Date
24 March 2017
Martin Schmidt (left) and Charles Sodini say the MIT Innovation Node will help students in Hong Kong gain an understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship. Photo: HKEJ
Martin Schmidt (left) and Charles Sodini say the MIT Innovation Node will help students in Hong Kong gain an understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship. Photo: HKEJ

MIT launches Innovation Node in Hong Kong

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has launched the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node, with a hardware accelerator program designed to educate students in key areas of innovation practice.

“Students working in the node will not be typecast as engineers, businesspeople, manufacturers or designers,” Charles Sodini, the center’s faculty director, said at a press briefing Tuesday. 

“Rather, they will be engaged in all these aspects of an integrative education, guided by the principle of learning by doing.”

Martin Schmidt, MIT’s provost, said, “The launch of the Innovation Node marks the beginning of MIT’s commitment to building a long-term presence in Hong Kong.”

The node will serve as an important gateway for MIT in the Pearl River Delta region and continues MIT’s efforts to build a global classroom for its students, Schmidt said.

Hong Kong is the best place for the node, as it has top universities, a strong financial and legal system and is close to the PRD region, which is a world-class manufacturing base, he said.

Schmidt said he is impressed by the entrepreneurial climate in Hong Kong, which enjoys good prospects in innovation technology.

The node in Hong Kong is sponsored by MIT alumni.

MIT already has three overseas innovation centers in Chile, Japan and Singapore.

The node’s first Hong Kong program, MIT Kickstart, a one-week entrepreneurship training program, began on Sunday.

In the program, 24 students, half from Hong Kong and half from MIT, will form teams, refine an idea, build a prototype, learn from industry experts and explore the thriving startup scene in Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

The program will culminate with a final showcase where students will present their work and demo their prototype.

It aims to create a “makerspace” – a lab that provides technical support with innovative equipment – to enable students to transform their idea into real products, Sodini said.

The next MIT Kickstart program is scheduled for January next year, he said.

On Tuesday, the MIT Technology Review kicked off EmTech Hong Kong, a two-day global conference on emerging technologies

Wong Ming-yam, chairman of the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute, which is co-hosting the conference, said Hong Kong should boost its investment in research and development in the upcoming 5G communications environment.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, who is an alumnus of MIT, said Hong Kong has an advantage in developing innovation technology, as it is close to mainland China.

Chloe Chow contributed to this article.

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