HKU aims to foster entrepreneurship with innovation such as iDendron, a new co-working space for students and young alumni looking to develop ideas for start-ups.

The growing spotlight on achieving impact through academic activities has inspired the University to encourage knowledge exchange (KE) activities. Platforms and partnerships are being formed, and a culture of entrepreneurship is being promoted among staff, students and alumni. The focus is on supporting technological innovation, as well as applying research to inform public policy, improve health and education, and other outcomes that benefit society. These activities continued to snowball in 2016–17.

Support for Impact

The essential goal of KE is to have impact on society and the Knowledge Exchange Office has been preparing staff for several years to absorb that goal. Workshops have been organised with expert advice and case studies, including six workshops in 2016–17 on such topics as how to develop impact case studies and the impact of legal research.

Since impact considerations require additional time and effort, the University has also revised its performance review policy for professoriate staff to provide incentive and recognition for impact and KE (such as commercialisation, industry partnerships, contract research, influence on public policy, etc), alongside teaching, research and service / administration.

Two-way Street

Knowledge exchange with the community can work in both directions. A recent example was the ‘Rising Above’ exhibition of historical African American art and documents, which made its first appearance outside the US at HKU through a collaboration between the Faculty of Arts, University Museum and Art Gallery, KBK Enterprises, Inc and the Bernard and Shirley Kinsey Foundation for Arts and Education. The exhibition (whose opening ceremony is pictured above) ran from December 2016 to February 2017 and included public talks by expert scholars from the US, musical performances, workshops, guided visits and classes held in the museum, training for students in the American Studies programme and a publication inspired by the artefacts.

Promoting Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship represents the business side of innovation and KE. In order for it to take hold, a change of culture is needed that embraces the risk inherent in starting up new companies and promoting new ideas. HKU has been developing such a culture in recent years and in 2017 unveiled a new physical hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, named iDendron after the Greek word dendron for tree, which implies extending roots and branches and, through innovation and KE, supporting many forms of life. Students and young alumni have access to a co-working space here to develop their ideas, and activities are organised to help develop entrepreneurial capacity and networks, such as pitching sessions, training sessions and meetings with start-up founders.

iDendron provides the physical platform to organise HKU’s major innovation events such as DreamCatchers, which was launched in 2015 to support the University’s entrepreneurial community. DreamCatchers runs an annual competition that awards $100,000 to the 10 best start-up ideas. iDendron will also provide support in future for the DreamCatchers MedTech Hackathon Hong Kong event, which HKU organises with Stanford University, and the annual Entrepreneurship Academy, a 10-week skill-building programme organised with the Faculty of Business and Economics. Separately, in June 2017 the University also promoted entrepreneurship by co-organising the Global Youth Entrepreneurship Forum that attracted about 1,000 participants. More partnership events in innovation are expected.

HKU also encourages undergraduates and postgraduates to join entrepreneurship competitions in Hong Kong and overseas. At the Hong Kong Regional Final of the ‘Challenge Cup’, a national innovation and entrepreneurship competition for university students, HKU students won five of the 10 top awards and received the Outstanding Participant Award. At the Cyberport University Partnership Programme, in which 20 teams from local universities pitched ideas on FinTech, four of the 10 winning teams came from HKU. HKU undergraduates also came first in a global competition organised by Airbus.




funded by TSSSU@HKU since 2014, including 9 funded in 2016–17.



at the 2017 Global Youth

Entrepreneurs Forum.



supported by the Impact Project Funding Scheme in 2016–17.

Three of the 10 winning teams in the 2017 DreamCatchers’ 100K Seed Fund Competition.

Invested in Ideas

Academics and students can tap into two funding schemes to develop their research and ideas into impact. The University’s Impact Project Funding Scheme supports stakeholder engagement activities and the collection of evidence to show impact from research, and in 2016–17 supported 51 projects. The government-funded TSSSU@HKU (which stands for Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities at HKU) awarded a total of $54 million to nine new start-ups in 2016–17, including seven that are commercialising HKU technologies. And the University began formally recognising impact and KE activities in its performance review and development process in 2016–17 (see Research and Innovation).

Impact is also evident in the level of technology transfer at HKU, which has been intensifying. In 2016–17, 144 patents were filed and 64 granted. The Technology Transfer Office (TTO) and HKU’s commercial arm Versitech provide a full range of support for patenting and licensing research and finding partners. A new full-time professional director was appointed to head the TTO in January 2017 and new managers will be appointed to strengthen intellectual property management. New partnerships have also been formed or strengthened with Cyberport, TCL Corporation Ltd and Hong Kong Science and Technology Park that provide direct support for developing research and translating it into impact (see details in Research and Innovation).