MIT Announces Innovation Node In Hong Kong

MIT is set to launch an innovation node in Hong Kong next summer to develop new enterprises in the region.

AsianScientist (Nov. 19, 2015) – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced the launch of an ‘Innovation Node’ in Hong Kong, a collaborative space that aims to connect the MIT community with unique resources—including advanced manufacturing capabilities—and other opportunities in Hong Kong and the neighboring Pearl River Delta (PRD).

Set to launch next summer, the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node will convene MIT students, faculty, and researchers to work on various entrepreneurial and research projects alongside Hong Kong-based students and faculty, MIT alumni, entrepreneurs, and businesses. By combining resources and talent, the Innovation Node aims to help students learn how to move ideas more rapidly from the lab to the market.

Other new activities enabled through the Innovation Node will include: increased opportunities for MIT students to conduct research in collaboration with Hong Kong universities; events focused on innovation and entrepreneurship; internships at companies in the region; and the formation of a makerspace and startup programs for student entrepreneurs.

The Innovation Node, conceived and run by the MIT Innovation Initiative, is expected to launch with an initial cohort of MIT students traveling to Hong Kong in July to work on various projects and participate in workshops with local students. A search is under way for a Hong Kong-based executive director. Initial funding for the node has been provided by Hong Kong-based MIT alumni and other friends of the Institute.

The node will be advised in Hong Kong by a local group of MIT alumni that will help coordinate programs for current MIT students, alumni, and the local community.

In addition to the presence of strong research universities, a major reason why MIT chose to establish an Innovation Node in Hong Kong is because it provides ready access to a unique manufacturing infrastructure that encourages rapid prototyping and scale-up, Sodini says.

About an hour’s commute from Hong Kong’s Central District lies Shenzhen, a city home to many scientists and engineers—and fast, low-volume manufacturing.

“Manufacturers in Shenzhen have mastered the ability to take a prototype device to unit quantities of hundreds overnight,” Sodini says. “This unparalleled speed of small quantity manufacturing is unique to Shenzhen.”

MIT students will learn hands-on lessons in designing and manufacturing for commercialization, Sodini says: “Giving our students access and experience with this capability educates them in how to move more quickly from idea to product.”

Through the node, students will also be linked to opportunities along the Greater Pearl River Delta, a network of roughly a dozen major cities in southern China—including Hong Kong and Shenzhen—that serve as innovation hubs and economic drivers for the country.

Many MIT-based startups, in fact, already travel to Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region to prototype and produce devices, MIT Provost Martin Schmidt says.

“Having a connection to this region will strengthen this access, and will open opportunities to develop new enterprises in the region,” Schmidt says.

In the future, organizers also plan to create in the Hong Kong node what is known as a “makerspace”: a facility equipped with advanced tools and materials for invention and prototyping. MIT is currently in the process of building a new makerspace on its Cambridge campus that will be linked to the node’s proposed makerspace. The spaces will be equipped with similar tools and offer the same training.

The idea is to facilitate a way for MIT and Hong Kong students to collaborate physically or virtually—through advanced telecommunication services—to drive ideas toward commercialization. For instance, medical devices, sensors, or robotics could be prototyped on the MIT campus or at the node, tested in the Boston or Hong Kong regions, and have small quantities manufactured in Shenzhen.


Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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