New applied R&D centres north of the border

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The University has extended its research platform to the Pearl River Delta. Following the establishment of our biotechnology and health-related studies base in the Shenzhen Virtual University Park (SVUP) (Bulletin No.23, e-link: Shenzhen VirtualU), another IT-focused research base will be set up in the Southern Software Park in Zhuhai. Both centres are operational.

Projects for incubation

The University's initial call for potential projects to be incubated on the mainland resulted in more than 20 proposals. The Working Group on Applied R&D, chaired by Associate Vice-President (Research), Professor W F Fong , selected 10 projects for funding on the grounds of academic merit, and potential for commercialization and penetration of the mainland market. Of these proposals, four were picked for incubation at two research centres in the SVUP, and the remaining six, which focus on IT, were chosen for the Zhuhai centre.

The two centres in the SVUP, the Biotech & Health Centre and the Industrial Technologies Centre, are headed by Professor Fong and Dr Albert Cheung , Head of the Faculty Laboratory Centre, respectively. The IT centre in Zhuhai has as its Director Professor Hong Yan , Chair Professor of Computer Engineering and Associate Head of the Department of Computer Engineering and Information Technology. A representative office in the SVUP, headed by Mr H Y Wong, Director of the Industrial and Business Development Office (IBDO), and managed by a mainland officer, will serve as the liaison centre for CityU's teaching, research and promotion activities in China.

A visit to SVUP

The pace of change at the Shenzhen High-Tech Industrial Park, the site of the SVUP, impressed a delegation of 40 CityU staff members who visited the park in October. Professor Y S Wong , Vice-President (Institutional Advancement), who led the visit, said, "These industrial complexes were construction sites only a few months ago. The pace of progress at Shenzhen could be an impetus for innovation and hard work for people in Hong Kong."

The delegation was organized to keep colleagues abreast of the progress of work at the SVUP and to familiarize them with the research environment in the Park. CityU has earmarked HK$50 million for business incubation and applied research development in China. Projects selected, though funded initially by the University, are expected to eventually become self-financing. IBDO will invite the second round of proposals for cross-border research projects in December 2001.

The visit included a trip to the University's representative office in the SVUP and to IRIS Systems (Shenzhen) Ltd, a CityU associated company. Headed by Dr Ma Jian, Associate Professor in the Department of Information Systems, IRIS Systems was established with sponsorship from the State Natural Science Foundation of China to develop the Internet-based Science Information System (ISIS) project, which facilitates online submission, evaluation and management of research projects, as well as dissemination of project results. The IRIS system for managing research grant applications at CityU and the Internet-based Technology Information System (ITIS) system adopted by Hong Kong's Innovation and Technology Commission were also developed by Dr Ma. The company, which currently employs eight staff members from Shenzhen, will embark on further expansion as the ISIS project proceeds.

"The University will continue to explore new footholds in the area across the border as opportunities arise", Mr Wong said. "Lower running costs, better access to a larger pool of research talent and proximity to the China market are some of the many advantages of having a mainland research office."




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