
Talent development is, therefore, particularly crucial. The Hong Kong Innovation Foundation aims to provide a holistic innovation ecosystem, catering to the diverse needs of various sectors of the community. The Deputy Chairman thanked partners at the Federation of Hong Kong Industries and the Hong Kong Science Park for developing this important platform.
The Closing Graduation Ceremony, including sharing sessions of participating students and company representatives, will be held on the last day of the journey. To nurture a new generation of young talent for the I&T and industrial sectors, we hope to organise more Innopreneur Experience Journeys in future to create opportunities for students to get exposure to new emerging industries. HKSTP and FHKI will continue to join hands in bringing together people from different backgrounds and experiences, creating a diversified and vibrant I&T and industrial ecosystem in Hong Kong.
InvestHK notes that talent is a crucial factor in growing the economy, and nurturing a powerful, talented I&T generation is viewed as the priority. As such, Hong Kong is investing resources into STEM teaching and innovation in every phase of education from primary to secondary and tertiary.
The HKSAR Government and other relevant institutions have launched various funding schemes/programmes to support the I&T sector. The Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF), administrated by the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC), includes different schemes to support I&T research activities; facilitate technology adoption; nurture technology talent; support technology start-ups and foster an I&T culture.
Both the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks and Cyberport have set up individual incubation/acceleration programmes and funding schemes for assisting I&T start-ups and nurturing talent.
Other industry-specific schemes that target the I&T development of segments such as environment protection, construction, logistics, Chinese medicine and transport are being rolled out. Moreover, there are schemes tailor-designed for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) regarding market development and loan guarantee as far as their I&T activities are concerned.
The Ministry of Finance has announced it would develop a foundation for a modern and transparent digital financial ecosystem based on big data and open data by 2025. The initiative will be carried out under the Ministry’s digital transformation plan aimed for 2025, with orientations to 2030. It was newly signed by Finance Minister Ho Duc Phoc.
By 2030, the Ministry strives to establish a developed digital financial ecosystem with enhanced cybersecurity and efficiency. The overall objective of the plan is to accelerate digital transformation in tandem with building a sustainable, advanced, and globally-integrated national financial system. The move is expected to boost growth, enhance the resilience of the economy, and maintain macro-economic stability and financial security.
The Ministry will apply fourth industrial revolution technologies and leverage the progress that’s been made with the development of the e-government to transform the finance sector. It will offer more digital financial services to bolster the digital economy and digital society. The finance sector will play a vital role in creating, connecting, and sharing data, digitising platforms, and optimising the digital information of the government, people, and organisations.
The Ministry will cut down the number of public administrative procedures, and reform, simplify, and standardise public financial services to reduce costs and improve service quality and productivity by 2025. Accordingly, the delivery of most public administrative services will be shifted online, providing citizens with a paperless and convenient experience. The Ministry also intends to step up the implementation of the National Single Window system and the ASEAN Single Window system to facilitate trade.
Further, the Ministry has plans to set up a modern, public, and transparent digital financial platform by 2025, based on big data and open financial data. By 2030, the Ministry claimed a digital financial ecosystem will be formed in all fields, ensuring administrative effectiveness and the safety of information. Civil servants and public employees will be trained in digital skills to facilitate the process.
The rate of financial technology adoption in the country is gradually and significantly increasing. The number of subscribers of the government’s Mobile Money initiative has quadrupled since the service was launched in January this year. 67% of these subscribers reside in rural, mountainous, border, island, and remote areas.
As OpenGov Asia reported, subscribers with at least one Mobile Money transaction by the end of June exceeded 1.72 million, accounting for 97.3% of the total. Additionally, the number of households with fibre optic connections in the first half of this year increased by 9% compared to the same period of 2021 and by 17% against that of 2020. According to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), the goal of having 75% of households using fibre optic services this year is achievable. Vietnam also aims to have more than 50% of the population own digital payment accounts.
In deploying Mobile Money, the government has taken advantage of existing infrastructure and data and telecommunications networks. This has reduced social costs and expanded cashless payment channels on mobile devices. Industry experts have stated that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to universalise digital payments. Regardless of an Internet connection or bank account, and with just phone numbers, users can easily make cashless transactions through their Mobile Money account. The pandemic also greatly boosted the e-commerce market, with non-cash payments accounting for 70% of total retail transactions in Vietnam last year.
While nursing education mainly consists of classroom teaching and clinical practice, face-to-face teaching and clinical placements at medical institutions have been affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, to develop the training and learning experience of nursing students, a research team led by Dr Justina LIU, Associate Professor of School of Nursing, and Dr Kitty CHAN, Senior Teaching Fellow of the same school, has developed a virtual learning system “Virtual Hospital” that uses virtual reality (VR) technology to offer an innovative experiential approach to nursing education.
Virtual Hospital is the first-of-its-kind virtual learning system in Hong Kong that simulates the complex and chaotic environment of a real-life hospital ward. With a total of 11 games, the system provides five scenarios, namely “Clinical Practicum Orientation”, “Challenges of Delirium”, “Managing Multitasks”, “Prevention of Errors” and “Potential Heart Attack”.
Over 1,200 combinations of randomised situations and multiple choices make it difficult for students to predict the tasks they will be handling, while they are required to provide instant responses to multitasks and make appropriate nursing decisions through assessing a patient’s condition and interpreting their medical information.
It was noted that the majority of existing VR learning systems are skill- and procedure-focused and adopt a single patient management setting. The PolyU-developed Virtual Hospital requires students to handle multiple beds and take care of multiple patients at the same time. Unexpected incidents and clinical pitfalls are generated to test the student’s ability to apply their knowledge and prioritise nursing tasks amid various disruptions within a limited time.
Through VR experiential learning, students can improve the soft skills that are essential for their clinical practice, including situation awareness, flexibility to handle emergencies, as well as decision-making and communication skills.
Virtual Hospital allows users’ responses and decisions to be displayed on a TV monitor for group participation, while their communication with the virtual patients can be recorded for review. By answering multiple-choice questions, the student can reflect on the judgements and decisions made. In addition, the game data and the automated assessment function of the system also provide convenience for teachers in tracking students’ progress and evaluating learning outcomes.
Since its launch in January 2022, Virtual Hospital has benefited over 450 nursing students. With Virtual Hospital, students are provided with a cooperative case-based learning opportunity. Supplemented with current practice on patient simulators, it is hoped that Virtual Hospital can further help students master the skills necessary for clinical nursing and most importantly for reducing errors in actual clinical situations.
The team is pleased that the virtual learning system has received positive feedback from students, and looks forward to incorporating interprofessional and interdisciplinary elements in the future, as well as introducing the system to other nursing institutions in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area.
A Year-3 student from PolyU School of Nursing noted that she was impressed by the fidelity of the Virtual Hospital in terms of the environmental details. The VR learning experience strengthened her confidence in clinical practice as the system allowed every student to deal with nursing problems on their own, which helps them better prepare for the stressful work situation faced by nurses in the real clinical environment, she said.
The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), the Department of Science and Technology Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have begun testing satellite internet service in two rural banks in Batangas province.
“PhilSA and DOST-ASTI will process data to look at the network performance against the actual connectivity needs of the banks. Information from these reports will be utilised by BSP as we move this partnership forward,” says Ma. Victoria Gazmin-Basto, Officer-in-Charge, PhilSA Space Business Development Division.
The stated banks were previously recognised by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as being in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs), where the installation of new terrestrial networks to improve connectivity may be impractical.
The provision of technical assistance to BSP is consistent with PhilSA’s mandate of assisting other government agencies or departments, as well as the private sector, in carrying out their responsibilities using space science and technology applications and satellite data.
To collect data, a Weather and Performance Monitoring System (WPMS) equipment built by DOST-ASTI was placed up near the two banks. The WPMS includes a network performance monitoring device that is linked to the satellite internet user equipment installed at the banks.
Among other things, the device measures network metrics such as upload and download speeds, throughput, latency, and jitter. Furthermore, the WPMS includes weather stations that monitor meteorological parameters such as rain, temperature, humidity, and pressure at the same time. The obtained data will subsequently be analysed to investigate and evaluate the satellite internet service’s performance and reliability under local weather conditions.
According to Bryan Paler, Senior Science Research Specialist at DOST-ASTI, his agency encourages collaboration with PhilSA and BSP to demonstrate ASTI’s locally developed technologies in applications that benefit the Filipino people.
Aside from the WPMS, they are investigating how they may put other homegrown technologies to use, such as bridging the digital divide and promoting financial inclusion. DOST-ASTI intends to capitalise on the partnership’s benefits in the future by educating people about financial literacy.
The organisations intend to use the digital TV technology and internet infrastructure that they are constructing to teach people in the unserved and underserved areas about financial literacy in addition to doing research on the usefulness and efficiency of satellite internet services for banks. The Philippine government aims to provide rural areas with cutting-edge technology while also teaching residents how to use it for their own benefit. Out of the country’s 1,634 municipalities, 33% or 533, are still unbanked and do not have access to financial inclusion services.
The Philippines believes in satellite technology’s ability to improve connectivity in rural areas, hence increasing banks’ capacity to deliver digital financial services and encourage greater financial inclusion in unserved and underserved areas. Digital financial services such as remittances, bill payments, and opening transaction accounts, among others, would become more inclusive and accessible with improved connections in rural areas.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between PhilSA, DOST-ASTI, and BSP to encourage access to high-quality financial services enabled by internet connectivity. As transactions and services move to online platforms, this endeavour will increase digital inclusion.
Internet connectivity is recognised as a crucial enabler of financial and economic inclusion, as financial activities and services migrate to online platforms. As internet connection is increased, banks and other financial service providers will be able to better serve rural areas with additional internet-connected access points, such as automated teller machines and cash agent services.
The National e-Governance Division (NeGD), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently organised the first batch of a capacity-building programme for cloud computing. The initiative targets government officials from central line ministries, state/union territory departments, mission mode project officers, e-governance project heads, and state e-mission teams.
According to a press release, the two-day programme was held at the Haryana Institute of Public Administration. The initiative was designed to enhance capabilities within the government at the central and state levels by ensuring the availability of adequate knowledge and appropriate competencies and skill sets to optimally utilise the benefits of cloud computing in e-governance practices.
Projects with cloud computing offer integration management with automated problem resolution. The technology manages security end-to-end and helps budget based on actual usage of data. At a national level, cloud architectures enable the government to simultaneously utilise resources optimally and accelerate the delivery of e-services. Project Meghraj, for instance, is a government initiative that fast-tracks the delivery of e-services in the country and optimises the information and communications technology (ICT) spending of the government.
The workshop brought together experts from the industry, academia, and government to discuss key domain issues such as cloud fundamentals, India’s cloud journey, cloud building blocks, the procurement of cloud services, and regulatory and policy framework for cloud. Participants talked about challenges associated with cloud implementation and the future of cloud in digital transformation while using engaging presentations on successful cloud use cases.
Session discussions also featured essential training on various components of cloud computing such as custom bidding for cloud services and the establishment of pay-per-use and billing frequency with cloud service providers. Participants explored negotiation instruments for dynamic services under cloud, best practices in cloud procurement, and computing requirements. They also covered guidelines on cloud computing from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and MeitY as well as ITU global standards on cloud computing.
At the event, a NeGD official stated that technology has been leapfrogging over the past two decades, including cloud-based systems, which now drive businesses and touch every aspect of life. Anything that is available via the Internet is being delivered out of a cloud-based application and IT Infrastructure. Within this decade, cloud computing could replace the traditional data centres and emerge as the prominent solution for data analytics and storage, an industry expert noted.
The event was attended by officers from central line ministries and the state governments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Goa, Mizoram, and Uttarakhand. Capacity-building programmes with the theme of cloud computing will move forward with physical programmes, which will be conducted in the east, west, and south zones of India this year, the press release added.
The large-scale adoption of cloud has the potential to contribute US$ 380 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), creating 14 million direct and indirect jobs by 2026, according to a report by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM). It stated that a concerted all-around effort could result in the sustained growth of 25%-30% of cloud spending in the next five years to reach US$ 18.5 billion.
A Hong Kong homegrown start-up specialising in diagnostics technologies applicable for wide-range of infectious respiratory diseases, recently announced a strategic partnership with a China-based firm that specialises in the high-tech space biological industry coinciding with the Grand Opening of its manufacturing site at the MARS Centre (Medical Accessory Resilience Supplies Manufacturing Centre), which is established by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) in Tai Po INNOPARK.
Supported by the partnership, the world’s most comprehensive diagnostic system developed by the firm (the system) will begin official clinical trials and product registration in Mainland China. Aimed at addressing the world’s most pressing medical needs, the system is a powerful solution for infectious disease control which can detect more than 40 pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2 and Monkeypox, with a single test in around an hour – a breakthrough in diagnostics innovation.
Underpinning the demand for effective and comprehensive detection systems for emerging viruses and bacteria is the COVID-19 pandemic; both firms regard diagnostic technologies as a powerful tool against infectious diseases. The second firm will provide financial support while backing the clinical trial with its expertise and extensive network in China, enabling the commercialisation success of the system soon.
The system significantly enhances the reliability of test results while substantially saving costs, making it easier for wide adoption in the market. The platform technologies can be applied across multiple areas, from infectious diseases, cancer, and genomics, to food safety and environmental testing, and more.
The Co-Founder and Chairman of the firm that developed the system stated that transforming successful research deliverables into a qualified medical product is never easy. The partnership with the biotech firm will solidify the foundation of the system’s commercialisation journey and represent an important milestone for the company.
Meanwhile, the Deputy General Manager of the biotech firm stated that the start-up has made an important breakthrough in diagnostic technology. The biotech firm is excited to commercialise the system on the mainland.
The start-up is concurrently celebrating the launch of its reagent manufacturing site in Tai Po INNOPARK. Together with the device production site which recently obtained ISO 13485 accreditation, the start-up now has the necessary manufacturing capabilities to support the upcoming clinical trials.
The Chairman of HKSTP noted that the Park has repositioned the three industrial estates in Tai Po, Yuen Long and Tseung Kwan O as INNOPARKs. The MARS Centre launched in 2021 and innofacturers have gradually moved in this year. HKSTP is delighted to witness the start-up’s grand opening at MARS, as the first batch of tech ventures to use the ISO-certified cleanroom facility for the production of reagents and micro-fluidic cartridges, and its collaboration with Shenzhou Space Biotechnology Group to further achieve the vision of innovated, designed and made in Hong Kong.
The Chairman noted that HKSTP will continue to incubate more advanced tech ventures to contribute to Hong Kong’s sustainable development and economic growth by Innofacturing.
With the support of the Public Sector Trial Scheme under the Innovation and Technology Fund, the start-up’s system has been under stringent evaluation since 2020 through Professor Yuen and other medical facilities. The firm’s team expects successful clinical trials with the high-quality performance exhibited by the system.
Originated by the Emerging Viral Diagnostic Limited and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University with the support from The University of Hong Kong, the start-up’s system is now translated into a medical technology breakthrough. The collaboration has demonstrated a concerted effort in multidisciplinary innovation and research translation, pushing forward the industrialisation of advanced biotechnology in the Greater Bay Area.
The government has approved a national programme for smart rural development. The programme will focus on building new, modern rural areas through digital transformation. It is expected to boost the rural economy, improve rural living standards, and bridge the gap in service quality between rural and urban areas.
The initiative will be implemented in all rural areas across Vietnam by the end of 2025, including extremely disadvantaged communes in ethnic minorities and mountainous and coastal regions. By 2025, the government aims to have at least 90% of central, 80% of district-level, and 60% of communal public documents handled online. And at least 97% of communes should meet the new-style rural criteria on information and telecommunications.
Further, to boost the rural economy, the plan will promote the digital economy. Accordingly, at least 70% of communes will have cooperatives and 70% of districts will have agricultural business models, which will connect the production and distribution of key farming products using digital technology.
Additionally, at least 40% of communes and districts should be able to provide at least one essential public service in healthcare, education, community surveillance, security, environment, and culture. They must collect feedback on people’s satisfaction regarding rural development on a virtual platform. All centrally-run cities and provinces should have at least one trial smart rural commune model in the field, which holds advantages of, for example, economy, rural tourism, environment, and culture. The models will serve as a reference for the development of a new set of criteria for new-style rural building plans for the 2026-2030 period.
The government is also pushing for the digital transformation of urban parts of the country under its smart city initiatives. The overall goal is to accelerate digitisation in urban governance by building an electronic government including features such as digitised transport, energy, and society.
In January, Politburo issued a resolution on the planning, management, and sustainable development of Vietnam’s urban areas by 2030 with a vision until 2045. It is well established that smart cities can be effectively and successfully developed when digital transformation is comprehensively deployed across all areas of a city. Sustainable cities are built on a foundation of robust urban management that employs a host of digital and tech solutions. Simultaneously, both government employees and citizens need to be upskilled and trained.
As OpenGov Asia reported, Vietnam’s digital transformation is based on three pillars: digital governance, digital economy, and digital society, with an average point of 0.3 on a 1.0 grading scale. From a focus perspective, digital government is ranked higher point than both the digital economy and digital society primarily because of the e-government development process. As of June, a total of 59 out of the 63 localities in the country launched programmes on digital transformation, which will be rolled out over the next five years.
Vietnam is in the early stages of applying smart city services. There is still much more to be added in terms of smart urban planning and smart urban construction management. Smart city projects must have a comprehensive approach with the goal of not only solving urgent problems of cities but also striving for long-term socio-economic development.