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Bridging Business World and Social Enterprise Simon Ngai Dives into the Blue Ocean to Bring Life Changing Services for Grassroots

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Where there is a beginning, there is an end. What makes life perfect? CUHK alumnus Simon Ngai is a businessman and founder of a number of social enterprises. He puts his business experiences to serve young discharged prisoners, delinquent youths and the grassroots by operating an array of social enterprises such as garage, hair salon and Christian funeral parlour. Yet Simon humbly claims that all things are in “Him”.

Being in the business and social welfare worlds for over three decades provides Simon illuminations of the infinite potential in people, and motivation to navigate between the best and worst in life. “People are the most important assets. Without people you can’t do anything. We need to get the right people to walk the talk.”

Ebullient and eloquent, the former president of the Federation of Alumni Associations of CUHK juggles a number of key posts including director of CUHK Alumni Charity Foundation, chairperson of Fullness Christian Vocational Training Centre (FCVTC), chairperson of Glory Return Foundation (GRF) and director of Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprise (GCSE). Simon also likes to make friends, and is generous in sharing these networks to match business operations with social welfare organisations to actively take part in social services and even establish strategic partnerships for betterment of the society.

Sower of social enterprise — CUHK

Simon candidly shares his frolicsome, adventurous childhood. “I attended Holy Word Primary School at Ngau Tau Kok Lower Estate, and then Ng Wah Catholic Secondary School. It was great fun going to a boys’ school where we played soccer, basketball and chess all day long.” Despite not taking Additional Mathematics (A-Maths) in senior forms, Simon was first admitted to the Department of Mathematics at CUHK with 1A1B at the Hong Kong A-Level Examination (HKALE). He then transferred to the Faculty of Business Administration and majored in Marketing.

(Left) Simon was very involved in hall life at CUHK. “I just love to play. I was a boarder of Ying Lin Tang. Everyone at Ying Lin Tang rollicked through their university life.” (Right) The red blazers of Ying Lin Tang boarders are vivid portraits of youthful fervour. Simon and his friends formed and ran the Rotaract Club of Chung Chi College. They were palsy-walsy with each other in-and-out.(Photo: provided by interviewee)

“I become a Christian when I was a sophomore. I began to see the good in people — business students are not philistines. Businessmen can be influential and serviceable. They can do good too. By chance my classmates and I established the Rotaract Club of Chung Chi College. Business students can do all right for social service. Perhaps this was the seed of social enterprise in me.”

Fullness at the crossroads

Those were the days — after graduation Simon joined an investment company and was soon promoted to Assistant General Manager, setting up joint ventures in mainland China and acquiring enterprises in Germany and USA.(Photo: provided by interviewee)

Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in Marketing from CUHK, Simon excelled in furniture sales and marketing and got promoted to a senior position within 5 years. Yet his career advancement then seemed to stagnate and he wanted to look for other opportunities. “By chance I got to see the TV interview of Charles Yeung, a billionaire in his thirties also known as ‘King of Jeans’. I was utterly impressed by his success story from being a refugee and garment factory worker to the head of a multinational enterprise.” Simon, at the age of 27, boldly wrote to Yeung and got hired. Some time later Simon decided to set up his own business. He returned to where he started and founded Wing Kai Steel Furniture & Engineering Company, which had since been in operation till today.

FCVTC provides on the job training to discharged youth prisoners, ex-drug abusers and delinquent youths to equip them with skillsets particularly in repairing motor vehicles and hair styling.(Photo: provided by interviewee)

From furniture business Simon got to know the Superintendent of Holland Hostel, who was also director of FCVTC and was looking for someone to help with his workload at FCVTC. Simon joined FCVTC in 2000 and became a member of the board of directors in 2002. He was appointed chairperson of the board from 2006 till now.

“Business experiences can play significant roles in the social welfare sector. It is very exciting to see people in both circles complement each other. This is my blue ocean! When social workers hesitate to make business decisions, my suggestions oil the wheels. For instance the hair salon had been in the red and was closed down. In view of mixed opinions among the board of directors, I convinced the board with data analysis and lined up collaboration opportunities with Youth Outreach. Everything became ready. I think that people are the most important assets. Without people you can’t do anything. We need to get the right people to walk the talk.” Books were balanced within the year that the hair salon reopened. It was the project that was launched and became profitable within the shortest period. “We were delighted with the outcome, and I was elected as and am still chairperson.”

Government and industry input for social enterprise

“The government began driving the set-up and operation of social enterprises in 2006. Experiences in business operation was much sought after to leverage the impact of social enterprises. Many businessmen hence jumped on the wagon. Operation aside, we need to consider further the development, research and advocacy of social enterprise. That’s why we established Fullness Social Enterprises Society (FSES) .”

“A lot of people in the business world thinks the market of social enterprises is ‘unexpandable’. Yet how can the market expand if no one takes part? A social enterprise is a real business operation with the goal of creating social social impact. As more and more people understand the nature of social enterprise, I hope to amass more support to expand the market.”

Simon promptly got fellow CUHK alumni, Federation of Hong Kong Industries (FHKI) and Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong (CMA) together to organise the first Hong Kong Social Enterprise Autumn Trade Fair. “The trade fairs of importers and exporters in China used to be called ‘spring trade fair’ or ‘autumn trade fair because they were usually held in these two seasons. I wish to get members of FHKI and CMA to visit the booths of different social enterprises and facilitate B2B collaboration.”

“Whereas the kind of ‘conscious consumption’ promoted by social enterprises is limited to B2C. With more collaboration between the business and social service circles, and greater understanding of social enterprises, the government will see the importance of social enterprises and heighten recognition to social enterprises by members of the public.”

“At the same time, business corporations are expected to partner with social enterprises to enhance their ESG (environment, social & governance) investing practices to create social impact. There are lots of opportunities to do better and do more!”

Baby steps in funeral service

At the 20th anniversary of FCVTC, the discussion between directors on launching funeral service met much opposition. “Some directors were wary that funeral service is difficult, and not matching the organisation’s goal to help youths. I was indignant that as chairperson I was not even able to push a small project. Despite the frustration, I hire people to set up ‘GloryReturn’ myself.”

GloryReturn was registered as a non-profit organisation in 2023. It endeavours in Christian funeral services for low-income families and promote life and death education. Up to today, Glory Return has served over 1100 families, most of whom are receiving CSSA or having a low income. (Photo : ORKTS)

Simon points out that one will not know how to handle a funeral if one has not experienced the passing of a family member. The opening of this social enterprise is not for making money, but for providing comfort and spiritual support to the bereaved. “It is particularly hard for the grassroots for losing their loved ones and not making ends meet. Your support to them at this troubled time will mean a lot.”

Chung Kwong Hung, director and registered social worker of Glory Return, explains the details of Christian funeral service. “I got to know Simon at the same church. I have always had an interest in funeral service. Funeral service is a huge business, but outsiders hardly know how a funeral parlour operates.”

“Funeral service is difficult because we do not know how it is run. I was trained as a social worker but there is no courses on funeral service in any of the universities in Hong Kong. We almost started from scratch from sorting out paper work, sourcing coffins, booking hearses and so on. The most important question — how to get people to trust us, a organisation they barely know, to handle this very grave matter?”

Bring comfort in funeral service

Chung Kwong Hung shares a touching story. “We serve not only the aged, but also stillbirth and young children. A 10-year-girl with intellectual and physical disabilities passed away. She was raised single-handedly by her mother. On the way to the crematorium on the hearse, her mother said facing the coffin, ‘Sorry for not being a good mother. I did not take care of you good enough.’ I explained to her how precious her commitment had been. These are all the poignant but heart-warming episodes in the service.”

Chung Kwong Hung is on the frontline of the funeral service to comfort bereaved families with love and faith. (Photo : ORKTS)

GloryReturn is building up its reputation and trust from target customers through the connections established through the service. “We do not only serve. Through the funeral service we become friends with customers. Mutual trust is needed to walk on this very important though reluctant journey. We will press on — this is a very meaningful job.”
“My mother passed away when I was young. The loss of a loved one still hits me and I feel the pain of the bereaved. The rites in a funeral can be therapeutic. We hope to bring positive impressions through funeral service so that bereaved families can mourn in ways that they are comfortable with, and get to know the Christian faith to relieve their sorrow.”
The social enterprise does not have much manpower. There are only two full-time staff. Yet with the determination to serve the grassroots and propitious progress, the business has grown from one case to twenty cases a month. “Apart from Christian funeral service, we also provide areligious services. We discuss in detail with families the kind and style of funeral service they wish to have, and work that out as far as possible.”
The service rate of GloryReturn is fixed on the economic status of the client families. Those receiving CSSA will pay a few thousand less than the market rate. “As a social enterprise, besides necessary expenditures such as staff salary, we operate in the form of a charitable foundation and provide concessions to families with economic constraints. We sometimes receive donations from people who appreciate our work. The money will be put into good use to serve others.”
At the same time GloryReturn offers life and death education. They often share about funeral service and life issues at elderly centres, youth centres and church youth fellowships. Simon explains, “A lot of people are curious about what people in funeral services do. Some think these are just menial work. The Japanese film ‘Departures’ captures the serene ambience in a well-conducted funeral service. For beneficiaries, we do not only offer ceremonial services but also spiritual support and counselling.”

Life and death for Christians

Simon goes on sentimentally, “My father passed away suddenly at the age of 64, same age as I now. So I live longer than him. My family was totally unprepared. I was in a meeting when my mother called, ‘Your dad cannot hold any longer. Come quickly!’ Yet he has passed away when I arrived at the hospital. Life is unpredictable. Your life span is up to God, not you.”
“I love to read the bible, especially the book of Ecclesiastes. Everyone of us has a mission in life to look for, receive and carry it out. Happiness comes from not being envious of others. Mission changes too. As you seek and try, you will be happy too. The book tells that wise man and fool will have to face the same fate of death. Some say that everything is gone after death. This is not true. There are still things left behind. You have to be responsible for all you do now. God will judge at the end.”

The elderly, especially those are are pessimistic, often have a soft spot for Simon. “I will tell them, just think of all things you have gone through. Do not always complain that God is hard on you. There must have been something good. Whenever those happy episodes come to mind, they will talk incessantly and become much happier. And I’ll say, ‘See? God is good.’ There are shiny and rainy days and both can be fun!”(Photo : ORKTS)

Post-pandemic plans: social and technological innovation

What support does social enterprise in Hong Kong need? “Business support is instrumental in getting more people involved and greater understanding to enlarge the market of social enterprise. At the same time there will not be much room to grow if social enterprise only focus on social innovation. Social plus technological innovation is a great combination. It can be as easy as online marketing of products of social enterprises. The government is supportive of social enterprise as it may in the long run lower social welfare expenditure and provide solutions to various social issues. The impact is huge if the model is sustainable.”
Simon has new ideas recently, “The outburst of COVID-19 and infections among nursing homes restrain many elderly people from visiting doctors. Telemedicine can be a way out. A few CUHK alumni and I are developing a telemedicine platform with online booking system to get into Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks.”

Friendships with CUHK

Handmade greeting cards for Simon from mentees. (Photo: provided by interviewee)

Navigating in both business and social welfare worlds, Simon is extremely well-connected both inside and outside CUHK for his valuable and generous personality. He has taken part in CUHK Mentorship Programme for 12 years and become good friends with over 20 young graduates. “This is a great opportunity for me to learn about what young people think and need, and make me younger too! I feel that in a way I’m growing with them, and even get to see them getting married and having kids, or being promoted to senior executive positions. I am happy to keep in touch with them. CUHK alumni should definitely care more about the students and offer guidance and support.”

Simon and his mentee. (Photo: provided by interviewee)

“CUHK has an enormous campus and good learning atmosphere. CUHKers are in general more tender-hearted and down-to-earth with strong humanistic spirit and less comparison with each other. I became a Christian at CUHK. I got my degree as well as lots of good friends here. My daughter also studied at CUHK and was a member of Chung Chi College like me. I am very proud of being a two-generational CUHK family.”
Lastly Simon shares his favourite bible verse. “Romans 8:28-29: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ God can accomplish everything, but He will invite you to work together to benefit others and the society. God helps those who help themselves. If you want others to help you, you have to first pick up yourself. Help never comes by waiting. Begin with yourself and influence others. Others will come to your assistance naturally.”
There is beauty in all forms of completions of life. Life often goes too swift for us to catch. If we keep that goodness in ourselves in seeking the meaning of life, we will see the preciousness in changes in life and perfection in the circle of life.

Scholarly Tip

Simon recommends the book “How To Win Friends and Influence People” to everyone, “When I was young, I thought the cover of this book was scary, but the content is great! The first edition has an all-black background, with a skull in the middle, and two people can be vaguely seen both sides. This book has been a bestseller since it was published in 1936. The English version clearly mentions “how to influence people” at the beginning, which is very suitable for young people to read and understand interpersonal relationships and the way of survival.”

Additional Information

Original text in Chinese:Alice Fong @ORKTS

English translation:Miriam Lee

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Click Into VR Place — PC game enthusiast Morris Jong stays ahead of the game in educational VR and Outdoor Museum

Prof Jong Siu-yung Morris is the Director of Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, CUHK. Donnish and well-dressed, it’s hard to imagine him being a PC game whizz.

“I was myopic as a kid and now I need -9.00 glasses to see! I was a fervent gamer when I was young, first with arcade games then PC games.” Morris is buoyed up by the mentioning of gaming, and talks incessantly on how gaming and learning complement each other.

To beat himself at his own game, academically

Most of us consider gaming inimical. Yet interestingly, all of Morris’s gaming buddies were the cream of the crop in their class, and he himself was one of the top dozen. From gaming Morris masters the skills of agility and multi-tasking. Whether at school or at work, he excels in time management. As a student he took advantage of lunch breaks — he would go to entertainment game centres right after a quick meal at home. Had his family ever stopped him from visiting those centres? Morris chuckles, “They never knew. I only stayed at the game arcade for about an hour after school, then I went home to finish my homework.” As long as you don’t get addicted and strike your balance between work and play, playing PC games helps to de-stress amidst hectic schoolwork.

Why did Morris the game maniac not become an eSports player? Pursuing an interest-driven career path, Morris morphs from a gamer to an educationist.

Morris’s first degree was in electronic engineering, from where he also learnt about computer science and became interested in it. He hence pursued a part-time master’s degree in computer science and information technology at the University of Hong Kong, at the same time taught information technology to teachers-to-be at the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd, now known as EdUHK) as a full-time lecturer.

Morris outmanoeuvres the “game levels” in his pursuit of life goals with the guidance of two revered mentors. While he was unsure of what go after during his master’s, he met two mentors of a lifetime from CUHK — now retired Prof Lee Fong Lok, and Prof Lee Man Ho of Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “I am much obliged for their counselling and fostering.” He is grateful for the opportunities they gave him to study PhD in Education at CUHK while teaching at HKIEd. His research was on the integration of gaming into learning.

(From left) Prof Lee Fong Lok and Prof Lee Man Ho are from two different academic departments; Morris (first from right) is grateful for their encouragement to work on an interdisciplinary research on the integration of games and education. (Photo provided by interviewee)

In 2009, with tremendous practical experience and passion, Morris joined the Department of Curriculum and Instruction to further research on learning sciences, learning technologies, and design and implementation of technology-enhanced pedagogies. He was awarded the Best Knowledge Transfer Innovation Award, Young Researcher Award, Research Excellence Award and Faculty Exemplary Teaching Award in 2013, 2017, 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Gaming is learning

“You have to learn the game by yourself — either ask fellow players or watch others play online. You don’t just follow what others tell you to or use the same tricks. You have to explore, observe, analyse, implement and improve the ways to tackle the game, and sometimes share and discuss strategies with friends.” To Morris, gaming fully embraces the attributes of self-directed learning, such as inquiry-based, intentional, experiential, collaborative and reflective properties.

“In pedagogy research and design of teaching materials, we draw on characteristics of games, i.e. gamification.” We are no stranger to gamification. In marketing, for instance, when we go shopping and join “yuu Rewards Club” to earn points and redeem offers, the system will deduce our consumption pattern and push relevant advertisements to us. The crossover of gamification and concepts of teaching and learning surveils big data in the backend to create suitable lesson plans for students.

“Museum is everywhere”

From game to research, Morris notices that despite well-received by students, field trips are often restricted by time, weather, geographical and budgetary limitations. Schools have to hold back on curricular arrangements, such that geography teachers are discouraged to take students to perilous terrains, and life and society classes may not be able to organise group visits to partitioned flats or afford expensive overseas study trips.

According to EDB references, field-based inquiry helps students to integrate knowledge and daily life so that they may experience even more unfeignedly with topics on Chinese culture. Our local community is an ideal arena for learning and is full of learning resources. Traditional craftsmanship supplanted by technology and modernisation, such as flower board crafting and movable type, can be conserved and awareness raised through educational experiences.

Morris leads his team to convert research findings into social impact. They are awarded a grant of around HK$400,000 by CUHK Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (KPF) to facilitate ethnic minority students in Hong Kong to learn about a variety of traditional Chinese objects and stories with the virtual reality learning platform EduVenture® VR, so as to nurture their understanding and interest in Chinese culture without the hassle of going around.

R&D team of EduVenture® VR: (from left) Sherman Liu, Sunny Poon, Morris Jong, Eric Luke, Tom Sze, Jessie Leung. EduVenture® VR provides 360° virtual reality and augmented reality of field-based inquiry materials. It allows students with financial or special needs to experience up-front digitally of what is otherwise difficult to in real-life. (Photo provided by interviewee)

“The concept of Outdoor Museum brings ethnic minority students to experience Hong Kong more and learn more through educational gamification.”

Morris is excited of the students’ enthusiasm to take part in the learning games and respond with multi-media schoolwork.

Students can visit Man Mo Temple and Tian Tan Buddha with tablet computer, cardboard viewer such as Google Cardboard or other head-mounted display.(Photo provided by interviewee)

Fellow interviewer Dorothy reflects that people in Hong Kong in general do not pay much attention to built heritage around. Morris says, “We should take notice of things around us. CUHK itself is a great museum too.”

Sociologist Jean-François Dortier, founder of the magazine Sciences Humaines, considers the human eye not only a pellucid window to the world. Apart from seeing, observation also involves the selection and organisation of information perceived, and interpretation of such according to our mind map.

Humanities education in the digital era, like the use of innovation and technology in archaeology, pins its faith on the application of technology to enrich and diversify learning experiences as well as the implementation of technology in the commingling of culture and creativity.

Knowledge transfer opens up architecture and community imaginations

How to effectively enable students of the School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University to understand different types of built environments and their daily operations? (Photo provided by interviewee)

Over 1500 students at the School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University have benefited from the learner-oriented immersive education making use of EduVenture® VR. Students make virtual visits to construction sites to learn about construction management in a safe manner brought about by VR since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020.

Advancement in architectural sciences prompts students to understand concepts of placemaking. In the course “Social Sustainability and Housing”, students suss out residents in the community, public space, facilities and housing conditions as if they are actually on-site. They are hence able to compare and contrast the cultural and economical background of different district plannings, and understand how the interrelationship of architectural design, planning and cost impact resident well-being.

Gaming and deep learning — the winning formula

What’s Morris’s secret to studying? “Even Andy Lau says ‘the soul of the diligent is richly supplied’. Diligence is paramount, especially in academic pursuit. Whether you are a research student or professor, you cannot produce good research without hard work no matter how brilliant you are.” One needs to upgrade the armoury to sweep the board. The rules of the game apply in real life — one has to keep equipping oneself through study and work to find one’s life goal.

【Scholarly keyword】Deep Learning

Morris recommends the book Deep Learning: Engage the World Change the World

“We as educationists often discuss deep learning.” Learning by rote is obsoleted by “learning to learn”. At the turn of the 21st century educationists emphasised 4 basic learning skills coined “4Cs” but now there are 2 more “C”s to be endowed with.
Morris points out, “World-renowned education reformer Michael Fullan puts forward 6Cs that everyone should learn and possess. They are Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Citizenship, Character and Communication. Students have to build resilience and character. Citizenship kindles respect to the world and all cultures. Being equipped with these 6Cs is the winning formula in all you do.”

Original text in Chinese:Alice Fong@ORKTS
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From Speech Recognition Scholar to Cantonese and Communication Specialist: Tan Lee navigates across research disciplines

“Some people speak without communicating.” Tan Lee is a Professor in the Department of Electronic Engineering at CUHK with over 30 years of research experience in speech technology, including “Speech-to-Text” and “Text-to-Speech” technologies that we use on a daily basis. Au fait with abstruse computerese, Prof Lee is, however, mindful of making himself understood.

List of recipients of Exemplary Teaching Awards from 1998 in the conference room of Ho Sin Hang Engineering Building — check out how many times Prof Tan Lee has been named for the award. (ORKTS)

”Good voice” of CUHK

“Long-serving academic staff are sometimes so absorbed in their own lectures and tend to talk non-stop. I often remind myself not to do so, albeit rather unsuccessfully.” His text message before the interview seemed to imply that it would be a lengthy conversation. It turned out to be a very lively 2-hour chat, during which he shared and explicated his experience as the vice-leader of CUHK Choir as a student, on researches and interdisciplinary and knowledge transfer projects, as well as designing an individualized “phonograph”for a patient with laryngeal cancer recently.

“I’m very conscious of what and how I speak in class, especially in the past decade.” Tan Lee is careful of not only what he says, but also whether students understand. The 12 exemplary teaching awards he has received in the past 20 years — including 9 that were awarded in a row — are testimonies to his repute.

Despite his eloquence in Cantonese romanisation system and International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), trained as an electronic engineer, Tan Lee only began his interest in linguistics 30 years ago during his doctoral studies at CUHK. “My first doctoral research was on Cantonese speech recognition.”

“Human speech is multi-layered that reflects culture, language and social circumstances. For example, the speed and intonation of my speech in the lecture this morning are different from those of my conversation with you now.” Prof Lee enunciates behind the Faculty of Engineering mask the concepts of speech technology for communication. (ORTKS)

From mathematics to Cantonese linguistics

Having spent the majority of his life at Ma Liu Shui where CUHK situates, Tan Lee was admitted to CUHK in 1984 to study mathematics after one-year High Level matriculation, and transferred to electronic engineering in Year 2. “I believe that if you excel in mathematics, you excel in anything. I think highly of mathematicians, such as Prof Conan Leung. He was so brilliant that he studied mathematics with Prof Yau Shing Tung even before he completed his undergraduate degree.” Notwithstanding his love in mathematics, having one less year in high school spelled “disastrous” grades in his first year in university. He persuaded the department head to let him transfer to the more “pragmatic” study of electronic engineering.

“I continued on an MPhil at CUHK and worked as a teaching assistant at CityU (then City Polytechnic) afterwards.” As he pondered whether to study PhD at the end of the work contract, he bumped into Prof Ching Pak Chung and Prof Chan Lai Wan at the train station. He was told of their prospective research project on Cantonese speech recognition. He seized the chance to join their research team, “I hence began my doctoral study at CUHK in 1992.” Tan Lee quotes all names and timings from his commendable memory.

Although much of speech recognition is computer-processed, research in this field cannot do without basic knowledge in linguistics. “I was clueless about Cantonese linguistics, so I sought help from Prof Eric Zee, an anthropologist who was also proficient in phonetics. I attended his seminars at CityU to learn as much as I could, albeit unsystematically.”

“As I started learning Cantonese romanisation, there was no standardised system. Jyutping was adopted in the academia, but it was not used by laymen at all.” He illustrates with the miscellany of romanisation of Chinese surnames. “The surname ‘Zee’ of Prof Eric Zee is more commonly spelled ‘Tsui’; ‘Choi’, ‘Tsoi’ and ‘Choy’ refer to the same Chinese surname; so as ‘Cheung’ and ‘Chiang’.” This is a legacy of colonial administration.

“In the past, officers at Birth Registries wrote down names that were best possibly pronounced accordingly to the romanisation system that they had learnt. But there were no standardised system, hence the variations.” He then learnt IPA too. “I had to grasp it as it is applicable to all languages.”

Learning IPA, then Cantonese , helps to minimise embarrassment.

“There is a big difference between the long ‘aa’ and the short ‘a’, such as in ‘lau’ (a surname) and ‘laau’ ( to scoop), and ‘faai’ (quick) and ‘fai’ (lame). Have you heard the joke about a washing machine? A person goes into a laundry and tells the shop assistant, ‘This piece of clothing can die this way or die the other way.’ There is a slight difference between ‘sei’ (to die) and ‘sai’ (to wash) in Cantonese.”

Inside the all-male office and engineering room, there is a professional recording studio for the production of “personalised children’s story platform. (ORKTS)

Constructing speech

Tan Lee has been researching in speech for over 30 years. “I study mainly the technologies of ‘Speech-to-Text’ and ‘Text-to-Speech’.” He points out that the former is trickier. Accent is one of the determining factors for the success of Speech-to-Text technology. “Context, accent, language, audio equipment and so on are some of the elements that may affect speech. Why does a mother talk to her young child slowly and repetitively? There is no single speech technology that can decipher all these issues.”

He emphasises the marvels of the human brain, “Understanding a speech may seem easy-peasy. Yet the human brain is in fact busy with a vast array of assumptions and settings. For instance, since I already know what you will ask me in this interview, I can understand you even if you stutter.”

“But you do not have these assumptions and settings to what I may say, then I have to speak very clearly. This is how the brain leads us to recognise speech. It is a very complicated technology. Can a computer programme recognise it? If it can this time, how about the next? A tremendous amount of training data are thus required.” He expounds perspicuously in just a few sentences.

Tan Lee likes to use “Speech-to-Text” in mobile phone communication. “It recognises even the most colloquial Cantonese phrases.” His doctoral research 30 years ago was on Cantonese speech recognition. (Unsplash)

Crossing the line for good

Although there is no single speech technology that covers all areas of communication, Lee Tan is good at liaising with scholars in various disciplines to take on all kinds of challenges with his expertise in engineering. These include improvement on speech processing of cochlear implant with audiologists, assessment for children with speech disorder with speech processing, identifying communication characteristics of exemplary counsellors with educational psychologists and so on.

“I suppose I am the most diverse researcher in terms of interdisciplinary projects. I have worked with all academic departments of CUHK except BA and Law.” He chuckles.

His recent project on retaining the voice of Jody, who was suffering from laryngeal cancer, has gained much public attention. The surgical treatment that Jody received involved the removal of the larynx, which meant she would lose her voice. Her son’s girlfriend sought help on the internet and it caught the attention of Matthew, a student of Tan Lee and led to this project. The team made over 10 hours of recordings of Jody’s voice before the surgery, and reconstructed her voice digitally with AI and speech synthesis so that she might “talk” in her own voice with others using “Text-to-Speech” application (see news coverage on Cable TV).

Tan Lee teamed up with Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery (ENT) and Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages (LML) in 2015 to launch an assessment software for children with speech disorders. He attended the product launch together with sign linguistics specialist Prof Gladys Tang (LML) and Deputy Chief of Division of Speech Therapy (ENT) Prof Thomas Law. (Tan Lee)

Once world’s largest Cantonese speech database

How did Tan Lee’s team manage to compile all the scripts for Jody in less than 24 hours? “We have already had these materials in hand including written language, conversational and story-telling speeches, as well as all the newspaper clippings in 1999-2000.”

He points out that CUHK is the first university to have received Hong Kong government’s Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF), and this very first funding has supported the building of a Cantonese speech database. The database, once the world’s largest of its kind, engaged over 1000 persons to create more than 400 hours of voice recordings.

“Apple acquired our database for its first-generation speech recognition application, though I have no idea how much information they have actually made used of.”

There is enormous potential for speech and deep learning technology. In spite of the possible appropriation for Deepfake, such as faking the voice of the president of a bank for financial fraud, the technology can help desperate patients like Jody and their families as well as people suffering from Parkinson’s disease and Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) with degenerate speech capacities.

“Imagine the elderly being able to hear the voice of their grandchildren who live abroad, or listen to them reading the newspaper… this technology will be helpful but there can be ethical issues too.”

He believes technology is to do good to those in need. “And not to those who chat with Siri when they are bored.” He does not like to use Siri but avails himself of the Speech-to-Text function in the mobile phone, “It generates very colloquial Cantonese phrases.”

Tan Lee loves playing basketball and has been in the sport for decades. He recently joined a team comprising members of the CUHK basketball team from 1970s-80s, and took part in local and regional competitions. They competed at the annual World Chinese Basketball Tournament held in Huizhou in 2015. (Tan Lee)

It is not uncommon for scholars to change tracks from the academia to business. Having a wide range of avocations such as singing and playing basketball, Tan Lee still has great relish in his position in the university. “I can learn a lot here.” He shares another recent collaboration with Prof Harold Chui of Department of Educational Psychology that is “fun and novel”.

“They had collected multitudinous hours of recordings from counselling sessions. We analysed the speech, intonation and other characteristics of the counsellors. We found that the key to effective counselling was not what advice the counsellor gave but how the counsellor guided the recipients to express themselves. These included intervals between responses, repeating the wordings used by the recipient and the frequency of such, and more so the use of function words. We even had a special meeting on function words — this was definitely new for me. By this I became more cautious when talking to my children.”

Apart from inter-departmental collaboration, he was awarded funding from CUHK KPF to create a personalised storytelling system in 2020 with speech technology. The mobile application allows children and parents to listen to 100 children’s stories, and enables children to change contents of the stories, such as colours and places to enhance interaction between children and parents. “Daddy can assume the role of the big bad wolf,” Tan Lee grins.

Is it possible to synthesise the voices of parents who are away or too busy to read stories to their kids? The father of two disapproves in no time, “It will be best for parents themselves to read to their children. I do not wish the technology to deviate from its good intentions. I am therefore very alert about this.” A good technology is not only effective but also ethical — surely this will be well-discussed in his general education course “Demystifying AI”. 

【Scholarly keyword】Speech technology research


“It’s relatively more difficult to get research in speech technology published or reviewed since this milieu is quite small. There are generally a lot of researchers on digital imaging and visual technology in each institute, but much less on speech. The ratio of research efforts in speech to image is 1 to 10. There are only a handful of speech technology researchers in Hong Kong.” The reason, Tan Lee observes, is that it’s difficult to visualise the difference.

In 1990s this was a stumbling block to even the most outstanding researchers to be tenured. “It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. They became top management in Microsoft and Apple.” Contrary to the knock-backs in the university, speech engineers are very much sought after by technology companies. “Alibaba can easily hire a hundred of them at one go.”

Original text in Chinese:Kary Wong@ORKTS
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Curated by InnoPort Team, one email to feed you the hottest info and story from the innovation universe — CUHK and beyond!
Where Ideas Root and Flourish

PI Centre Spring Recruitment 2022

【📣中大PI Centre Startup創業隊伍2022春季大招募✨Call for Entry!】
想自己做老闆?同朋友一起另起爐灶?🤩 敢創敢想敢做嘅未來創業家,你嘅機會嚟啦!🤘 PI Centre除咗可以提供創業基金💰同免費工作空間🤝之外,仲提供顧問諮詢同培訓🏃‍♂️,幫你踏上創業之路!🚀
💡想實現你嘅創業夢? 立即了解報名詳情啦!💃
🚨截止日期: 2022年3月14日23:59(星期一)
【ℹ️ 資訊日Info Session】
日期: 2022年2月18日(星期五)
時間: 16:30-18:00
【🤝 創業團隊配對網上平台】
👉 詳情:
【📣PI Centre – Call for CUHK Startup teams – Spring 2022】
Want to be your own boss and build a business with your friends?🤩 Aspiring entrepreneurs, don’t miss out! PI Centre is now open for application!🤘 PI Centre offers funding💰, co-working space🤝, entrepreneur consultancy & training🏃‍♂️ to support you on your entrepreneurial journey.🚀
💡 Want to make your business idea a reality? Learn more about us now! 💃
🚨Application Deadline: 14 Mar 2022, 23:59 (Monday)
【ℹ️ Information Session】
Date: 18 Feb 2022 (Fri)
Time: 16:30-18:00
【🤝 Online Team Formation】
👉 Details:

“What’s so special about corals in Hong Kong? They are simply tough!” — Apple Chui believes we will conserve only what we love

Coral culturing facilities at Simon F. S. Li Marine Science Laboratory at CUHK. (ORKTS)

“Bleached corals are not dead,” says Apple. Corals get most of their bright colours from zooxanthellae, which live in a mutually beneficial relationship with coral polyps by producing food for corals. In the documentary Chasing Coral highly recommended by Apple, a scholar describes such mutualism this way, “They (corals) essentially have food factories living inside of themselves”. Corals expel the zooxanthellae that live inside them when sea temperature increases, leaving only the transparent coral polyps and white coral skeletons. This is called coral bleaching.

Apple emphasises that bleaching corals are losing most of their food sources, but if the environment improves soon enough for zooxanthellae to return, corals can recover from bleaching. If unfavourable conditions persist, however, corals may die or are more at risk of diseases.

Original text in Chinese:Kary Wong@ORKTS
Not yet a subscriber? !Do it now!

Curated by InnoPort Team, one email to feed you the hottest info and story from the innovation universe — CUHK and beyond!
Where Ideas Root and Flourish

Health Data For All: How to Utilize HA Health Data for Multidisciplinary Grant Applications

Health data is not exclusively useful for the field of #Medicine, but also #Artificial Intelligence, #Big Data, #Engineering, #Public Health and you name it! But how to get access to these vast and valuable data? Set up by Hospital Authority Data Collaboration Lab (HADCL), Self-service Data Platform serves to encourage innovative research ideas and collaborations using HA clinical data.

In this symposium, four distinguished CUHK researchers will share their insights of capitalizing on the health data supported by HADCL for their research, including:

  • Machine Learning for Liver Cancer Prediction with Data from HADCL
  • Collaboration between Physicians and Data Scientists in Utilizing HA Health data: An Experience Sharing
  • Artificial Intelligence in MRI Radiology: Interaction between Data and Model Reliability
  • Utilizing Hospital Authority Shared Data to Explore a Hypothesis for Grant Application: An Experience Sharing

Date: 6 Dec 2021 (Mon)
Time: 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Venue: UGA, InnoPort
Language: English
Registration: click here (Deadline: 3 Dec 2021, 3 pm)


Prof. Grace Wong Lai Hung
Professor Grace Wong is a Professor in the department of Medicine and Therapeutics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Prof. Wong’s main research interests include big data research in medicine, chronic viral hepatitis, liver fibrosis and liver cancer. She has published over 360 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and is currently the Director of CUHK Medical Data Analytics Centre (MDAC), the Editor-in-Chief of Hepatology (Hong Kong edition), and the Associate Editor for other academic journals. She has been awarded the Young Investigator Award of the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver in 2009, the Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) of Hong Kong in 2014, the Richard Yu Lectureship of the Hong Kong College of Physicians in 2021 and so forth.

Prof. Martin Wong Chi Sang
Professor Martin C. S. Wong is a specialist in Family Medicine and a researcher in the field of cancer screening and prevention of chronic diseases. Prof. Wong has composed over three hundred publications in international peer-reviewed journals, and received over 15 research awards for studies in his research area, including the prestigious “1st Distinguished Research Making Family Medicine Shine Award” by the World Organization of Family Doctors in 2018. In 2016, he was conferred as an Honorary Fellow by the Hong Kong Academy of Nursing to recognize his achievements in the profession and contributions to primary care. He was appointed as the Editor-in-Chief of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine in 2017; and Fellows of various Academies, Royal Colleges and professional societies.

Dr. Matthew Wong Lun
Dr. Lun M. Wong is an academic specialized in analytical radiology research, specializing in artificial intelligence (AI). He obtained his PhD degree from the Department of Imaging and Interventional Radiology of The Chinese University of Hong Kong and is currently serving as a Research Assistant Professor in the same department. His research interest focused on investigating the applications of AI, including deep learning and radiomics, in managing cancers of the complex region of the head and neck. His major field of work involved tailoring artificial neural networks to detect, segment and characterize nasopharyngeal carcinoma on plain MRI sequences.

Prof. Marc Chong Ka Chun
Dr. Marc Chong is currently an Assistant Professor in the JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Dr. Chong has worked as a biostatistician in the Centre for Clinical Research and Biostatistics since 2006, possessing rich experience in conducting various statistical analysis of academic and industrial clinical trials. He has also been a statistical consultant for different consultation projects, such as Development of Refined Population-based Model to Inform Resource Allocation, Surgical Outcomes Monitoring and Improvement Programme, and Intensive Care Units Outcomes Monitoring Program held by Hospital Authority.

Click here for the catalogue of the symposium.

Enquiry: InnoPort Team | Email: | Tel: +852 3943 0475

ORKTS Webinar Series | From Bench to Bedside: My Journey of Building a Medical Robotics Company


While surgical robotic technology has been widely adopted by surgeons to improve the clinical outcomes, the high cost of getting started is the biggest hurdle to allow the surgical community to take advantage of its full potential, limiting more patients to benefit from robotic surgery.

In Sept 2019, Prof. Au and a few CUHK affiliates started a company, called Cornerstone Robotics (CSR), dedicated to advance surgery and patient care through innovation and technology. CSR aims to develop safe and effective surgical robotic platform to offer robotic surgery at an affordable price, ultimately improving the accessibility of high-end surgical robotic devices.  Over the past two years, the company has grown from around 10 people to a 200-people company with three R&D centers established in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Boston area(USA).  Their signature robotic platform, Karakorum surgical system has entered into the pre-clinical stage, targeting for clinical trial in mainland and Hong Kong next year.  

In this talk, Prof. Au will take us through his journey from a researcher to an entrepreneur.  He will share the unique challenges that he has experienced in building such an interdisciplinary technology team and organization to tackle a highly challenging engineering problem in a highly regulated healthcare industry. In particular, he will discuss the essence of agility and innovation in his organization and how these elements help his organization to flourish despite many regulatory obstacles.

Medium: English

Watch Replay of Previous Episodes of ORKTS Webinar Series.(Staff Login Required)

Hong Kong Techathon 2022

Calling for all programmers, engineers, designers, marketers and entrepreneurs – Hong Kong Techathon 2022 is back this year in hybrid format! This year’s techathon will run from 3 Jan 2022 to 8 Jan 2022. Over the week, participants will work collaboratively to come up with innovative ideas and prototypes to pitch for seed fund and incubation support!

The challenge is a great opportunity to meet new friends, have fun and work together to bring in a new and possible business solution related to AI & Fintech, Humanities & Health Tech, Social Impact & New Generation Technology, Smart City & Sustainability.

Join us now for the chance of winning seed funding totalling up to $1.9M!

Legal Series: Equity Incentive Plans

Valuable talents are highly sought after in the start-up scene. To help secure these valuable employees, founders could consider using Equity incentive plans, which could give these employees the incentive to stay with the company while avoiding the company’s shares from being diluted. Want to learn more about share option plans, equity-linked schemes, and what mistakes you should avoid? What are the best market practices? Don’t miss out on this upcoming seminar with Tanner de Witt!

ORKTS Webinar Series: Social Innovation – A Practice to Create Positive Change

In this introductory talk, the concepts of social innovation and social entrepreneurship would be explored, illustrated with a few examples of impactful social innovation. The audience would be guided to reflect on the possibility of translating their research into tangible impacts in society and create positive change.


Mr. Mark Cheng
Senior Advisor for Europe and Asia, Ashoka

Mark is a member of the Leadership Group at Ashoka, the world’s leading organisation supporting the development of social entrepreneurship and innovation. After moving from London to Hong Kong, he started the Hong Kong Chapter for Ashoka in 2017. Mark is also the founder of Social Innovation Circle, coaching social entrepreneurs and impact investors to build and fund sustainable business models for systems change.

Dr. Elsie Tsui
Head of Social Innovation, ORKTS, CUHK

Date: 07 Dec 2021 (Tue)
Time: 11:00am–12:00pm
Mode: Zoom Webinar (Link will be sent upon confirmation)
Medium: English
Enquiry: InnoPort Team, ORKTS (Email: | Tel: 3943 3042)


Watch Replay of Previous Episodes of ORKTS Webinar Series.(Staff Login Required)


Money and Fame in GBA Seminar

As a Hong Kong startup which has just stepped in GBA cities, what can I do to get the first pot of gold to develop the business and boost my brand awareness? What kinds of funding and sponsorship opportunities I can look for? How do I build a strong brand identity for my startup to stand out among competitors in the GBA?

In this seminar, Mr. CHAN Sing, CEO of Biden Consulting Co., Limited and Mr. Kevin ON, General Manager (HK) of The Hoffman Agency will share their tips on fundraising and marketing in the GBA. If you and your friends are interested in discovering new business in the GBA, don’t miss out!

Language: Cantonese

Registration Deadline: 18 Nov, 1 pm

CUHK VCCE Boot Camp 2021 (27-28/11/2021)

Prizes & Internship Awards

  • Champion: HK$10,000
  • 1st Runner: HK$7,000
  • 2nd Runner: HK$5,000
  • Internship Awards: Up to HK$50,000 / team. Enable the teams to implement the first phase of their project under mentorship. Current CUHK students are entitled to receive Internship Awards.

Application & Business Idea Summary

  • 19 Nov 2021 (Friday) by 5:00 PM (UTC+8) – Submit your Team Registration & Business Idea Summary (< 500 words in English)
  • 24 Nov 2021 (Wednesday) – Shortlisted teams will be informed and prepare for the Boot camp on 27-28 Nov 2021.
  • Registration Deadline: 19 Nov 2021 (Monday) by 5:00 PM (UTC+8)



這一次的中大創業者聯盟Happy Hour,前期創業育成中心請來無盡醫療(322970.KS)共同創始人及Pentepebble投資總監許安頌先生分享研究人員在知識轉移及商業化研究成果時要注意的重要事項!




中大創業者聯盟「Happy Hour」創業訪談系列第四輪第八場講座由香港中文大學深圳研究院主辦,將於10月29日下午6點開講,此次活動邀請朗力半導體公司董事長兼CEO的胡林平校友,爲衆多創業者就「夢想成就獨角獸」爲主題,以不一樣視角,爲大家分享科技創新企業的組建團隊、融資策略、企業估值等經驗,同時從獨角獸背後的創投邏輯來解讀創業有哪些必備要素,企業如何借助資本的力量成爲獨角獸。 活動採用綫上直播和現場參與兩種方式同步進行,同爲創業者的中大人,歡迎來交流!現場位置有限,先到先得。




因此杜柏濤校友Patrick(05逸夫工商管理)看準商機創微網紅平台Click3Clicks。 業配價格較低、精準鎖定受眾、粉絲忠誠度高,素人及微網紅能夠迅速提高品牌討論度,微網紅的時代就此來臨!

現在就快報名中大創業者聯盟 Happy Hour創業訪談系列第四輪「你都可做微網紅賺外快!」





AI Technology and Career Opportunities

Content Focus:

• Introduction of speakers and HKAI Lab
• Introduction of Regtics
• Introduction of Algogene
• Introduction of HKAI Lab
• Q&A and wrap-up

Language: English




陳校友以社會服務為起點,走向拓展社會企業,過程中經歷多少跌宕起伏?一路走來,她怎樣應對各種挑戰而不忘初心?在歷史悠久的慈善機構從事「內部創業」(Intrapreneurship) ,又需具備甚麼特質呢?陳校友將一一細述。 正在探索社會創新之路的你,萬勿錯過!


Legal Series: Investment Agreements and the Founder

As a founder, how much do you know about investment agreements? Do you know what reverse vesting is, and how the subscription and closing process works? We got you covered – don’t miss out on this upcoming seminar co-hosted with Tanner de Witt to learn more!

CUHK & CUHK(SZ) Joint Seminar Series: How Structural Biology and Collaborative Research Environment Help Us to Understand the Molecular Mechanism of Life

3rd Zoom Webinar by CUHK | How Structural Biology and Collaborative Research Environment Help Us to Understand the Molecular Mechanism of Life

Prof. Kam-Bo Wong is a structural biologist who uses a multi-disciplinary approach to understand the molecular mechanism of life. In this talk, he will introduce the research platforms at the School of Life Sciences, CUHK and explain how the collaborative research environment helps his research on the mechanism of urease maturation and protein sorting in plant cells.

The webinar will be conducted in English.

If you’re interested, please click here to register (The Zoom link will be provided to registrants via email). The deadline of registration will be 5pm, 07 Oct 2021 (Thursday).

Enquiry: InnoPort Team, ORKTS (Email: | Tel: +852-3943-0813)

ORKTS Webinar | How To Maximize The Chances Of Success When Commercializing Your Biomedical Research

The Biotech industry is among the most sophisticated and elegant achievements of modern science.  It is by far one of the fastest-growing industries generating unlimited investment opportunities for research potential while at the same time contributes to society by addressing patient’s unmet medical needs.

The seminar will provide an overview on how to maximize the chances of success when commercializing discoveries in medical research:

  • What Biopharma industry is looking for
  • Key areas for success
  • Critical factors to succeed
  • The future in commercialization with Biopharma industry


Speaker: Mr. Jairo Pardey / Chief Executive Officer, Pierre Fabre Group (Hong Kong & Macau)

Moderator: Dr. Winnie Chow / Knowledge Liaison Manager at ORKTS, CUHK

Date: 30 Sep 2021 (Thu)

Time: 11:00–12:00 p.m.

Mode: Online via Zoom (Link will be sent 3 days prior to the workshop)


CU Architecture X Gerontology — Co-create Happy Ageing Lab

Mo chose to study architecture due to a teenage fantasy — he thought that all architects were stylish. “As soon as I got here, I realised that there was considerable diversity among architects — big tummies, flip-flop lovers, down-at-the-heels… haha.” (Photo credit: ORTKS)

“The difference between ‘Building’ and ‘Architecture’ lies in the human touch of the latter,” chuckles Mo Kar Him, Assistant Professor of the School of Architecture, CUHK. Mo, in a chic navy blue Tang shirt jacket, quotes Le Corbusier, the pioneer and maestro of modernist architecture, to explicate his “way of architecture”.

He further highlights, “Architecture is not only a physical environment. It is an arena for ‘the interwork of souls between people and space’.”

Before moving on to discuss different levels of architecture, let’s get to know the affable duo — Mo and Rina. Both architects graduated from CUHK. Mo is now teaching at the School of Architecture of CUHK. Rina is an accountant-cum-architect who left a famous Swiss architectural firm in 2018 to join the CUHK Jockey Club Institute of Ageing, despite a hefty axe on the salary.

Why did the two young executives leap from their professions into research, especially in gerontology? They had even secured funding from CUHK Sustainable Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (S-KPF) to set up the social enterprise Happy Ageing Lab. How does architecture affect the health of the elderly? Can we age discerningly? What changes do Mo and Rina want to make?

Start: Walkable Hong Kong

(Photo credit: “Nutcrackers” Facebook page)
The programme “Nutcrackers” was launched in 2019. Not only were the activities assiduously designed, but the presentations were also aesthetically curated. The photo on the right shows participants taking part in an activity at The Mills before the pandemic. (Photo credit: “Nutcrackers” Facebook page)

The idea of a social enterprise was conceived when Mo and Rina worked together at “Nutcrackers”. Nutcrackers advocates healthy ageing in Hong Kong. They recruit a group of elderly to learn about urban planning, architectural design, universal design and so on, then conduct place audits and share their end-user experience.

“The two-year project gathered a group of enthusiastic and knowledgeable senior citizens. So how can their voices be heeded to promote social change? This is what Happy Ageing Lab aims to do.” Mo points out the philosophy of the company.

Apart from philosophy, a social enterprise is also required of a business model. “We provide assessment on elderly-friendliness of architectural environments, for instance, whether the washrooms of a shopping mall are safe and easy to find. The accessibility of toilets can be a determining factor for elderly people to step outside their home.”

One Step at a Time

In the theory of startups, minimum viable product (MVP) refers to the basic version of a product with just sufficient features to launch to the market in order to collect user feedbacks. Mo’s team begins with “toilet” with a similar objective in mind.

“Toilet is small and manageable for measuring and comparing its performance. It is easier to bring about change and is actionable as it is small enough.” They plan to kick off the project in Tsuen Wan. “Tsuen Wan is an ideal trial area with a good mix of new and old communities. It is also conveniently connected and walkable, which is important for the elderly.”

The team hopes to share the assessment results with developers and property management companies, and that they will consider and follow up with the findings. “Sometimes I am wary that my wife would slip in a shopping mall washroom, not to mention the elderly. Designers and property management companies have to work hand in hand to solve the problem.” A caring guy indeed.

How are they going to disseminate opinions of the elderly participants? There are quite a number of social media channels that are popular with young people. KOLs can make significant noise. They plan to set up a KOL platform for golden-agers, and are now busy producing video clips for them to pass on their voices, opinions and insights.

Willian (first from right), Rina (centre), and Mo (second from right) are co-founders of Happy Ageing Lab. The three of them and Prof Jean Woo are core members of “Nutcrackers”. This photo is taken during Nutcrackers’ visit to the School of Architecture, CUHK. (Photo credit: Nutcrackers)

The Mature Student Way

There are three co-founders of Happy Ageing Lab, including William Sin, an expert in community development. The team has been in close partnership with a group of senior citizens. Rina, before joining CUHK, had been quite detached with users during her academic and career pursuits. She decided to quit and “do something meaningful that engage users.” What made her left the reputable Swiss architectural firm to join the Institute of Ageing?

“Upon completing the Tai Kwun project, I realised that I like preliminary research and design more. So I quitted my job and completed the professional exam. And started thinking why I was doing all this.” Rina, with a small strand of brightly-highlighted forelock, has a first undergraduate degree in Accounting. For the love of architecture, she spent another year in the UK studying architecture, and returned to Hong Kong as a mature student to complete her undergraduate degree in architecture at CUHK, and then a master of architecture.

“As a mature student, I was 10-plus years older than my peers. I hence often pondered about meaning.” And why did she chew over gerontology? This had to do with her personal experience.

As Rina was exploring what life had for her after her “naked” resignation, “My mom fell down the stairs and was admitted to the geriatrics ward of Ruttonjee Hospital. I was dismayed by the scene at the ward. Some patients were so skinny that their eyes bulged. Some could not close their jaws, lost all their teeth or muscle. Others whimpered all night due to all kinds of ailments.” Rina recounts in great length.

As such she realised perhaps her professional knowledge might be useful for the ageing population, which was receiving increasing attention as a social problem. After some diligent research, Rina knocked repeatedly on the door of CUHK Jockey Club Institute of Ageing to persuade Prof Jean Woo, the then Director of the Institute, to hire her. Prof Woo was at first hesitant about having Rina for the new post as its responsibilities were largely administrative. She was afraid that this would be a talent mismatch.

Rina’s persistence paid off and she got into the Institute. As soon as she was on board she did more than what was required, and hunted resources everywhere to create favourable conditions towards her goal. Rina made a significant contribution to the setting up of Nutcrackers — a cross-disciplinary project that connects the expertise of CUHK scholars in urban planning, architecture and medicine to promote Hong Kong as a “happy-ageing” society. Her longtime friend Mo was invited to join the team.

Back to the Academia

“When I started studying architecture, I wanted to change the world with architecture. This could be a reflection of my class monitor or teacher’s helper complex,” Mo chuckles again.

With a passion for design and art, and the dream to change the world, Mo had worked in policy research related positions after completing his PhD in architecture at CUHK. But things did not turn out as he expected. “I was very much disconnected from the community and people. At the same time there was certain kind of estrangement with different parties. It was quite depressing…haha.”

He hence decided to return to research and teaching. “I hope to pass on some good values to the next generation.” As a co-founder of Happy Ageing Lab, he often joins working groups on-site to listen to the opinions of the elderly on communal facilities.

Before the pandemic, Nutcrackers surveyed different neighbourhoods with senior and young participants. (Photo credit: Nutcrackers)

What Makes a Happy Ageing Society?

“There is a certain level of objectivity in considering whether a society is a happy ageing society, such as walkability and green space. But it takes another level for golden agers to lead an active and enriching social life. Loneliness of the elderly is a serious social problem in Hong Kong. Many of them are reluctant to step outside their home, especially those who are chronically ill. Designing community environment is thus very important. For instance, will a carefully designed corridor encourage the elderly to stay outside longer?” Mo reckons that sociability has greater impact on the health of the elderly than tangible conditions.

Enhancing social interaction via built environment design is one of the key objectives in Community Development. User participation is salient in the design process. “Participatory design and co-design, which emphasise engaging end-users, are catching on big in recent years. Such engagement was absent during my study or at my previous jobs,” says Mo.

The three co-founders partnered with One Bit Design Studio to design prototype of elderly-friendly flats for Housing Society Elderly Resources Centre. This co-design experience had inspired the establishment of Happy Ageing Lab. (Photo credit: One Bite Design Studio)

Human Touching Journey

Mo continues to point out how good architecture enables the interwork of souls between people and space. As a Christian, he shares a touching experience in Korea. “Rocks and forests were configured as a prayer garden of natural environment. It was the first time that I cried for visiting a place. There was an open space in the garden, where people played volleyball, worshipped or prayed. It was such a beautiful vista. You don’t cry when you see people play volleyball in Victoria park, do you?”

Rina the contemplator jokes that she only cries when she meets Crowd Lu, a Taiwanese signer-songwriter. She has similar experience at Wo Hop Shek Cemetery to share too. “In front of the Wo Hop Shek Architectural Services Building, there was a coffin in the front, behind which were glass panes and then bamboo trees. As sunlight sifts down, for the first time I was in awe how great architectural design creates an ambience that comforts and soothes when you need it,” applauds Rina, who seems to be stirred particularly by life and death matters.

“It was not an ambience that can be easily created. This is what makes a maestro. Architects have to be observant. Participatory design is important in a way that it delivers user opinions to the industry, “ Rina accentuates.

“Architecture is not only a photo by the architect. It is the vessel that carries feelings of the people at any particular moment. Whether sad, happy or celebrating, the experience belongs to the users. In the past, architectural design process tend to exclude users. What can the outcome possibly carry?” Mo concurs that user participation is indispensable in the early stage of a good architectural design.

Happy Ageing Lab envisions a beautiful, generational-inclusive city. Towards the end of the interview, we notice the fashionable and niftily tailored masks that Mo and Rina are wearing. “It’s handmade by an elderly in Nutcrackers, with the cloth that I bought from Japan,” says Rina jovially. Will this be the prototype of a new product of Happy Ageing Lab?

The team partners with Hong Kong Arts Centre to hold Urban Design Lab and other workshops in the neighbourhood. The photos show local residents and youths explore community development, co-living and co-management together in North Point.”. (Photo Credit: Happy Ageing Lab)


(Photo: Canva)
【Scholarly keyword】Narrative Design

Initially trained as an accountant, Rina was madly in love with architecture thanks to an instructor’s compelling storytelling skill. “We had many hands-on experiences with narrative design. We would, for instance, dissect a mobile phone in class to deconstruct the function, meaning, human interaction of each part. Each module could spark great discussions.”

“Architecture is full of metaphors. Symbols and configuration of space can create imageries that are not only functional but also artistic and practical,” Mo continues to explain what are “storytelling” designs.




中大創業者聯盟Happy Hour X 創業大師班




Term Sheet Negotiation

When working with investors, the term sheet is an important document that you will need to come across. Come along to this workshop to learn how you can negotiate a complex term sheet and better terms for you and your start-up!

Craft & Deliver an Outstanding Pitch

Want to know how you can capture people’s attention with your pitch and persuade them to believe in your product and company? Then don’t miss out! Learn how to effectively craft & deliver an outstanding pitch this upcoming workshop!

CUHK Innovation Day 2021

Date: 23 Sep 2021 | Showcase: 23-25 Sep 2021
Opening Session [Virtual]
開幕典禮 [虛擬]
Online Livestream 線上直播 Thematic Session [Hybrid]
主題講座 [實體+虛擬]
G/F, Yasumoto International Academic Park, CUHK 中大康本國際學術園地下
Exhibition 創新展覽

Over the years, CUHK has put in much effort to translate research and innovation (R&I) into projects that create societal impacts. Through capitalization of intellectual properties, entrepreneurial activities and commercialization of R&I projects, such transfer of knowledge between universities and the society helps bring about socio-economic impact and improvements to the community and businesses.
As a collaborative effort to showcase our research and innovation achievements, the first-ever CUHK Innovation Day will be held alongside with the CUHK Entrepreneur Day to demonstrate the pathway from research and innovation to commercialisation.
Innovation in the areas of satellite technologies, robotics, biomedicine and education would be featured on the event day. Together with CUHK start-up projects, the exhibition will be held both online and offline on campus. Inspiring Talks and panel discussions of Innovation Day will also be broadcast live.
Register NOW to secure your seat!

Click here for more on event details.

中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談: 連結今昔 ‧ 跨代共創: 由一份FYP到一間NPO



Healthy Longevity Global Innovator Summit (13-14, 22 Sep 2021)

The Office of Research and Knowledge Transfer Services (ORKTS) would like to bring to your attention regarding the Healthy Longevity Global Innovator Summit.

Healthy Longevity Global Innovator Summit |13-14, 22 Sep 2021|

The U.S. National Academy of Medicine (NAM) will hold its inaugural Healthy Longevity Global Innovator Summit on 13-14 and 22 September 2021. The Innovator Summit will bring together international Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awardees from 2020, industry leaders, academics, researchers, scientists, and entrepreneurs whose work contributes to the field of healthy longevity. The event will feature remarks from the President of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Victor Dzau, and Catalyst Award Sponsors, Dr. William Hait, Global Head of Johnson & Johnson External Innovation, and Dr. Terry Fulmer, President of the John A. Hartford Foundation. Visionary keynote speakers will share insights into launching biotechnology start-ups and opportunities for groundbreaking science in the field of longevity. Attendees can learn about the early-stage, award-winning innovations, hear from leaders in the field of healthy longevity, and take advantage of various networking opportunities designed to foster interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaboration.

Announcement of 2021 international Catalyst Awards |22 Sep 2021|

The 2021 international Catalyst Awardees will be announced during the last day of the Summit. This year, 5 winners from Hong Kong will receive the Catalyst Awards.

About the Healthy Longevity Global Competition – Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards are part of the Healthy Longevity Global Competition founded by NAM and are available in nearly 50 countries and territories. The Global Competition aims to accelerate research and innovation to support healthy longevity through a series of monetary awards and prizes. The three phases of the Global Competition include: (1) Catalyst Phase, (2) Accelerator Phase, and (3) Grand Prize Phase. For more information, please refer to the Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards (Hong Kong) competition website.

For further event details and information, please refer to the agenda.

Click here to register now!

Social Media Trends in 2021 and Beyond: How to Get Prepared for 2022 Digital Marketing?

Want to know what the hottest digital marketing methods are and how they may evolve in the future? What ways can you and your business adapt to it? Don’t miss out on this upcoming seminar, where our speaker will be covering an overview of social media trends in Hong Kong and offer tips to cope with the ever-evolving social media landscape!

How to Strike a Balance between Appealing UX and Product Timeline

Appealing UX could leave a long-lasting impression on first-time users – but perfecting it could also be extremely time-consuming, leading to delays in product timelines. How can product developers strike a balance between the two? Come along to this seminar to find out!

中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談:創業不困難?


安宇昭校友Andy Ann作爲超過20間初創公司的創辦人,由創業初期遇上沙士,到無奈離開自己親手創辦的公司,近二十年的創業旅途經歷過大大小小的失敗,才造就現在的成就。去年,他更透過出版《創業不困難》一書,毫不吝嗇地分享他的成功與失敗,讓年輕人能以此為鑒,走出屬於自己的成功路。



嘉賓:安宇昭校友(09 研究院行政人員工商管理)|NDN Group (HK) Limited 創辦人及行政總裁
主持:盧子頴校友(93逸夫心理學;16研究院行政人員工商管理)| 中大校友傳承基金執行委員會委員
地點:Innoport UGA & 線上直播

中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談: 由建築系到「精準扶貧」— 林達的田野創業哲學




疫情下沒得飛,怎麼辦?創業經歷谷底,靠甚麼爬起身?創業一定是孤獨的?作為InnoPort樓下Café inno330的熟客,林達這晚跟大家「你問我答」,一齊來了解一下這位不羈社創家背後的「創業哲學」!

延伸閱讀:麥田裏的社創家 林達以區塊鏈助農村脫貧

主持:梁麗貞女士 | CUHK InnoPort 經理
地點:Innoport UGA & 線上直播



CB360 Workshop Series 9 – Applied Marketing

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises (HKGCSE) will organize a series of capacity building workshops (CB360) for social enterprises at InnoPort.


CB360 Workshop Series 8 – Principle of Marketing

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises (HKGCSE) will organize a series of capacity building workshops (CB360) for social enterprises at InnoPort.


CB360 Workshop Series 7 – Financial Management in Practice

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises (HKGCSE) will organize a series of capacity building workshops (CB360) for social enterprises at InnoPort.


Utilizing Design Thinking for Generating Good Ideas [PART 2]

Ever got stuck on brainstorming good ideas? Maybe you’d want to give design thinking a try! Come along to our workshops to learn more how you can harness this skill and apply to your projects!


Utilizing Design Thinking for Generating Good Ideas [PART 1]

Ever got stuck on brainstorming good ideas? Maybe you’d want to give design thinking a try! Come along to our workshops to learn more how you can harness this skill and apply to your projects!


Early Stage Investor Series: Fei Zheng [Healthcare focus]

Looking for funding for your early stage startup? Why not consult the experts! In this Early Stage Investors Series, PI Centre will be inviting various early stage VCs to share their tips on how startups can prepare themselves for Seed and Series A funding rounds.

In the upcoming webinar, Mr. Fei Zheng, Associate of Qiming Venture Partners, will be sharing with us his expertise!


About the Speaker
Mr. Fei Zheng is an Associate of Qiming Venture Partners, focusing on healthcare investment. Before joining Qiming Venture Partners, Fei was an associate at healthcare equity research of Credit Suisse, covering more than ten biotech and pharma companies in China. Prior to that, Fei was a Vice President at China Renaissance, helping funding raising for private healthcare companies in China. Fei earned his Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from Baylor College of Medicine in the U.S.. He got his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Peking University.


Legal Series: Approaches in Raising Capital

When looking for investors for your startup, what sort of preparation should you do when you look for investors? Ever heard of due diligence, SAFE and Convertible Loan Notes? These are all tools that could help you out! Don’t miss out on this upcoming webinar, where our speakers will cover the legal processes for funding!


ORKTS Webinar Series | Patents – How to Get Started as an Inventor at CUHK

In today’s knowledge economy, intellectual properties (IP), particularly patents have become important assets of organizations and companies in their pursuit of economic benefit and creation of social impact.  However, getting a patent is far more challenging than it seems given all the legal requirements and formalities to be satisfied before a patent is granted.

This seminar will first provide an overview of patent basics such as –

  • the patent systems worldwide,
  • what are patentable subject matters,
  • common types of patent applications,
  • strategies and timelines for filing, and
  • issues to watch out as an academic inventor.

The second part of the seminar will focus on the IP-services provided by ORKTS, particularly professional services and university funding available for patent filing, and how ORKTS will help CUHK Inventors to navigate through the arduous and rewarding journey of IP protection and development.

Date: 2 Aug 2021

Dr. Albert Chan / Partner at the Law Offices of Albert Wai-Kit Chan, PLLC
Ms. Tracy Pang /
Technology Development Manager at ORKTS, CUHK

Format: Zoom

🔎Search Marketing Strategy Basics for Startups🚀

Nowadays, having your website on the first page of search results could grant you more exposure than placing ads in other places – that’s why learning more about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is more important than ever! Want to know how you can use this powerful tool to your advantage? Don’t miss out on this upcoming webinar on Search Marketing Strategy Basics for Startups!

Language: Cantonese

CUHK Webinar: Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Have you ever thought about translating your innovative ideas into action and starting your own business? In this webinar, three young CUHK alumni entrepreneurs will share their career ambitions and how they have coped with different challenges when establishing their start-ups. Join us and get ready to embark on your entrepreneurial journey!


Medium: English

Registration link:

Entrepreneur Corner: HandyRehab

Recently awarded Forbes 30 under 30 (Asia), Mr. Alvin Cheung is the CEO & Co-Founder of HandyRehab, Zunosaki Limited, a company working on technologies that could improve the quality of life for the disabled. Currently, HandyRehab has already entered international markets such as Spain, Germany, China and Japan!

Want to learn more about his startup journey? Don’t miss out on this upcoming fireside chat co-hosted by HKSEC and CUHK PI Centre!

CB360 Workshop Series 6 – Financial Management in Social Enterprise

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises (HKGCSE) will organize a series of capacity building workshops (CB360) for social enterprises at InnoPort.


CB360 Workshop Series 5 – Business Management in Social Enterprise 2

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises (HKGCSE) will organize a series of capacity building workshops (CB360) for social enterprises at InnoPort.


CB360 Workshop Series 4 – Business Management in Social Enterprise 1

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises (HKGCSE) will organize a series of capacity building workshops (CB360) for social enterprises at InnoPort.



How to work with a Lawyer

As your startup matures, legal issues are inevitable – from contracts, down to terms of service agreements. Times like these are when founders may want to consult a lawyer for legal advice. Want to know the most cost-effective approaches when working with lawyers and how you can get the most out of your consultation sessions? Come along to this webinar to learn more!

[Webinar Series] Startups Marketing Strategies in the Digital age – Session 3

As a startup, one of the best places you can use to promote your products and services is the Internet. Want to learn how to make the best use of this powerful tool to market your business? We got you covered – PI Centre’s upcoming webinar series will walk you through the basics of market research, and introduce you to a practical tool that can help you with it. Don’t miss out!

Session 3: Overview to Web Analytics
Date: 28 July 2021 (Wed)
Time: 18:30-20:00

• Why is it so important to track your website?
Everyone knows how a website is important to your business in getting more exposure and sales, but not everyone aware the importance of knowing the performance of your website from time-to-time.
• You need to know how many traffic are generated?
With a physical store, you can always know how many customers are visiting on a regular basis. However when your products or contents are being placed on the website or online shop, you also have to understand how many customers are visiting and how do they behave in different pages. Without a physical sales person to attract the online buyers, you need to know which pages are more frequently visited. Analysing the website is the same with understanding your customers in order to better serve their needs and ultimately to increase sales.
• Tools: Google Analytics

[Webinar Series] Startups Marketing Strategies in the Digital age – Session 2

As a startup, one of the best places you can use to promote your products and services is the Internet. Want to learn how to make the best use of this powerful tool to market your business? We got you covered – PI Centre’s upcoming webinar series will walk you through the basics of market research, and introduce you to a practical tool that can help you with it. Don’t miss out!

Session 2: Introduction to Market Research Methodology
Date: 14 July 2021 (Wed)
Time: 18:30-20:00
• Research methods introduction
• Questionnaire and discussion guide design fundamentals
• Ways to analyse results and drive actionable business decisions
• Branding, customer satisfaction researches
• Case study

[Webinar Series] Startups Marketing Strategies in the Digital age – Session 1

As a startup, one of the best places you can use to promote your products and services is the Internet. Want to learn how to make the best use of this powerful tool to market your business? We got you covered – PI Centre’s upcoming webinar series will walk you through the basics of market research, and introduce you to a practical tool that can help you with it. Don’t miss out!

Session 1: Importance of Marketing Research for Startups
• Why do we need market research?
• What are the benefits of market research to start up businesses?
• How to understand your customers and identify target audience?
• How to understand your position in the market using research and SWOT analysis? (+ case study)
• How to compete better through detailed understanding of your competitors?
• Overview of primary and secondary researches

Early Stage Investors Series: Mr. Tytus Michalski

Looking for funding for your early stage startup? Why not consult the experts! In this Early Stage Investors Series, PI Centre will be inviting various early stage VCs to share their tips on how startups can prepare themselves for Seed and Series A funding rounds.

In the upcoming webinar, Mr. Tytus Michalski, Managing Partner of Fresco Capital and  Honorary Project Director of CUHK Center for Entrepreneurship will be sharing with us his expertise!


Escape prompts empathy: Felix Sze advocates mental well-being for the deaf

“I would say that these experiences make me mentally stronger with greater empathy for others. When people share their difficulties with you, do not criticise why they don’t solve their own problems — there might be predicaments that you’d never be able to comprehend,” says Prof Felix Yim Binh Sze, reflecting on her unusual upbringing and hence her enthusiasm in improving the mental well-being of the underprivileged, especially the deaf.

We arrived at Felix’s office at the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies in CUHK University Academy Building No. 2 on a Thursday afternoon. The chalky white building near Science Park shimmered amidst swaying palm trees and open lawns.

The Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies is situated in CUHK University Academy Building No. 2.(ORKTS)

From English Literature to Deaf Studies

Felix is an Associate Professor of the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, and the co-director of the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies. Last year, together with Prof Winnie Mak of the Department of Psychology, she launched the project “Enhancing Mental Health of the Deaf Community in Hong Kong” supported by CUHK Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (KPF). The project builds a Sign Language-Chinese bilingual database on mental well-being for deaf individuals to understand mental health issues such as “depression” and “anxiety”, and raises awareness on deaf identity and mental health through storytelling training sessions.

As a hearing person without deaf friends or relatives, how did Felix start her academic research on the deaf and sign language in the first place? This all began with her undergraduate studies.

Felix studied English at CUHK in 1990s through the “Provisional Acceptance Scheme”. But Felix soon reconciled that she was not that into English Literature and found her interest in linguistics instead.“As I learnt more and more about linguistics, I realised that I was not meant for a particular subject if I dozed off when studying. Yet linguistics keeps me on the ball.”

Upon graduation, she turned down the invitation to teach English at her alma mater and moved on to MPhil in linguistics. At first she studied the acquisition of Cantonese of young children, but the departure of her thesis supervisor from CUHK opened up a new pathway.

“I was a teaching assistant of Prof Gladys Tang. She asked if I wanted to study sign language and I just hopped on the opportunity.” Felix admits that, most of the time, her direction in life is to go with the flow. “I never say I have to do this or that. Instead I keep doing what I’m interested in, and seize the opportunity.”

It was then that she first got in touch with the deaf community, not because of any noble mission, but out of sheer attractiveness of sign language.

“I read about brain science and grammatical analysis of sign language. It was serendipity. The language system of sign language is totally different from Cantonese or English. I picked up basic sign language in 1998, starting from numbers, alphabets and simple vocabularies like father and mother.”

We had heard from Prof Gladys Tang the very interesting story on how Felix came on a “maestro” on sign language. Kenny, the first deaf researcher at the Centre, is a native signer. Felix literally found him on the street.

Felix (right) was once the teaching assistant of Prof Gladys Tang. Today they work closely on promoting sign language and co-direct the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies. (ISO/CUHK)

Finding Teacher on the Street

“I only started learning sign language during my MPhil studies. My first sign language teacher was hard-of-hearing. His was fluent in sign language though a late learner. As I read more research papers I realised that it would be better to learn from native signers, just as learning any language from native speakers. So I began looking for a native signer. Yet fewer than 5% of deaf people are native signers as most are born to hearing non-signing parents. One night, after visiting my boyfriend (now my husband), I met a couple at the bus stop. They were signing to each other. I ignored the arriving bus, went up to them instead and asked if they could teach me sign language.”

They exchanged contacts. It turned out that the girl was from a deaf family and was genuine native signer. Felix would visit the girl’s home to learn sign language, and got to know the girl’s deaf brother Kenny, who is now a staff at the Centre. Kenny was then a construction worker. He studied very hard to complete his undergraduate studies at CUHK. It took him 5 years of sub-degree training before he got into the BA in Linguistics (senior year entry). Today Kenny is studying masters and is a sign language instructor at CUHK. It was a thorough transformation for him.

“There were several big jumps in my sign language proficiency. Learning from Kenny was certainly one of those. We often had lunch together — I taught him English and he would correct my signs. That’s how language is learnt. You’ll make significant improvements by having deaf friends.”

For Felix, studying an MPhil was a random decision, but it was with much determination that she went for a doctorate. During the three years of her masters studies, she saw how difficult it was to rid the misconceptions of officials in the Education Bureau on sign language. (Sign language was often disregarded. Deaf students could only wear hearing aids or read lips in class.) “Sign language can assist deaf children’s learning and development tremendously, but the officials do not understand this. Yet they are the ones who formulate the policies. I have to be well-equipped academically to change the institution.”

After thorough consideration, she began her doctorate in Deaf Studies in 2000 at the University of Bristol. She resolved to take Deaf Studies and declined the offer from University of Cambridge on a postgraduate research program on Second Language Acquisition of English.

Others might not be able to understand why Felix turned down an offer from a top university of the world. Did her family doubt her decision?

“No. Throughout my childhood my parents were busy making ends meet. So I was pretty free to do what I liked. They never questioned my decisions at all, and supported me always.” Felix goes on to elaborate on how she becomes mentally strong due to her unusual upbringing.

Felix is happy to share her own experiences, and encourages student to be open-minded in finding direction in life (ORKTS/CUHK)

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

“You can tell that the spelling of my name in English is a bit strange. I am Vietnamese Chinese. I was born in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and my family fled to Hong Kong in 1976 when I was two. My grandfather, dubbed “the Banana King”, used to run a successful fruit business in the Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City. As soon as the troops of North Vietnam took over South Vietnam in 1975, they began purging Chinese. They voided the local currency, and confiscated the properties of Chinese and restricted their freedom of movement. Like all other wealthy Chinese, my grandfather lost his fortune overnight.”

Hong Kong saw the influx of Vietnamese refugees since mid-1970. Luckily, Felix’s father had studied in Hong Kong when he was young, and he had a Hong Kong ID card. Her family was retreated to Hong Kong by the British Hong Kong government chartered flight. “Most of other Chinese fled as stowaways by boat. That was extremely risky. My aunt and her boyfriend’s family of a dozen drowned in the sea.” It was a tragic period of oppression and narrow escape.

“Many Chinese families lost everything overnight. They could not withstand the persecution and the whole family committed suicide, like adding raticide in their last dinner. I felt very shocked hearing these true stories.” Felix does not remember much about the days in Vietnam, but she has heard loads of these agonising stories from her parents.

Vietnamese refugee crisis had troubled Hong Kong for nearly a quarter of a century. Many of the refugees faced discrimination. As Vietnamese Chinese, Felix was sometimes verbally abused by her schoolmates in her senior primary and junior secondary school years. “The harassment had lasted for some time, but stopped when they probably realised I was a pretty bright student. This somehow made me mentally stronger, and not to take ridicules seriously. My background as a refugee enables me to empathise more easily with the underprivileged.”

Riding on public transport can be stressful for deaf individuals (ORKTS/CUHK)

Psychological well-being of the deaf neglected

Empathy is the key to the creation of the project on mental health for deaf individuals. “When I was pursuing my doctorate degree in the UK, a fellow student with a background in psychology shared that what is stressless for the hearing can be distressing for the deaf. Their needs are easily neglected if we do not pay attention.”

“For instance, in many parts of UK, passengers have to tell the bus driver their destinations when boarding so that the bus driver can let the passenger know how much the bus fare is. This is no easy task for the deaf. When there are other passengers queuing to get on the bus, the bus driver can get impatient. This will make deaf passengers stressful. The design of some mental health questionnaires may not reflect the reasons for deaf individuals to be stressful in a bus ride. They are misunderstood as having serious anxiety and misdiagnosed for being mentally ill, and the situation evolves into a vicious cycle.” 

Felix points out that without proper training, psychologists may fail to see such double-misinterpretation. They may resort to drugs or refer them to psychiatrists instead of understanding and solving their actual needs.

Another incident that upsets Felix is the suicide of Li Ching in 2008. Li Ching passed public examination with flying colours, yet she had great difficulty in finding a job upon graduation. She was then referred to work at the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies. “She grew up in mainstream schools with spoken languages only. It had been very stressful to her, and her mental health was not very well when she joined us at the Centre. She had then made effort in assimilating into the signing deaf community but could not help feeling defeated,” Felix chokes back her tears.

“Her death was a huge blow to everyone at the Centre. It however strengthened my belief in the importance of mental well-being for the deaf. We would never wish to see another similar incident.” Her calling is backed by several young colleagues including Kloris Lau who is about to take a masters course in counselling, and Ham Chu who is currently studying masters in clinical psychology.

Project members of “Enhancing mental health of the Deaf community in Hong Kong” (from left to right): Kloris Lau, Prof Felix Sze, Prof Winnie Mak and Ham Chu. (ORKTS/CUHK)

This project also embodies the transfer of knowledge among several “generations” of tutors and students.

Ham, 28 years of age and hearing, came across Kenny’s sign language class when she was an undergraduate student in Psychology at CUHK. She was fascinated by the world of sign language, and has since then kept learning sign language and becomes a sign language interpreter. She aims to be a clinical psychologist who can provide therapy in Hong Kong Sign Language for deaf individuals. Her enthusiasm in this fortuitous journey is impressive.

The project integrates academic knowledge and experience of both departments of Linguistics and Psychology at CUHK. Felix and Kloris are building a sign language database by scrutinising concepts in psychology in sign language. Winnie and Ham provide storytelling training sessions to enhance community engagement of deaf individuals, and raise awareness of the general public by having the deaf to sign their own stories.

It is time for Felix to leave after an enjoyable sharing on Hong Kong Sign Language and Deaf culture. Felix hastily picks up her backpack, “Gotta go and fetch my guinea pig from the pet clinic!”

(Photo: Unsplash)
【Scholarly keyword】Blink and phrase

Felix mentions that deaf and sign language studies are very broad, “I study whatever I find interesting.” Her research interests include euphemisms in sex-related signs in Asian sign languages, incorporation of gestures of hearing people into sign language, sign language assessments, documentation, whether learning sign language helps the elderly to improve cognition and spatial recognition, etc.

Facial expression, posture and eye contact are essential elements in communication between deaf individuals. “Eye contact is especially important as the breaking of it means disengagement. When they quarrel, they simply face away.”

“They blink to indicate the break of a sentence. I have published interesting findings in related studies. But analysing large amount of blinking data in signing video is a daunting task,” Felix smiles wryly.

Startup Opportunities in Thailand

Thinking about expanding your business to other Asia regions and considering Thailand as one of your markets? Don’t miss out on our upcoming webinar cohosted with RISE – we will cover topics such as Thailand’s startup ecosystem, opportunities, policies for startups and more! See you there!

ORKTS Webinar: From Research to Market – How ORKTS could support your journey

中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談:迎勢而上:學者從商


王澤睿校友曾是中大機械與自動化工程系和中大天石機器人研究所的研究助理教授,現時為Cornerstone Robotics Limited (CSR) 的共同創辦人之一,同時亦是其首席運營官和研發總監之一。CSR專注於發展機械人科技,尤其是針對復健相關的醫療技術和外科手術,同時注重將創新技術轉化至臨床應用。公司的願景是為患者提供更高質量的醫療服務和提升服務的普及性。



中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談:從遊戲到電競事業

「Happy Hour」創業訪談系列第三輪最後一場講座由中大工程學院創新科技中心安排,邀得天旭科技投資集團 (Skyzer VC Group) 之聯合創辦人暨行政總裁楊全盛校友Eric(99崇基計算機科學、05研究院電子商務管理、09研究院工商管理)分享「從遊戲到電競事業」。楊校友自小熱愛電子遊戲,讀書時代已開始自學編寫遊戲,同時亦參加電玩比賽。大學畢業由IT人轉營投資娛樂科技,並積極推動電子競技(電競)產業發展,成立香港電競總會。



Legal Series: Taxation and Revenue Law

中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談:「産學研」 之創新路



「Happy Hour」創業訪談系列第三輪第八場講座由香港中文大學深圳研究院眾創中心安排,邀得其入駐企業——邁微思(深圳)科技有限公司的聯合創始人韋大成(06研究院電子工程)分享「創業故事:『產學研』之“創新”路」。邁微思是一家專注於微波通信無源器件設計、調測並提供相應調試服務的科技型公司;而韋校友在校期間獲得的豐富研究經驗項目管理能力,為帶領公司穩步向前打下了堅實的基礎,實現了產、學、研各方面資源的有效結合。



日期: 5月14日(星期五)
時間: 下午5時至5時45分
形式: 混合模式

[註:參加者可選擇參與網上直播或到香港中文大學深圳研究院318會議室(深圳市南山區粵興二道10號)現場出席 ]

登記: 郵件報名



查詢: 電話:0755-86920025 / 0755-86920052 / 852-39430345

電郵 / /

樂齡復康科技 X 動療


中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談: 心。理。創商 — 企業培訓的藍海策略



Dilution and the Effect

When a company is looking for more money to expand, or to develop a new product, releasing new shares is one method of fundraising. For current shareholders, however, this means that the newly issued shares will reduce the percentage of the company that they own, which may reduce their voting power.

Want to learn more about how dilution works and its effects, and what the best practices are? Come along to this seminar to learn more!

“MAKE a DASH” – New Funding Scheme for Youth Entrepreneurship in the GBA

New Funding Scheme for Youth Entrepreneurship in the GBA

The Office of Research and Knowledge Transfer (ORKTS) is rolling out a new funding scheme for students and young professors to start or develop their business regardless of nature. Each start-up team may receive a capital subsidy of up tp HK$600,000.

Apply NOW! It is open for Application until 21 May 2021 (Friday).

Click here to know more about details.

CUHK x ASTRI Industry Talk Series: Data Analytics vs. Data Privacy, Synergy or Compromise?

Language: English

Register Now


Privacy Preservation – The Critical Building Block of Fintech Applications
by Dr. Shum Kam Hong, Director of Applied Cryptosystems, Cybersecurity, Cryptography & Trusted Technology Division in Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI)

Can We Securely Outsource Big Data Analytics with Lightweight Cryptography?
by Prof. Sherman Chow, Department of Information Engineering, CUHK

Panel Discussion moderated by Prof. Raymond Tsang, Centre for Financial Engineering, CUHK

Q&A Session


Privacy Preservation – The Critical Building Block of Fintech Applications

Although the potential benefits of sharing enterprises’ data to perform AI and machine learning algorithms are huge, the issue of data privacy prohibits the realization of data sharing. This talk will first describe different privacy preserving technologies that support data sharing without compromising the protection of data privacy. Among these technologies, Federated Learning is highly promising in empowering many innovative applications by running machine learning models on data originating from different data providers. The utilization of such data, known as alternative data, will not be possible without the proper implementation of privacy preserving technologies. The use cases of using alternative data by fintech applications will be compared and described in this talk.

Can We Securely Outsource Big Data Analytics with Lightweight Cryptography?

Machine learning often involves sensitive data. It is desirable to preserve all stakeholders’ privacy, namely, querying clients, model owner, and training data contributors. State-of-the-art cryptographic solutions are still orders of magnitudes slower than plaintext training and inference. To narrow the gap between theory and practice, we put forward a new paradigm for privacy-preserving big data analytics that leverages GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and trusted processor (such as Intel SGX). Due to the memory constraint of SGX and the untrusted nature of GPU, we still need specific cryptographic techniques to make it secure and practical. This talk will share some recent results published in AAAI, IJCAI, NDSS, and Usenix Security from our cryptography research group at the Department of Information Engineering, CUHK.


Dr. KH Shum has over 25 years of working experience in both the industry and academia. He is currently the Director of Applied Cryptosystems, Cybersecurity, Cryptography & Trusted Technology Division in Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI). His experience in the IT industry includes CTO and technical director positions in various IT companies, specializing in the areas of security, e-payment, and fintech solutions. The IT systems designed by him had been deployed widely in Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Thailand and other countries in Asia.

Dr. Shum has been conducting research in the areas of cryptography and fintech security since the late nineties. He is a former faculty member of the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Management University. He received his PhD degree in computer science from the University of Cambridge with the support of the scholarship from the Hong Kong Croucher Foundation. He has also recently received the degree of Doctor of Education from the University of Hong Kong, specializing in the use of data analytics in learning technologies.

Prof. Sherman Chow got his Ph.D. from Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University. He publishes in and serves as a program committee of many top-tier conferences in cryptography and security, including AsiaCrypt, CCS, and Usenix Security, and fintech and privacy conferences, such as PETS and Financial Cryptography. He is the Deputy Editor in Cryptography of IET Information Security, and served on the award committee of The Caspar Bowden Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies in 2019. He is a European Alliance for Innovation (EAI) Fellow (2019, inaugural), and named as one of the 100 Most Influential Scholars (Security and Privacy, 2018) by ArnetMiner (AMiner). He is also a founding member of IEEE SMC’s Blockchain technical committee and a research committee of the Hong Kong Blockchain Society.



日期:2021年4月22日 (星期四)
形式: 廣東話線上研討會


中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談: From Zero to Hero


由朱綺華校友(98逸夫生物化學;00研究院工商管理)成立的 iSTEM AI Lab 本著「授人以漁」的初心為學生提供體驗式學習。在 iSTEM 的理念中,老師是新知識協作者,而學生則要成為知識的主人,所以直接將科技交到學生手上能啟發學生對科技的興趣,從而推動香港的「科創精神」。

蘇冠嵐校友(18崇基工商管理)創辦的十曜工房專精於研發虛擬體驗方案。從2019年成為數碼港孵化企業,再到疫情期間建立前海科研分部,近年經歷格外波瀾起伏,但亦成功凝聚海內外的人才轉危為機。新開展的虛擬展會平台項目 Clairvo 更在短短半年內獲得業界多項殊榮。

From Zero to Hero 是兩位女性校友的願景,一位將期望放在學生身上,一位希望創業路上的身邊人皆能最終成就自我。本次的分享將帶給大家兩段滿佈荊棘卻不失溫度的創業之路。



New Funding Scheme for Youth Entrepreneurship in the GBA – Briefing Session

The Chinese University of Hong Kong received dedicated funding from the Funding Scheme for Youth Entrepreneurship in the Guangdong-HK-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) under the Youth Development Fund, taking a step further its entrepreneurial support to local youngsters. Under the new Scheme, CUHK will offer up to HK$600K to successful teams of CUHK students and / or alumni to launch and expand their business in strategic industries, which anticipates more members of the University to explore the GBA market and opportunities. To help applicants preparing for the application and business plan, a briefing session will be organized on Friday April 23 (PM).

At the briefing, we will share with participants tips on successful bidding for this scheme. Please join us to obtain the first-hand experience in preparing successful fund applications.

Click here for programme details.

Click here for briefing session details.

Apply NOW


中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談: 唱彈社企樂與路




電話 | 3943-9249

中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談: 創業故事:灣區追夢攻略



Video Production Basics & Useful Tools

係依個內容營銷嘅新時代,我哋經常會聽到「影片為王」(Video is King)。想將影片融入你嘅營銷大計裡面,但係無從入手?除咗認識剪片工具之外,想了解多啲影片嘅製作過程,就唔好錯過嚟緊嘅工作坊啦!快啲報名向專家學下點樣充分利用影片帶出你嘅品牌故事啦!

How to win in marketing with low budget? Content Marketing Strategies for Startups

In an era where there is an abundance of information, standing out from the crowd has become more and more difficult, especially for startups. Want to learn how to integrate content marketing strategies into your marketing plans, and win audience and customers with a low budget? Come along to this webinar to learn more!


City I&T Grand Challenge 2021

Will you be Hong Kong’s next

Innovation and technology is rapidly gaining speed in Hong Kong. As of 2019, our city has brought more than 3,100 home-grown start-ups to life, with more on the rise.

We launched the first ever City I&T Grand Challenge (“The Grand Challenge”) to solve important challenges that affect Hongkongers’ everyday lives. The Grand Challenge engages people from all walks of life, from across the world to submit innovative ideas and transform them into impactful solutions.

We believe that anyone can be an innovator, whether you are a student, employee, entrepreneur or retiree. The Grand Challenge invites you to help transform the future of Hong Kong, one idea at a time. If you enjoy tackling big picture issues, discovering creative solutions and moving the city forward into the future, the Grand Challenge is the perfect place for you to put your creativity and innovative skills to the test. Winners will have the chance to receive mentorship and shadow startups and advisors. Selected projects may even be productised, featured in exhibitions and roadshows, and enter incubation programmes!

Ready to bring your ideas to life and help alleviate Hong Kong’s imminent challenges?

Get involved now

Idea Submission
18 Dec 2020 – 30 Jun 2021
Submit your innovative idea as a team or an individual on the City I&T Grand Challenge website under any of the 6 groups: Primary School P1-3 (Yr 1-3) or P4-6 (Yr 4-6), Secondary School F1-3 (Yr 7-9) or F4-6 (Yr 10-13), University/Tertiary Institute, and Open Group.

Join Now.

Details please click here.

中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談:創業新思維。新常態。新機遇。





香港數碼港管理有限公司 – 創業家總監

蘇雅麗女士在2011年加入香港數碼港,之前曾於香港科技園,及知名的跨國塑料,化學品和製藥公司工作。她現職數碼港,帶領團隊透過數碼港創意微型基金、數碼港培育計劃及Smart-Space共享工作間培育創科人才,提供財務支持和專業服務,協助初創加速業務發展。她擁有公共及社會管理學士學位及工程商業管理碩士學位,常擔任科技獎項及創新資助計劃的評審,包括香港資訊及通訊科技獎、阿里巴巴 Jumpstarter 2017、麻省理工學院的國際融合創新大賽2019、Technovation、大學科技初創企業資助計劃等。她是香港電腦學會的執行委員會成員及項目管理協會的項目管理專業人員。




劉芷申教授現任中大商學院副教授及創業研究中心副主任。劉教授獲英屬哥倫比亞大學(UBC) 博士學位,主修組織行為學。她的研究範疇包括多元化與分化管理 (diversity and faultline management)、人際關係與信任 (interpersonal trust)、中國初創團隊建立與管理等 (start-up team success and management in greater China)。在投身學術界之前,劉教授在香港及加拿大多家財務機構工作。



L-I-V-E: Fundamental Principles of Innovation and Design Thinking

Don’t miss the gate to success in the “City I&T Grand Challenge” by joining this L-I-V-E training workshop. Understanding the essence of design thinking, steering the direction of innovative ideas and mastering the skills to assist in planning ahead will drive you to excel in the Grand Challenge.

Topic:Fundamental Principles of Innovation and Design Thinking
Date:8 April 2021 (Thursday)
Time:4:30pm – 5:15pm (University / Tertiary Institute & Open Group)
Format: Live webinar (Zoom Webinar URL will be sent to the registrants before the event day)
Language: English (University / Tertiary Institute & Open Group)

University / Tertiary Institute & Open Group
How to turn an innovation into success? What are the common factors that drive innovation failure? Dr. Elsie Tsui from The Chinese University of Hong Kong will share with us how the general mass see “Innovation” and inspiring learning from real cases on what are the popular success factors that put social innovation into a champion or common factors that drive innovation failure.

Followed by Dr. Tsui’s sharing, Mr. Nicholas Ooi from Lingnan University will unveil the essential skills of design thinking and how this process can help address a successful innovation.

The two speakers will also share their thoughts on how innovation stand strong under the new normal.

Dr. Elsie Tsui, Head of Social Innovation, ORKTS, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Mr. Nicholas OOI, Programme Manager of Lingnan Entrepreneurship Initiative (LEI), Lingnan University

Speakers Bio:
Dr. Elsie Tsui is the Head of Social Innovation of ORKTS, and the Project Director of the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge (HKSEC). In her role, Dr. Tsui leads the team to encourage CUHK members to work together to create social impact through novel ideas and application of knowledge. Prior to joining the university, she has extensive experience both as a corporate executive (with Coca-Cola China) and a management consultant (!What If? Innovation Partner). Specialising in innovation management, innovation capability building through design thinking, as well as organisation transformation strategy, she has led many high impact training workshops for the leaders from Fortune 500 companies across Europe and Asia.

Mr. Nicholas OOI (Nick) is the Programme Manager of Lingnan Entrepreneurship Initiative, Lingnan University. He was recently selected by the programme’s inaugural Faculty Innovation Fellows Program by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.School) at Stanford University which aims to improve the innovation ecosystems in schools and help students gain vital real-world skills and mindsets. Nick is experienced in conducting Design Innovation and Inclusive Entrepreneurship topics related workshops for students and he has conducted more than 80 workshops with accumulations of a total of more than 500 training hours. Nick was invited to be the speaker for TEDx Lingnan University to encourage the concept of Active Ageing and Intergeneration Collaboration in the community.

Click here to register for the live webinar and join our panel discussion and Q&A session to get inspired and kick start your innovation journey!

Hong Kong Startups Career Day@CUHK 2021

To encourage entrepreneurship on campus, we are happy to have Erica Yuen, David Siu and Uncle Siu as our guest speakers to share their stories of entrepreneurship and career development insights.

If you are interested to join this event in person, please register to reserve your seat by 9 April, Friday. Please note that limited seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. OR if you would like to join our event virtually, please also register!

In addition, we have invited 17 CUHK enabled startups to post job openings on the website ( Please check and apply for the positions you are interested by email to the companies.





Healthy Longevity Global Competition

Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards are part of the Healthy Longevity Global Competition founded by the United States National Academy of Medicine (NAM), and are available in nearly 50 countries and territories. As the initial phase of the Global Competition, Catalyst Awards will reward bold, new, potentially transformative ideas to improve the physical, mental, or social well-being and health of people as they age, in a measurable and equitable way.

Successful applicants may receive funding up to US$50,000 for a period of 12 months. The 2021 cycle of Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards (Hong Kong) will be open for submission from 1 March 2021 (12:00 AM, HKT) to 12 April 2021 (11:59 PM, HKT).

Who should apply:
• You are a full-time CUHK academic and research staff with the ranking of (Research) Assistant Professor, Research Fellow or above
• You have an innovative idea and/or breakthrough approaches that could extend the human healthspan and promote healthy aging

Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards seek innovative approaches from any discipline that aim to extend the human healthspan, especially approaches that challenge existing paradigms or propose new methodologies or concepts. For application guidelines and further information, please visit the Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards Hong Kong website.

中大「Happy Hour」創業訪談: 點解做科技公關?型咯

「Happy Hour」創業訪談系列第三輪第二場講座由中大研究及知識轉移服務處安排,邀得Across Asia Communications聯合創辦人劉錦德校友(04新亞自動化與計算機輔助工程)分享《點解做科技公關?型咯》。Kent由一名工程學畢業生,到「貪好玩」創立科技公關公司Across Asia Communications Limited;最近他又嫌在家工作懨悶,更「膽粗粗」於網台和Clubhouse大談科技。3月26日,就讓Kent和你一邊Happy Hour一邊講故事。

「Happy Hour」第三輪活動亦加添了新元素:

  • 第三輪的創業訪談活動題為「Entrepreneurship & Friends
    • 希望各中大創業人透過此平台,分享自己的創業故事,從而互相聯繫及支持,為師生校友帶來不同方面的啟發及得益。
  • 活動以混合模式舉行
    • 參加者除了可以透過ZOOM線上直播收看講座,亦可以選擇親身*InnoPort參與實體講座,與講者及其他參加者現場交流互動。


Preserving community stories: Prof Anthony Fung shares vistas of Shek O and his years of “Over Flowers”

The book Fashioning the Male Professors co-written by Prof Anthony Fung, Dr Louis Ho, Dr Chow Yiu-fai and Prof John Erni, gives a glimpse of Prof Fung’s assiduity on grooming, fashion and scent. The lines are peppered with his honest and humorous remarks.

Anthony has been with the School of Journalism and Communication, CUHK since 2001. He champions styling even before the bloom of the Korean drama “Boys Over Flowers” — wearing make-up, going to beauty salon, getting immaculate facial treatment, and even choosing fabrics and making patterns by himself to get his outfits tailored. “I tailored these by myself,” he said proudly, pointing at the light-coloured checkered cropped pants he was wearing.

Project team of “Visualizing the past, connecting to the present” — Dr Sally Lo (left), Prof Anthony Fung (middle), and Prof Johnson Chan (right). (SoCUBE)

From wardrobe to community

“Others may just sit back when taking a break from writing paper. I seize the time to trim my eyebrows,” Anthony spoke jovially on tips to utilise every tick of the clock. He could go on for a whole day on grooming as an integral part of life, but he was more than happy to share instead on a collaborative knowledge transfer project about Shek O, and his previous initiative with the School of Architecture on documentary and cultural promotion in Sai Ying Pun.

On a breezy morning a few days after this interview at the end of January, Anthony and his crew strolled in the sleepy and sultry village of Shek O to film various cultural and historic spots with the assistance of local villagers. These footage would be archived in a VR database for promoting culture and life of the century-old village of Shek O.

Video-documenting is only part of what the project “Visualizing the past, connecting to the present” involves. Before applying for the CUHK Knowledge Transfer Project Fundlast year, Anthony recruited two teammates — Dr Sally Lo and Prof Johnson Chan, who specialise in oral history and sustainable tourism respectively. They hope to preserve the cultural heritage of this typhoon-prone village of more than two thousand residents.

Villagers explained how Super Typhoon Mangkhut ravaged Shek O Beach three years ago. There was even a great shift on the coastline. Anthony (middle) was filming on this day at Shek O with the crew. (SoCUBE)

Last year the project team touched base with volunteers of Shek O Heritage Society and Shek O Residents Association, and got to hear interesting stories from the villagers — working at Shek O Golf & Country Club during the colonial years, organising festivities with adjacent villages and so on. Nowadays Shek O is packed with beach-goers and visitors taking IG-able photos at European-like houses and alleys every weekend, but few really pay attention to the people and history here. This kind of tourism is probably not desired by the local villagers.

Shek O was severely damaged by Super Typhoon Mangkhut in 2018. Anthony met a villager from Shek O at an event and ideas of a project sparkled. “The typhoon was devastating to them. He suggested that I study what can be studied. I have always had an interest in communities and documenting their stories. Many communities will vanish lest proper preservation is done.”

“The project will record stories from the local elders’ point of view. I hope to organise educational events at schools around Shau Kei Wan to promote the historic values of Shek O. It has so much more to offer than a tourist spot.” Notwithstanding the cancellation of an assortment of celebrations such as Mid-Autumn Festival, Tin Hau’s Birthday and Halloween (Shek O has a significant non-Chinese population) as well as oral history interviews, video documenting could still carry on.

Develop and document

The sights of Shek O were reminiscent of his first research project upon joining CUHK in the beginning of 2000s, which took place in Mui Wo. When MTR Tung Chung Line opened, the town quiet down as people no longer took ferry to Lantau via Mui Wo. Anthony wanted to know how this might impact the youths in Mui Wo and its community development on the whole.

“I began anyways without any success on funding, and visited Mui Wo twice every week for six months. Random chats at cha chaan teng are good starting points. Making friends is important. Otherwise why on earth would the villagers trust you?” Integration is the prerequisite for community projects. He went from door to door at Mui Wo with a historian friend, and visited schools and youth centres to complete the research.

Apart from the projects at Shek O and Mui Wo, Anthony teamed up with Prof Hendrik Tieben of School of Architecture, CUHK in 2013 with the support of CUHK’s Knowledge Transfer Fund to launch the whimsical community project Magic Carpet. Again this project had something to do with the MTR. How did the opening of MTR Sai Ying Pun Station affect the rather run-down community?

The team trained over twenty students from St Paul’s College who interviewed a good number of residents in the neighbourhood. On a mid-autumn night, the simple set-up of an artificial grass carpet, a projector and a screen transformed the steep, underused public space in Centre Street into an outdoor cinema, where residents of the area came to watch the video interviews, and reflected on the relationship between cultural conservation and urban development. Great response received in Sai Ying Pun allowed the project to be subsequently brought to Tin Shui Wai and To Kwa Wan.

An alumnus of the School of Journalism & Communication, Anthony has taught at the School for 20 years. He is also the director of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies. (SoCUBE)
 Adventures of a straight-A student

Proficient in pop culture, youth culture and gaming industry, Anthony’s interest in community issues might have sprung from his social service experiences when he was in secondary school. In the 1980s, Anthony and his schoolmates often volunteered at elderly homes and youth centres.

“One of the most memorable occasions happened at a fishermen children’s school in Shau Kei Wan. It was not uncommon back then for fishermen to forbid their children from attending school. The school teachers would have to visit and persuade these parents to let their kids receive education. I volunteered at the school by organising extra-curricular activities for the children.”

These experiences inspired him to study journalism and communications at CUHK through the Early Admission Scheme upon completing sixth-form at Wah Yan College, Hong Kong. It was quite an unusual choice as most elite students would take medicine, electrical engineering or business and administration.

“Many of my classmates had become doctors. My mother was very liberal but she could not help from berating me for my decision.” Anthony and his mother were very close, as revealed in Fashioning the Male Professors.

Upon graduating from CUHK, Anthony was awarded a scholarship for postgraduate studies at University of Minnesota. He completed Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication and PhD in Communication within 6 years, and returned to Hong Kong just in time to witness the city’s handover to China. Was “study hard” his mantra?

Work hard, play harder

Quite the contrary. Anthony has his own theory on time management. He took to American college life like a duck to water. “I never missed any party or thanks-giving gathering. I had to understand the community and society(quite a good excuse).” He totally embodies the catchphrase “it requires effort to look effortless”.

“Later I found myself roistering over the line as I had beg my landlord pardon for returning late almost every night. So I restrict myself for partying two nights per week at most. It helped a lot to focus on writing papers from then on.” Efficiency comes from self-discipline. His motto to students: work hard, play hard.

Anthony’s remarkable academic achievement and career is not without real work experience in the media. In 1991, he took advantage of the less busy final year term and took on a full-time job at Oriental Daily for HK$10,000 per month (still the same salary for this post 20 years after). He was assigned to the complaint column. It was the golden age of media workers.

“It was also the time when complaints were not properly handled. Lack of community facilities, public toilets weren’t taken care of… I remember going all the way to Chung Hom Kok to take photos of a public toilet there. It was hilarious. But there were lots of opportunities to reach out to different groups and issues of the society.” It was definitely an unforgettable “working holiday” for Anthony before going to US for postgraduate studies.

Apart from flipping government telephone directories to air grievances, Anthony also wrote extensively on environment, adventure, alternative medicine and so on. “Reporters were given proper respect and freedom. Everything we wrote would be published without political concerns.” Job satisfaction aside, he quitted after a bit more than a year when the Rotary scholarship was secured.

Anthony is both well-versed and well-dressed. (SoCUBE)

Setting trend senses

While in US, Anthony realised that news is only a fraction of applied communication studies. Television, film and music are also significant research topics. “What really matters is how communication takes place in daily life. News only constitutes a small part of that.” Pop culture became his research interest as soon as he returned to Hong Kong. He started with comparative studies on Asian TV dramas, and gaming industry since 2000s.

In 2015, Anthony was appointed professor at Beijing Normal University where he would spend three months in a year with access to the big data of China’s Tech Giants for his research on gaming industry. He recommends closer collaboration between CUHK and private companies, and that between the academia and business on the whole. “The multitudinous terms and conditions make it extremely difficult for the university to work with the private sector,” Anthony understands the risks of conflict of interest though, “So it has to be win-win.”

He wishes that the pandemic will be over soon so that he can carry out his plans, one of which is buying fabrics in Shenzhen to replenish his wardrobe.

(Photo: Unsplash)
【Scholarly keyword】Cultural and Creative Industry

Anthony’s research focuses on cultural and creative industry. “This is not rocket science. What is in our daily lives can bring about enormous economic value. In the past it was driven by television, film, music, anime and manga. Today these elements have advanced by the power of technology and digitalisation.” While Google and Amazon are global big names in the industry, Anthony is expert in Tencent, TikTok and their game content, production and user study. “Discussions in recent years highlight cultural policies and how they are formulated in different countries and regions to drive economy and employment. Korea is a good example. Non-mainstream culture claiming to authenticity and uniqueness is catching big among the younger generation, and economic opportunities from such are attractive to youngsters.”

Legal Series: Protecting your Business through Intellectual Property

Intellectual property can be a very valuable asset to attract people and investors to your company, but once you gain attention, your ideas could easily be taken and used by other people. Do you know what types of IP there are, and how you can protect it? Come along to this workshop to learn more!

City I&T Grand Challenge Info Session

Did you know? Hong Kong is home to 3,100+ startups, with at least 2,300 of them focused on I&T solutions. Want to try your hand at I&T solutions that can solve important challanges in HKer’s daily lives?The first ever City I&T Grand Challenge (“The Grand Challenge”) is now calling for your innovative ideas!

Winners will have the chance to receive mentorship and shadow startups and advisors. Selected projects may even be productised, featured in exhibitions and roadshows, and enter incubation programmes!

To learn more about this competition, visit the official website and join our information session now!

Free Online Course “Intellectual Property: Inventors, Entrepreneurs, Creators”

Developed through the partnership of National Academy of Inventors (NAI) with The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property and NAI Fellow Dr. Gary K. Michelson, this 3.5 hour IP course on the platform:

  • is FREE of charge; All staff and students can enroll via the link : free online intellectual property course
  • covers IP basics, suitable for learners at all levels, particularly beginners!
  • 5-10mins on specific topics, hence can be taken at one’s own pace

Please feel free to contact ORKTS’s IP and Technology Licensing Team at the email and phone number shown below if you have any question on the course or inquiries on IP protection and commercialization at CUHK:

Ms. Fei Fei Miu Tel: 3943 9398 E-mail:
Mr. James Chan Tel: 3943 1970 E-mail:

*Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

HKAI Lab Accelerator Program – Cohort 5

HKAI LAB is now accepting applications at

Application deadline: 31st March 2021

Apply NOW!

HKAI LAB offers a 12-month Accelerator Program that takes your startup to the next level, focusing on commercializing AI inventions and technologies that are developed at the lab.
Learn more about the HKAI LAB Accelerator Program

Pitch Your Idea

Want to know how you to capture people’s attention with your pitch and persuade them to believe in your product and company? Then don’t miss out! Learn how to effectively deliver the message to your audience in this upcoming workshop!

Language: English

Entrepreneur Corner: Expanding HK based Business to Taiwan

Want to learn from people’s experiences of expanding Hong Kong based businesses to Taiwan? Come along to our upcoming firechat, co-hosted by CUHK PI Centre and Taiwan Startup Stadium, where Mr. Alan Chan, Founder & CEO of Omnichat, Mr. Danny Chong, Senior Investment Director from Gobi Partners and Mr. Duncan Hui, Country Manager of Spaceship will be invited to share their experiences. Don’t miss out!

Language: Cantonese (Supplemented with English)

AI Technology and Career Opportunities

Content Focus:
• Journey of startup
• Career opportunities
• Accelerator Program of HKAI Lab

LinkedIn for Startups

Did you know that other than job hunting, LinkedIn could also be used for networking and raising awareness for your startup company? What are the best content strategies? If you want to learn more, don’t miss out on this upcoming workshop!

Extend HK Business in Taiwan: Startup Ecosystem in Taiwan

One of the many ways to get noticed is to have people talking about your company or product. Influencer marketing does just the job! Curious about how influencer marketing works and how you can optimize this marketing tactic? Come join this workshop!

Link to Zoom meeting will be sent to you by email 2 or 3 working days before the workshop.
If you haven’t received it, please make sure that PI Centre is on your safe senders list and double-check your spam/junk email inbox.

A monthly dose of art: Prof Winton Au advocates performing arts via social entrepreneurship

“I wasn’t this outgoing a decade ago – now I’m even younger than before!” Prof Winton Au of CUHK Department of Psychology chuckles. His secret to becoming young again? Nothing magical, “just engaging in performing arts, really. I underwent a transformation from being shy to being assured, then bold.” His high spirits are palpable and contagious.

A Hongkonger born and bred, Winton went to the USA in 1989 for his undergraduate studies. He joined CUHK in 1997 after obtaining a PhD in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “happened to be these two particular years.” He isn’t lecturing us on psychology today though – we are intrigued by his peculiar choice of “extra-curricular activities”. This obviously includes One Month One Art (1M1A), the social enterprise he founded with Ribble Chung (theatre veteran/Arts Administrator at CUHK).

The One Month One Art team – officer Jackie Chan, a fresh CUHK graduate (left); CUHK Arts Administrator Ribble Chung (middle); Prof Winton Au from CUHK Department of Psychology (right). (Photo: SoCUBE)
“Ruling out zi wei dou shu and face-reading…”

Whereas Ribble showed an affinity for arts since a young age, Winton stumbled across the field at a later juncture.

“It was 2006. I was hunting for hobbies – even things like zi wei dou shu (Chinese astrology) and face-reading, anything but psychology.” That was his ninth year teaching at CUHK. His research focuses on industrial-organisational (IO) psychology, i.e. psychological applications in workplaces, “the personality and aptitude tests you take at job interviews are developed by us IO psychologists.”

Joking that it was his midlife crisis, he intentionally looked for a new pastime beyond his roles as professor and consultant – ideally something entirely unrelated. “Are you sure drama and psychology are unrelated?” Ribble chimes in with a laugh. “Well, I couldn’t make the connection at first.” As Winton’s commitment towards his newfound interest bloomed, he began researching psychology in the context of theatre.

“Chanced across an acting course at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) and applied for it. I brought a notebook in my first class, turned out we had to take our shoes off and run around the entire time.” His first theatre teacher was the famous Chan Wing Chuen, a first-batch graduate at HKAPA.

Winton took part in pedagogue Philippe Gaulier’s workshop in France, 2012. (Photo provided by Prof Winton Au)
True colours shining through

Winton took multiple courses under Chan Wing Chuen, on top of furthering his skills in France and the USA. He stresses that he learned more about appreciating theatre and communicating with his inner self than acting techniques.

“As a professor and consultant, I need my emotional state relatively stable. Practising drama prompts me to be more genuine and loyal to my feelings. So, I used to be reserved, later confident, now bold; it was a distinct evolution.”

What started as self-entertainment became an integral part of his job in 2014. “Chan Kin Bun (ex-Executive Director of Hong Kong Repertory Theatre) was eager to support my research on audience experience.” Having chatted with various troupes and around 30 theatre personnel, he found the industry’s greatest wish to simply be having a live audience. This sparked the idea of founding a cross-troupe promotional platform.

“Everyone underscores the need for such a platform, but nobody initiates. In that case, let us!” The plan was in the making for a few years; the team eventually received support from the Sustainable Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (S-KPF) to set up social enterpriseOne Month One Art this March.

Winton confesses to have been significantly transformed by theatre, hence his eagerness to promote this art form. (Photo: SoCUBE)

“Theatre is a process of enlightenment.”

“I was gonna call it ‘One Month One Drama’, but Ribble proposed to broaden ‘Drama’ into ‘Art’. We often hear an apple a day, eight glasses of water daily, a weekly Green Monday – why not an art each month then?” Finishing his sentence in one breath, the energetic Winton turns towards Ribble.

A seasoned arts administrator, Ribble has experience as programme director and excels at actualising ideas. For 1M1A’s inaugural docent training programme, the duo turned to friendly names across the industry and designed 18 workshops on theatre development, operations, genres and stage aesthetics. They wish to train drama enthusiasts as docents who would drive the culture of art appreciation in the long run.

“Theatre is not only a show – through the art, you ponder questions about the society and yourself. It is an enlightenment process.” Ribble has been enchanted by performing arts since small; she played drama in secondary school, studied stage design at university in the UK, and has worked in the field since returning to Hong Kong. She travels pretty much for the sole purpose of art appreciation, “there’s a fire in my heart,” she confirms her unwavering passion.

Ribble believes that arts and aesthetic education encourage self-acceptance in children and their appreciation of uniqueness in each person. (Photo: SoCUBE) 

Ribble first encountered Winton “on stage”.

“I’ve watched ALL works you had a part in, only three, no?” Ribble laughs.

“I had other smaller performances!” Winton protests. Which of those is the most memorable then?

Ribble commends Oleanna (written by American playwright David Mamet) in which Winton once starred. The play portrays a professor (played by Winton) who’s accused of sexual harassment by his female student; each stuck to their own version. “Brilliant! Only two characters throughout, both with convincing arguments. What an impressive script!”

Winton was the protagonist for Oleanna in 2014. (Photo provided by Prof Winton Au)
“Hong Kong is not a cultural desert, but a spiritual one.”

While Winton delights in being his other self on stage, Ribble occupies herself at the backstage. “Unlike him, I have little desire to perform.” She has taken up various roles in the industry, “been employed in the Arts Development Council, also elected a Council Member before.” The two-fold experiences equipped her with a more comprehensive grasp of the ecosystem.

She is straightforward about the shape of the local industry. “One show, a budget of several tens of thousands, while actors are underpaid, earning maybe twenty to thirty thousand over two months. Many work multiple jobs to support themselves; this worsens amid the epidemic.” The plight hasn’t cropped up only this year or two. At the end of the day, it is the society’s overemphasis on money as an indicator of success.

“Hong Kong is not a cultural desert, just a spiritual one. It is to do with the society’s value system. Kids are paid to learn painting and instruments, though how many parents are supportive of them taking on such careers, worried if they could make a living? (which sadly is a legitimate concern). It’s been the same for too many decades.” Ribble illustrates the disheartening vicious cycle, though stressing that there are still many passionate people joining her ranks. While reality may be harsh, hope is not lost.

How may a healthy ecosystem be nurtured? Ribble deems childhood education of essence. “Take the UK as an example. Kids have plenty of exposure to arts; families see orchestral and theatrical performances as grand occasions to partake in. I have participated in an inter-county children’s arts festival in the USA. It was hugely supported by governments and schools alike, full of dances, drama and musical performances, even kids’ storytelling sessions. I absolutely enjoyed my time there as an adult.”

1M1A’s inaugural programme; each session is hosted by a master in his or her speciality. The whole course cost HK$3,000 and was almost immediately full upon its launch. (Figure: 1M1A)
Instilling the habit

Remoulding value systems and cultures take time; the most urgent question art groups need answering is how to draw audiences. Winton reveals 1M1A’s promotion strategy, “the docent programme expands two tiers of audiences – those interested in performing arts to begin with, and their friends who are unfamiliar with these art forms.”

The author took part in a session hosted by composer Lau Wing Tao, during which he played a clip from his recent work A Tale of the Southern Sky . The soul-stirring music, sound effects and story excerpt almost urged me to get a ticket right away. While I scrolled on my phone in search of drama recommendations, others took notes attentively. Some were reporters, others teachers, social workers, as well as actors and backstage staff. One even quitted her job at a bank to study screenwriting.

A session in 1M1A’s docent course hosted by Lau Wing Tao, whereas Winton acted as course coordinator, giving participants lifts into and out of CUHK on top of taking pics. (Photo: SoCUBE) 

“Over 60 registrants, including someone from Macau; we took in around 20.” Ribble attributes the satisfactory response to Jackie, 1M1A’s recent full-time hire who just graduated from CUHK’s cultural management programme. “‘Cos we’ve invited many masters, and they each got their fan base,” Jackie explains shyly.

Besides training courses, Winton’s team is planning to design an app where audience members may collect points for joining art events and redeem prizes. “Some funding support would be great!”

【Scholarly keyword】Psychology of theatre

“The influence of arts is eventually about personal growth.” Specialised in audience experience, Winton lists four dimensions in analysing audience reception – emotional resonance, cognitive stimulation, sensational excitement, and collective experience. “Why visit a theatre instead of watching the show on DVD? Because you get to share the experience as a group.”

Entrepreneurs in the Greater Bay Area Recounting 40 Years of Shenzhen Miracle Agenda

STEM kickoff ceremony

Legal Series: Essential Tips on Contracts for Start-up Business

Contracts are essential to the daily operations of a company, helping to maintain trust and good cooperation between different parties. Want to learn more on what a valid contract requires and liability? Come join this workshop now!

CUEA Happy Hour


中大創業者聯盟「Happy Hour」第二輪第七場的實體講座,由中大創業校友會邀得iSTEM AI Lab的聯合創辦人兼CEO陳基志校友Eagle(00逸夫計算機工程),分享他建立STEM教育平台的經歷,並提醒創業者在疫情下的Dos and Don’ts,教各創業中大人如何轉「危」為「機」。

Legal Series: Company Practice

Want to know what the process is for incorporating a company in Hong Kong, and how corporate finance works? Don’t miss out on this webinar cohosted by CUHK New Ventures Legal Team and PI Centre!

CUEA Happy Hour


Sustainable Knowledge Transfer Project Fund Info Session

Join us on the movement to transform business into a force for good!

Sustainable Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (S-KPF) is now calling for proposals and in our upcoming sharing session. Prof Catherine So and Dr Elsie Tsui will discuss their thoughts on transforming research expertise into building a socially-conscious business. Our team will guide you through the funding process and provide tips on application. Join us!

Sustainable Communities Lab for People’s Multifaceted Well-being Workshop III

The built environment affects people’s sense of place and sense of well-being. The “Sustainable Communities Lab for People’s Multifaceted Well-being” project by CUHK aims to enhance community champions’ literacy and practical skills in making ecological and humane urban spaces, in order to build sustainable communities and cities where people have a great sense of belonging and multifaceted well-being.

In this 【Design Thinking Lab】, the project team will introduce the Design Thinking Framework, and talk about how we can apply the framework into community planning in every stage – from defining problem to developing sustainable solutions. Our guest presenters will also share their experience on initiating and conducting community placemaking projects. We welcome district councillors and place champions to join our workshop and co-create possible “three-in-one” solutions that can promote environmental, social, and economic aspects in different communities.



The Vice Chancellor’s Cup of Student Entrepreneurship – VCCE Pitch day 2020

Project Themes
  • Smart Living
  • Smart Health
  • Any Viable Business Idea
Who Can Attend
  • All CUHK student, alumni & friends. Whether you are in the business, engineering science or arts. If you are interested to kick start your ideas & businesses, then pitch the idea to a panel of judges.
  • A team of at least one CUHK member.
Prizes & Internship Awards
  • Champion: HK$10,000
  • 1st Runner:  HK$7,000
  • 2nd Runner:  HK$5,000
  • Up to  HK$50,000 / team. Enable the teams to implement the first phase of their project under mentorship. Current CUHK students are entitled to receive Internship Awards.

CUEA Happy Hour

AI 喺香港有無得做?


第二輪第五場的中大創業者聯盟「Happy Hour」實體講座,由校友評議會創新創業小組邀得柏拉美有限公司創始人兼CEO吳德川校友(03新亞計算機工程),分享他十多年來在世界各地創立多間電子商務及軟件初創公司的經驗,並介紹不同創業資源、資金渠道等,助中大人在創業路上把握近年來數碼化趨勢帶來的機遇。

Shareholding Issues Founders Need to Know

Shareholding issues can be hard to understand for startup founders. Want to learn more about the technicalities of shareholding and what you should take note of? Don’t miss out on this webinar!

CUEA Happy Hour

一個中五離校的17歲青年,離開學校接近半年,透過一個連接教育與就業的培訓,成功入職原本只聘請大學生的職位,亦令僱主重新反思聘請人才的準則。完成教育直接就業,很多時候學歷都會是僱主篩選求職者的重要考慮。但近年學歷膨脹所帶來的人才錯配,非大學畢業生又何去何從?沒有高學歷又是否沒出路?這次我們邀請了Generation的行政總裁鄭浩維校友(Brian Cheng),分享他由就職教育機構到創業的經歷,希望透過不同界別的合作,拉闊社會對成功及人才的定義。

Cyberport Entrepreneurship Programme Briefing Session

Want to learn about the latest trends in innovation and entrepreneurship and what support Cyberport can provide you on your startup journey? Then don’t miss out on this briefing session! Cyberport’s Entrepreneurship Team will be introducing to us the entrepreneurial support and programs available for entrepreneurs.

Register NOW!

– Latest trend of innovation and entrepreneurship
– Introduction and application tips of Cyberport Entrepreneurship Programmes*;
– Cyberport other support services on entrepreneurship
– Q&A session

*Several entrepreneurship programmes will be open for applications in mid-Oct, including:

(1)   Cyberport Greater Bay Area Young Entrepreneurship Programme (Cyberport GBA YEP) (Application deadline: 4 Dec 2020)

The programme provides all-round support, including an entrepreneurship boot camp, mentorship and up to HK$1,000,000 funding, to the youths aged in 18-30 in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong region to kick start their ideas and businesses, allowing them to unleash their potential and lay the foundation for start-up success in Greater Bay Area as well as exploring global business opportunities.
*Will be conducted in Cantonese*

(2)   Cyberport Creative Micro Fund (HK Programme) (Application deadline: 1 Dec 2020)

The programme provides HK$100,000 cash grant to turn your idea into prototype for proof of concept.

(3)   Cyberport Incubation Programme (Application deadline: 1 Dec 2020)

The programme provides up to HK$500,000 financial assistance with a range of business and professional services to accelerate your business growth.

Knowledge Transfer Project Fund Info Session

Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (KPF) is now calling for proposals! Come join our information session to find out more about what is social innovation, how to create social values and some key updates on the funding scheme from our team.

2020 CUHK Conference on Financial Technology

This conference is in the 4th Fintech Education Series, which aims to promote financial technology education in town. This event is part of the core agenda of the HK FinTech Week 2020, Asia’s most anticipated international financial technology event, looking to bring together more than 25,000 executives, entrepreneurs, investors, regulators and academics from 70+ economies. We would like to take advantage of this opportunity to bring together the academia and industry participants, providing a platform to carry out fruitful and productive discussions, encourage the exchange of ideas and promote future collaboration opportunities.

2020 marks a very special year in the academia as well as the industry. COVID-19 has disrupted people’s lives in many different ways. With social distancing, virtual classes have been put in place in universities. Business meetings have been held online due to travel restrictions. As we stand together to fight COVID-19, we see an all-win situation in bridging the University and the industry together. It is beneficial for the students to widen their exposure and have more interactions with the industry. Faculties can share their research results and seek partnership with fintech corporations. Industry practitioners can leverage on the forefront research to take their fintech business some steps further.

CUEA Happy Hour



讓我們一起走進「Happy Hour」第二輪創業訪談系列第八回線上活動,聽聽他們淺談學院派的創業之路。

“Cultural differences stand for fun!” Innovation 101 with social entrepreneurship pundit Dr Elsie Tsui

“It’s increasingly evident that the social impact created by social-minded corporates can be as powerful as that by the NGOs.” In her neat executive outfit, Dr Elsie Tsui details her days traversing the commercial, social welfare and academic fields at the freshly open-for-business CUHK InnoPort.

She toiled considerable years in the business world – shortly after graduating from CUHK Sociology, she studied MBA at the University of Cambridge, then spearheaded the Public Affairs and Communications function at Greater China division of The Coca-Cola Company for eight years, before working at the Europe and Asia offices of innovation consultancy ?What If! Innovation Partner (now under Accenture). Having joined the academia for half a decade, she’s keen on introducing good business practices to students, while calling for companies to attach greater importance to social values.

Embrace multi-cultures

With copious experiences diagnosing enterprises at her past jobs, she is well-versed with many brand stories, especially those in her beloved fashion industry. Intriguingly, what got her talking today turn out to be two other buzzwords with which she has become fascinated for the past ten years – innovation and social impact.

Elsie even did research on local social enterprises for her doctoral thesis. Currently one of CUHK’s advocates for “business for good”, she has been the Project Director of Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge (HKSEC) for five years, teaches social entrepreneurship at CUHK Business School, and in this September, joined the Office of Research and Knowledge Transfer Services (ORKTS) as Head of Social Innovation, working towards a systematic channelling of university knowledge outputs to the society to create social impact.


A CUHK alumna, Dr Elsie Tsui divulges her single regret – not making the most out of her school life. “Too busy having fun elsewhere and playing in my band.” (Photo: SoCUBE)

Born in Thailand, Elsie spent a few years of her childhood in Taiwan and Singapore before settling in Hong Kong at the age of five. Since finishing her studies, she has worked in Shanghai and London. “I moved from one country to another many times, and had to attune to varying languages and cultures in the process. It could possibly be the reason for my resilience to culture shock!” Her unique upbringing contributed to her poise within a bustling, multinational corporate environment. “Cultural differences mean fun! I’d like to know why others think in certain ways.”

Going in for social enterprises

Her eyes gleam with satisfaction as she shares her days in the private sector. What then piqued her interest towards social enterprises, that she even did a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) on the topic?

She confesses to having been interested in the subject matter back when she took care of corporate social responsibility at Coca-Cola China, though the moment of “enlightenment” dawned on her when she became a Consultant for ?What If! Innovation.

“I was based in London back then, and a few colleagues took up a pro bono project in collaboration with an NGO. They were tasked with – via innovative means – calling for a ban of a malign practice, female circumcision in Africa.” Using design thinking, the team put forward proposals that, on the one hand, win over the tribal chief and preserve their culture, and on the other, fulfil the needs of modern development. One of the ideas involved airing the voices of victims through pop songs, “playing them day and night, prompting public discourse.”

“We had to be cautious though – not to approach it entirely from a western perspective, and neglect their cultural heritage. So, we discussed with the chief (the “empathise” phase in design thinking) to understand the values behind this custom, and the possibility of replacing circumcision with other practices.” Despite her confident demeanour, Elsie highlights the reality of personal blind spots, “don’t get convinced that others are utterly wrong and you are perfectly right.”


In its 13th year, the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge commences as scheduled amid the epidemic. (Photo: HKSEC)

Pioneering education on social innovation

Roaming across the planet for years, she started paving the way home in 2012 for “work and life balance”. Besides doing a DBA at Grenoble School of Management, France, she took the helm of the HKSEC project at CUHK Center for Entrepreneurship (CfE) in 2015. Renowned names as Green PriceWEDO GLOBALKaifong Tour and lensational have all undergone the Challenge and its training.

“Discussion surrounding the concept of social enterprise heated up in around 2000, when the government released funding to NGOs, mainly for the purpose of promoting work integration social enterprises. CfE believes that any genre of entrepreneurship is worth supporting. Entrepreneurial education not only nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit, but also instils a sense of empathy to fathom the society’s wants, especially those with special needs.” Elsie describes the competition as a cradle to new-born social enterprises.

CfE launched the intercollegiate competition back in 2007, receiving funding support from the Home Affairs Bureau starting the following year. It has already evolved into an accelerator for social start-ups. Though starting businesses may not be for everyone, developing an entrepreneurial mindset is of benefit to all.

Elsie recounts running into an HKSEC “alumnus” at an event hosted by a multinational bank, “He didn’t win the Challenge; neither did he reckon he’s suited to the life of an entrepreneur. But going through the whole process, he recognised that even if he’s working for a corporate, he would opt for one that creates social value. Eventually, he joined the CSR department of that bank.” She lists a few more youth leaders invited by the government to join advisory committees, substantiating the “impact” of education on social entrepreneurship.


In the course of the Challenge, participants have access to ample training and networking opportunities, proven instrumental even to those who didn’t end up on the start-up track. (Photo: HKSEC)

As a new term kicks off this September, in addition to HKSEC and teaching, has Elsie set any targets in her new role (as Head of Social Innovation at ORKTS)?

One of her goals is to deepen the impact of the existing schemes, KPF and S-KPF, two funding schemes that support CUHK scholars to transform their academic knowledge into tangible impact in the community. Professors may put their applied research to the test for market potential with the former, whereas the latter entitles them to set up social enterprises that further the impact of academic outputs in a broader setting.

“Knowledge transfer as a way to create social values is a global trend – many universities are deliberating about ways to transform research into tangible impact.” Over the past weeks, she and her team kept meeting up with funded professor teams, practising the first step of design thinking – empathise (deep, understanding of the users).

“I’m also eager to invite internationally eminent social innovators as entrepreneurs-in-residence to inspire CUHK members, while facilitating cross-sector collaboration to co-create social impact. I would like to document the best practices of successful knowledge transfer activities too.”


Elsie maintains that making contact with different cultures sparks innovative thinking. (Photo: HKSEC)

Experiences and findings

Towards the end of our chat, Elsie shares her observations on the local and global social entrepreneurial ecosystems.

“In the past, close to 80% of social enterprises in Hong Kong are operated by NGOs. Recently, we are seeing in the playing field more individuals without prior experience in social welfare, both young and retired persons. Nonetheless, social enterprises here are often focused only on the local market with limited scalability. On the contrary, take the French Groupe SOS as an example, they are huge in scale with a variety of diverse businesses, even got their own social enterprise accelerator, and with branches in other countries.”

She advises Hongkongers to broaden their horizon and get to know social issues elsewhere; this could contribute to both personal growth and starting up. “Hong Kong is relatively monocultural. The less youngsters go beyond the territory, the more they are reluctant to step out of their comfort zones; the less they understand other cultures, the less interested they end up being. That’s potentially a vicious cycle.”

Define innovation!

“While many relate innovation to technology, that’s not always the case. It could be a business model or management model innovation.” How would she suggest putting innovation into practice? She recommends the ?What If! equation, “insight + idea + impact. Insight means knowing the needs of your users inside out and pinning their pain points down. The proposed idea should precisely answer the issue and generate actual impact.”

Boosting our innovative capacities – the dos and don’ts

“Avoid being negative and constantly kill others’ ideas, such as by saying ‘don’t do this and that’… unduly cynical people are hardly innovative. It’s not only about competence, but also perspective and attitude. Perspective takes time to groom though.” She encourages the younger generation to increase their exposure to foreign media and culture, starting from topics that appeal to them. “For example, I’m interested in the fashion industry and watch loads of relevant videos online. Besides discovering more about the subject, you also come to know more about the KOLs’ cultural backgrounds – and learn something unexpected!”

(Photo: National Cancer Institute / Unsplash)
【Scholarly keyword】Creative tension

Elsie put it plainly, “overly cynical people who like killing others’ ideas – ‘don’t do this and that’ – they do no good to innovation.” Still, she points out that an appropriate amount of creative tension could be beneficial.

Mark Batson Baril, “expert” in workplace conflict, defined the term as “constructive” conflict that “brings on the kind of tension that sparks excitement, conversation and creativity”. He also listed several conditions that kill creative tension – fear of failure, eroding trust, lack of safety and groupthink. If a member in the group feels distrusted or fears rejection, the potential for innovation would be stifled.

Entrepreneur Corner: Rice Robotics

Language: Cantonese
科技日新月異,唔少簡單嘅任務例如送貨,巡邏及消毒空氣等等都可以交俾自動化機械人去完成。由一個電影橋段,變成現實中見到嘅產品,有無諗過當中嘅研發過程係點樣?研發公司又係點樣經營?想知多啲,就唔好錯過嚟緊由PI Centre嘅暢談創業啦!當日我哋請嚟Rice Robotics創辦人及行政總裁Victor Lee同我哋分享佢研發配送機器人Rice同埋消毒機器人Jasmine,仲有佢創立Rice Robotics嘅創業旅程!

Automated robots patrolling and doing tasks such as delivery is an increasing trend these days. Have you ever wondered about the beginnings of companies that provide these solutions? Then don’t miss out on our upcoming Entrepreneur Corner, where we have invited Mr. Victor Lee, Founder and CEO of Rice Robotics for a fireside chat on his entrepreneurial journey!


About Rice Robotics

Rice Robotics主要研發自主機器人,並為新世代企業提供策略性的變革。公司研發的全自動機器人可以自行操作電梯、旋轉門,充電,並於人流密集的區域進行導航。Rice Robotics主要為香港、日本和泰國地區進行研發:配送機器人Rice和消毒機器人Jasmine。

At Rice Robotics, we are building the infrastructure for next-generation corporates to deploy fleets of robots. Our robots are autonomous and can operate elevators and turnstiles, charge, and navigate in crowded areas without help. Rice, our delivery robot, and Jasmine, our disinfection robot, are freeing up employees to focus on more meaningful tasks in Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand.


Register NOW!

Link to Zoom meeting will be sent to you by email 2 or 3 working days before the workshop.
If you haven’t received it, please make sure that PI Centre is on your safe senders list and double-check your spam/junk email inbox.


講者簡介 About the Speaker

Victor Lee是Rice Robotics創辦人及行政總裁,也是Gogovan的創始成員。 他不但止係中大校友,亦都係加州大學柏克萊分校畢業,並在產品開發和工業設計領域擁有7年以上的經驗。

Victor is the Founder & CEO of Rice Robotics, and a Founding Member of Gogovan. He pursued his studies UC Berkeley and Chinese University of Hong Kong and has 7+ YRS exp in Product Development and Industrial Design.


主持簡介 About the Moderator 

司徒冠豐先生畢業於香港中文大學。在修讀機械與自動化工程學士期間,以自動化飲品製作機原型作為其畢業專題,並以此原型參加PI Centre的創業育成計劃。於畢業後與其他中大校友創辦「柯圖科技」。「柯圖科技」致力開發全自動台式飲品方案,透過結合自動化機械、人工智能以及物聯網的技術,慕求將整個製作材料、沖製客製化飲品以及銷售和管理過程都自動化,從而省卻傳統商業模式的人力成本。

While pursuing his undergraduate studies at CUHK in Mechanical and Automation Engineering, Jerry worked on an automated drink barista prototype, which he then brought into PI Centre for commercialization. Upon graduation, with 3 other CUHK Alumni, he established Automated Technologies Corporation (Hong Kong) Limited and is working on their project, The AuLaitino.

Automated Technologies is currently developing an automated Taiwanese style drinks solution. Combining robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things, the company strives to automate the entire process of processing ingredients, mixing custom Taiwanese drinks, management, and sales.

En voyage to mental wellness: Prof Fiona Ho and students champion low-barrier services

“Why would you see a doctor when you’ve caught the flu, but not when your heart is ‘sick’?” Prof Fiona Ho of CUHK Department of Psychology and her students Vincent Wong and Eliz Lam fill us in at InnoPort about their newly founded social enterprise Wellness Travellers, as well as ranting about the stigmatisation and marginalisation of mental issues.

Surely the question they posed cannot be simply answered. Before drilling down into the serious bit, we warm up with the cosy trio.

In stark contrast to the stereotypical professor-student combo, Fiona easily blends in with her students – be it style or speech. The zestful professor even appears more like a student than the other two, often unveiling her witty side and leaving everyone roaring in laughter.

A steep climb in academic pursuit

Becoming Assistant Professor at such a young age – an elite student she must be? That is, in fact, not quite the case.

“I was in the remedial class for almost every subject in Form 5. Didn’t fare well in the science stream – failed both Chemistry and A. Maths. The school had half given me up and stopped teaching me, only ordering me to recite every single sentence, commas included.” We barely took our seat before Fiona starts merrily revealing her “scars”, openly recounting her bumpy ride. If you have just been through the torture of public exams, her story is good news – your fate is not sealed by one test.

Despite taking the long way, she made it into university after her associate degree and studied psychology, as she found it “quite interesting”. She eventually obtained her doctorate degree from the University of Hong Kong, becoming an expert in sleep disturbances and low-intensity psychological interventions.

A dramatic coming from behind – while most take years to complete their postgraduate studies, Fiona did hers in superman speed.

“It’s forced.” She explains how she started her PhD with a Specialization in Clinical Psychology right after her MPhil, thus getting exempted for a year. Within three years she finished her clinical psychology training and practice that usually takes two years, then wrapping up her thesis in the last year.

Says a lot about her mastery in stress management.


The precious bonding among the three is evident. (Photo: SoCUBE)

Figuring out their bearings

“My background is similar to that of Vincent.” Fiona turns the tables around and goes on “interviewing” her students/partners. “He was a rebellious student, who would have thought he’d do a PhD!” She points at the gentleman next to her, cueing him to share his soap opera-like experience, which got him fixated on the promotion and research of community mental health.

The young Vincent paid no heed to studying. Having maybe a little too much energy, he once climbed atop a bridge and accidentally fell on his back, winding up unconscious, “the doc told my mum that it came down to my will whether I pulled through that night. It’s like the typical TV scene.” This not only made him a news figure, but also left him with psychological trauma that prompted him to seek help from a clinical psychologist.

So happens that this isn’t the last time he confronts mental issues head-on. During his tertiary studies, he volunteered in a “Hong Kong depression index survey”, inviting residents near Yau Tong Estate to take part. “I approached a pavilion and chatted with a lady. She fished her phone out and showed me a pic of a pill case, asking if I could check what drug it was.”

Turns out the mother retrieved the case in secret from the garbage bin in her son’s room. “I looked it up – it was an anti-depressant,” recalls Vincent, “It was a bolt from the blue; the question to which she was afraid to find the answer has been on her mind for over a year. At the end, the lady sought help from the social worker on duty and received appropriate support.” It was then he made up his mind to pursue psychology. He is particularly eager to get in touch with the community, promoting mental health and resilience of the public.

His target coincides with that of Fiona, on top of their similarity in life experiences, no wonder they make great friends who engage in much verbal sparring and playful banter. Following her PhD graduation, Fiona was shortly employed at the Education University of Hong Kong before joining CUHK in 2017. Vincent also began his PhD studies in CUHK’s Department of Psychology after his master’s degree.

“Eliz (current MSSc Clinical Psychology student at CUHK) is the polar opposite – she’s a top student! Studied economics and business, got a job at Big 4 (accounting firms), then worked in a bank. One day she gave that all up to study psychology!” Fiona so describes the reserved girl next to her.

Even so, Eliz had her frustrations. She may have secured an enviable position upon graduation, yet somehow, she felt something wasn’t right. “Started to look for my direction; so jealous of those with a passion. I wanted to do something that fires me with enthusiasm. Work takes up such a large portion of life, you know.” She recalls the days when she was at a loss – not that long ago, in fact.

Despite the mismatch in values, she wasn’t in a hurry to quit her job. Instead, she volunteered and took short-term psychology courses. Soon enough, she made up her mind to do a full-time MA in Psychology.

Earning an MA doesn’t guarantee a spot in clinical psychology (CP) though, not to mention getting the professional qualification – the programme is extremely competitive. The University of Hong Kong and CUHK together only take in 38 students per year. “There are only 500 to 600 CPs across the territory,” Fiona makes plain the extreme local shortage of professional psychological services.

“Those getting into CP are few, but the investment is high. Yet she (Eliz) went for it – says a lot about her determination!” commends Fiona.

“All thanks to Fiona’s encouragement and support that I’m able to study CP now,” Eliz softly conveys her gratefulness, as Fiona fakes clearing her nose, flipping the warm-and-fuzzy conversation into hearty laughter.


The three shared memories at the famous Devonport after attending an international conference in New Zealand. (Photo: Interviewee)

Psychology in action

Fiona divulges that two years ago, the idea of starting a social enterprise already formed in her and Eliz’s heads. There was a day when they just stood on the busy Fo Tan MTR platform, discussing for over an hour “what kind of sleep centre Hong Kong would need”.

“A centre dedicated to sleep – while community insomnia is ubiquitous, it can be improved via psychological intervention in place of drugs. Our minds went wild – it would be perfect to have a café, where everyone can come ‘tick tick tick’ (boxes on questionnaires). Then we recommend them great floral teas, and peer support groups.” Eliz excitedly illustrates the blueprint of their business.

“For sure, we left it hanging,” and they parted ways until two years later, when they got to know the very entrepreneurial Karen, a psychology alumna. Complementing each other’s strengths, they took the first step towards actualising their idea.

“Karen took the course Psychology in Action; she was among the few who submitted their homework and did act on their business plan,” Fiona admits that her decision to go forward is attributable to Karen agreeing to take care of the commercial part.

The team was eventually awarded funding by the CUHK Sustainable Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (S-KPF), setting up social enterprise Wellness Travellers, transforming their research into “digestible, low-barrier” but evidence-based mental health services and activities. They strive to help those interested in enhancing their mental wellbeing, and those distressed by general emotional issues.


Besides psychological topics, we all got excited when discussing felines. (Photo: SoCUBE)

Calling for the UK semi-pro model

“One of the setbacks with Hong Kong’s psychological services is a mismatch in resources!” Fiona explains that not many could afford a 45-minute CP appointment that sets one back HK$1,500 to 2,000. Moreover, low-intensity therapies suffice for the mild anxiety or depression symptoms from which most suffer.

“Low-intensity psychological interventions offered by PWPs (psychological wellbeing practitioners) trained by our Department of Psychology would be perfect in this situation. Takes around six to ten 30-minute sessions; a lot more affordable.” This PWP system has been initiated by the British government and implemented for years – an excellent fit for the local medical system too.

To popularise mental health services, Wellness Travellers also offers night, video and phone counselling options. They are also organising a series of evidence-based lifestyle medicine workshops and groups, promoting whole-person well-being while boosting the public’s resilience as a form of prevention.

“We’ve got sleep, diet, exercise, stress management, Chinese medicine conditioning groups, and more.” Vincent adds that some are more like hobby classes for weekend getaways, “Zentangle and forest bathing are in the greatest demand; the quota fills up upon launching.” They repeatedly make the point that according to literature, lifestyle significantly impacts our mental wellbeing, and the abovementioned integrated interventions are proven to be effective.

The team is committed to elevating the accessibility of psychological services, while eliminating the stigma on mental disorders. The message is loud and clear: We shouldn’t shy away from seeking external help for mental illnesses, in the same way as physical maladies. Wellness Travellers is a timely beacon of hope to the “tsunami” of mental health issues in our times.

To reinforce their professional image, Fiona and Vincent will be taking the Board Certification in Lifestyle Medicine offered by the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine this November. As for their business model, they are focusing on B2B, since a lot of workplaces are the worst hit in terms of mental health. Each team member has their distinct role – Karen is in charge of marketing and operations, Vincent is responsible for the intervention development, Eliz is the treasurer, while two other members Timmy (current CUHK MSSc in Clinical Psychology student) and Cherry (current CUHK psychology student) take care of promotion and administrative work. And Fiona? Besides idea generator, likely the booze supplier.

“Workouts” for your mental strength

Towards the end of our chat, our three interviewees each recommends a book. May you all find some consolation and resonances in these difficult times.

《成為彼此的聆聽者》(Chinese only) by StoryTaler

Fiona: “This book teaches one the art of listening. I’ve heard loads of helpless voices saying, ‘my friend is going through this and that, but I don’t know what to say.’ We are often too eager to respond while overlooking actual listening. I used to distribute to my students listening skill cards I bought from StoryTaler, now you can simply learn from this book.”

The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris

Eliz: “I was doing my MA and applying for CP programmes; not a single interview opportunity landed.” It was obviously hard to take in, “and this book helped me weather the situation. The author utilises ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) advocated by the “third wave”, underlining the recognition of one’s life goal as the first step. In the face of difficulties, think about what can be done in line with your target, and what are out of your control which you should learn to accept.”

Mind Fixers by Annie Harrington

Vincent: “The author is a historian that studies mental health. Her book delineates the close correlations between psychological wellbeing and various environmental factors, which we should consider when seeking improvement for our mental health. One of the factors is, of course, lifestyle. It prodded me to reflect on the current services in Hong Kong, as well as the importance of promoting lifestyle changes and mental wellbeing in the community.”

(Photo: Unsplash)
【Scholarly keyword】Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

During our interview, the three often mention common psychological therapies, including BT, CBT and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). When she hit rock bottom, Eliz found comfort in The Happiness Trap – a book centred upon ACT.

According to Psychology Today, ACT suggests that when faced with distress, instead of “controlling” your pain, it is better to learn “accepting” these strong emotions by understanding the reasons behind these reactions. Then, practise mindfulness that focuses on the present, and concentrate on actions that agree with your personal values. “In other words, live your life under those constraints,” explains Vincent.

【BUSINESS 2.0】Tech B Corps|Travel bubble

Tech B Corps|The Netherlands


Headquartered in the Netherlands, WeTransfer is a well-known company offering file transfer services. As many as a billion files are reportedly transferred among 195 countries or regions via their platform. This June, the company announced its status as a certified B Corp – alongside over 3,000 corporates, they are recognised for their efforts in human resources (staff and customers), community and environment-relevant policies.

Originated from the US, B Corp is a much-discussed business model that emphasises both shareholder interests and multidimensional societal impact. Towards the end of last year, The Guardian also became the first mainstream media to be accredited.



Travel bubble|Hong Kong

Amid the pandemic, the global travel industry went through a silent spring and was forced to develop “inwards”. In May, the Baltic states became the first interconnected “travel bubble” within the European Union. While this has yet to be realised between Hong Kong and other regions, the “Hello Hong Kong. Holiday at home.” platform was launched in June to encourage “staycations”.

Indeed, most Hongkongers might be “coming home” to Japan and Taiwan every year, while seldom setting foot on the other side of the harbour or unfrequented corners of the territory. Social enterprise Walk In Hong Kong recently initiated a “Rewalking Hong Kong” series. Join these themed walking tours with special guests and celebrities, and get to know our city in a way you’ve never experienced before!

Building a city and the community from within: Prof Ng Mee Kam’s take on urban planning

“Whereas (the spirit of) Below the Lion Rock is made up, stories atop Ma On Shan are real.” Setting foot in Prof Ng Mee Kam’s office, we are greeted by warm rays wafting through the windows and bookcases in three directions. To further warm us up, Mee Kam fervently describes this mining village – topic of the video conference she had before meeting us. Rich in historical, cultural and educational resources, Ma On Shan Village once thrived with iron ore production, with a peak population of 7,000.

“(The mining village) exemplifies the true Hong Kong spirit. (In mid-20th century) Catholic and Protestant churches served the mountain inhabitants – underprivileged these villagers may be, but content nonetheless.” In one-and-a-half hour, she speaks of childhood anecdotes, city planning, placemaking and well-being, her musical laughter pervading our conversation.

Professor of the Department of Geography and Resources Management and Associate Director of the Institute of Future Cities at CUHK, Mee Kam keeps close tabs on sustainable development of cities, as well as people’s multifaceted well-being.

Enabled by CUHK’s Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (KPF) this year, her project “Sustainable Communities Lab for People’s Multifaceted Well-being” invites district councillors and interested public members to learn concepts of sustainable communities, and design places that will boost the well-being of their residents (the second workshop is scheduled on 15 August).

Mental health and well-being – both recent buzzwords, though Mee Kam points out that urban planning seldom touches upon the well-being of individuals, “social workers concern themselves with what community dwellers prefer, but the language planners speak goes something like ‘at least 1 to 5,000’. They mean maps.”

Prof Ng Mee Kam, Prof Winnie Mak, social worker Dr Wong Oi Ling and artist Amy Cheung consolidated results of their project “Nourishing a Life of Dignity” into a book. (Photo: SoCUBE)

Advocating “human flourishing” across disciplines

Mee Kam studied geography for her bachelor’s degree at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), pinning onto harbour and airport developments during her doctoral studies in the USA. How did she bridge her expertise with the concept of well-being? “Because I got to know Prof Winnie Mak from the Department of Psychology, after I joined CUHK (to teach).” We covered Winnie’s story in the first issue of Cubic Zine.

Winnie has long been working on mental health topics, particularly anti-stigma initiatives, and set up social enterprise StoryTaler. “She keeps bringing up ‘well-being’, stressing that it’s something for everyone. So I thought, people involved in community planning should have a high level of well-being, as collective placemaking would allow them to develop positive relationships, and in the process finding life meaningful and purposeful. Community planning engages individuals to better the environment and actualise themselves.”

The two clicked. Working with social worker Dr Wong Oi Ling and artist Amy Cheung, they launched the interdisciplinary educational programme “Nourishing a Life of Dignity” (also supported by KPF some years back), looking into the topic of “human flourishing” from their respective professional angles. “The four of us silly ladies sat for a chat and somehow the idea took shape.”

An urban planner herself, Mee Kam reveals that the planning process in Hong Kong revolves mainly around technical calculations, with limited discussion on environmental quality, and whether the space benefits the physical and mental health of citizens and families. Her team proposes a human-centred framework for sustainable development, while emphasising the significance to create a space that nurtures the soul through “placemaking”.

“The best kind of community planning needs no planning; the neighbourhood works together naturally.” Mee Kam paints the ideal picture in her view – inhabitants take part in crafting their communal space, auditing shared resources and finding ways together to improve their community. “A lot of good stuff could be uncovered; they may realise where they live is not as bad as they think.”

Once a booming mining community, Ma On Shan Village is a teaching material highly regarded by Mee Kam. The photo captures Grace Youth Camp (now revitalised as a museum). (Photo: Museum Facebook page)
Hurdles on the “plane”

Again quoting Ma On Shan Village as an example, “the government seeks housing development at the foothills – instead of merely steering clear of the heritage sites, they should integrate these relics during their design and planning.” She finds the mines and surrounding landscapes excellent resources for learning, covering subjects from science, technology and mathematics, to arts, history and culture. And the best news? These materials are so easily accessible by students and the general public. “Consider from the perspectives of points, lines and planes,” her eyes sparkling with animation.

Asked to comment on governmental efforts on planning and conservation, she remarks “not big an issue” for “points”, “acceptable” for “lines”, “but when it comes to ‘planes’, it’s a headache. They probably worry they can’t touch anything, when that’s not really the case.” Collaboration across disciplines and a vision is vital for sorting out considerations on a “plane”. She happens to be someone who loves “crossing the line”. “I love interdisciplinarity. Conservation is not within my area of expertise to begin with, but I work with other colleagues if the project is fun, and learn with them.”

It goes without saying that Mee Kam is not your buried-in-research-behind-closed-doors type of scholar. Eager to converse with others, she proudly claims that in her secondary school days, “I know schoolmates from seven forms above AND below mine.” She accentuates placemaking in her roomy office; walls of books encircle a square low table and sofa seat, thoughtful arrangements to make it easy for students to drop by and chat. She finds immense pleasure in interchanges, confessing that her hobby of teaching traces back to her childhood days.

“Love teaching all this while.” Only a few years of age, she would fetch chalk and ask siblings and neighbours to act as students listening to her class. Upon university graduation, she joined a secondary school to teach geography, though resigning a year later, “since…I also like studying,” she chuckles. “I taught Form One, tried “7-up”, meaning seven lessons in a row. A job where there’s only output but no input (of knowledge) is ill-suited for me.”

A lesson at kindergarten

She returned to HKU for a master’s in urban planning, “I was very patriotic. China opened up for almost a decade then, experts in urban planning were in great demand.” In the 70s and 80s, university students were enthusiasts of “getting to know China and caring for society” (認中關社). Mee Kam was a member of HKU’s China Study Society and Current Affairs Committee. As “society’s conscience”, her peers voiced their views in statements towards all matters, big and small. Another one-third of a century has rolled by; it seems times have changed.

“Not sure why my mum enrolled me in a left-wing kindergarten (in the 60s). One day the teacher asked what newspapers our families read. My arm in the air, I answered Ming Pao. She chided that this outlet is no good.” The teacher’s response turns out to be a lifelong lesson.

“With my limited vocabulary back then, I felt the fact that I could say Ming Pao was already something. I didn’t believe what my dad read was no good, why would my teacher think so? But teachers shouldn’t be wrong (a child’s thought) …So later on I constantly doubt, why are people so assured of certain things? I’d ask, based on what (are they this convinced)?”

One of the many issues that begs her question is the debatable Lantau Tomorrow Vision plan. “If you believe in the climate crisis and the impending sixth mass extinction; if you believe that we only have less than 11 years to tackle the climate crisis (reference), you wouldn’t support further reclamation, and you would understand the importance to restore ecological services value. Plus, artificial islands entail sacrificing the well-being of many generations to make them liveable.” (Check out her viewpoints in this article.)

Ending our interview in a haste, Mee Kam rushes back to her seat by the window to begin another video conference.

Community Design / Author: Ryo Yamazaki (Photo: eslite)
【Scholarly keyword】Community designer

Whereas Mee Kam mentioned several times in her interview “community planning” and “placemaking”, “community design” is the current trend in Japan and Taiwan. Especially since Ryo Yamazaki wrote a few books on the concept, the term has become a buzzword in the field of social innovation, though it means more or less the same as what Mee Kam described.

A landscape designer, Yamazaki finds his actual job more like a community designer – not only working on visible spaces, but also the invisible social connections. Since 1999, he and his team drew up numerous user-oriented projects – from parks and festivals to schools and after-school pastimes of primary students. The idea sent reverberations across Japan and many followed suit.

【BUSINESS 2.0】Restyling the Japanese loo|Kaifong Tour

The sanitary public bathrooms in Japan are role models for all, still, locals have found ways to take them to the next level. The Japanese charity Nippon Foundation initiated the Tokyo Toilet Project, inviting several famed architects (including Tadao Ando) to transform 17 public restrooms in the capital into “toilets for everyone”.

The first one unveiled in August is an intriguing transparent construction, which walls turn opaque once the door is locked. This allows monitoring of its hygiene and usage from the outside. The architect even envisions the structure as a “lantern” for the park at night, breaking the stereotypical image that public restrooms are dirty and dark. How would you revamp Hong Kong’s WCs?

New boss on board! Prof Benny Zee’s three-pronged strategy to a dare-to-innovate culture

“Why start a company? To research. To make an impact. Not to fish in troubled waters. Making a profit is important; rushing it is uncalled for.” With a chuckle, biostatistics expert Prof Benny Zee underlines his rationale as an academic entrepreneur.

Speed is often prized in launching a business – once an idea pops up, entrepreneurs press on to test the waters, fine-tune, fundraise, and scale up. But to Benny, a scholar first and foremost, technological readiness and empirical evidence are of the essence. He instead gives priority to developing a convincing product; soft fire makes sweet malt, after all. “Of course, that’s just me.”

Returning from Canada two decades ago, Benny has amassed a considerable list of titles at CUHK – Professor of the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, Director of Centre for Clinical Research and Biostatistics, and Chairman of the Joint CUHK – New Territories East Cluster Clinical Research Ethics Committee for the past 14 years. Lately, he has yet another major engagement.

This April, he was appointed Director of the Office of Research and Knowledge Transfer Services (ORKTS). From a user to its chief, Benny leads a team of 70 to spur research commercialisation at CUHK. Over the past few months, we often spot him at our forlorn campus – sleeves rolled up, backpack slung over one shoulder – commuting between his several workplaces.

Before delving into his anecdotes about teaching, research and entrepreneurship, let’s get to know Benny as a student.


On top of his career, Prof Benny Zee gladly shares his approach to life. “Sports and music matter a great deal to me.” (Photo: SoCUBE)

A merrily eventful childhood

Truth be told, the spelling of his surname has been a curious topic to us. Contrary to the usual “Tsui” (徐), “Zee” prompts associations with Chinese Singaporeans or Malaysians. Turns out he’s born and bred in Hong Kong, an elite “DBS” (Diocesan Boys’ School) boy even.

“My dad is Shanghainese,” he explains that when his father migrated to Hong Kong, he read his surname in the Shanghai dialect, which sounded like “shi” (voiced sound) to the immigration officers. “Now you know, a lot of Zees in Hong Kong are Shanghainese.”

After finishing his secondary studies in Hong Kong, he pursued actuarial science and statistics in Canada. Asked if there’s a particular reason, “not much studying necessary to ace maths. The maths concepts needed for my first year in Canada? Already done those in Form 3!” He then reveals another reason for his choice – a happy childhood.

“My DBS days were packed; I was on the volleyball team, played high jump, competed at music festivals as a choir AND orchestra member (he played the flute and bassoon), was also a scout. I’m blessed with blissful memories growing up, which explains my lack of time for studies!” He laughs.

Learning calculus in as early as Form 3, Benny considers learning maths the most “cost-effective” – little time necessary for a great outcome. “I tried psychology in Year 1, gave my all but didn’t fare particularly well. As for maths, I didn’t even buy the textbook!”

With his inborn talent, he finished his master’s degree in Canada. “Some of my classmates joined the insurance industry (as actuaries), though working out insurance plans doesn’t tickle my fancy. I wasn’t eager to join the workforce either; would rather apply my statistical knowledge in meaningful areas, which struck me then – medicine. That, is biostatistics.” He made his way to the USA for a PhD at the University of Pittsburgh, investigating the remarkably rare systemic sclerosis (硬皮症).


Canadian Cancer Trials Group (formerly the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group), where Benny served for 13 years. “Fortunate to have developed my early career under the guidance of an excellent mentor, Prof Joseph Pater, who showed me the importance of good research methodologies, characters to work well with people, and high integrity.” (Photo courtesy of Prof Benny Zee)

Crossing the line in the States

When it comes to memories of Pittsburgh, the most striking is not found in his research at the Department of Rheumatology, but studies on tendon and cartilage damage done by his orthopaedic colleagues across the corridor.

“They were calculating the number of times a person’s tendon moves throughout his life until causing damage to the cartilage, thus joint pain. They had a machine spinning a cadaver non-stop to arrive at their data.” Happened this research team needed an expert in statistics, so Benny was invited to “moonlight”. “First time visiting their lab, there lay the lower portion of a body, all the while my colleagues kept encouraging me to eat and drink with hospitality.” He can’t help laughing at his first encounter with a “silent teacher”.

This fortuitous engagement introduced Benny to the realm of bioengineering. Realising his interest for mechanical data, he threw himself into this “side business”. His salary even exceeded his PhD stipend, drawing his supervisor’s attention. His response then was pretty bold, “well, ask the University to not pay me as much.”

He graduated in 1987, about time to get a job. Fed up with daily accounts of wars across the territory, he had no plans to stay. A radical alternative crossed his mind. “I almost set off to a small Canadian town to teach maths at a university. My supervisor reacted strongly.”

And naturally so – given the research unit he belonged to (the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project; NSABP) was a clinical trials group of considerable scale in the USA, it pained his supervisor to see his talents go down the drain. Benny eventually joined the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group as Senior Biostatistician, taking charge of designing clinical experiments.

Transferring his experience back home

Soon enough, he realised the job came with a “price”, “administrative work took up almost 80% of my time – designing trials, fixing computer issues, handling human resources, negotiating with industry collaborators, and the maths part got squeezed. Took a while to recover from the ‘shock’; I was gonna be a maths professor in a small town!”

Regardless of the pivotal change, he stresses later in our interview that administration plays a fundamental role in an institution to ensure its smooth operations and credibility. He doesn’t seem to mind these tasks too, seeing he spent 13 years on this first job. He takes the greatest pride in receiving funding from pharmaceutical companies, while matching up to the targets of both the research institute and companies, finding better medicine for patients.

In early 2000, aware of his ageing parents back in Hong Kong, while feeling it was time for a mid-life change, Benny chanced upon a vacancy from CUHK’s Department of Clinical Oncology, joining the University the next year as Professor. He devoted the first three years to establishing the Comprehensive Cancer Trials Unit.

Aside from conceiving clinical trials to verify the effectiveness of drugs and therapies, he assisted in forming an ethics committee. When it comes to matters of life and death, an advanced regulatory mechanism ought to be in place to safeguard research standards without violations of ethical conduct. “This is how we can connect with the international community and be recognised globally. There was considerable wrestling though, for something that was not in the system in the first place.”


The Centre for Clinical Research and Biostatistics family of experts at CUHK, also the origin of the later set-up Health View Bioanalytic and its technology. (Photo courtesy of Prof Benny Zee)

Joining the ranks of entrepreneurs

As he engaged in his routine work and innovated within his Faculty, Benny noticed the rise of an entrepreneurial culture across campus since 2014, marked by the launch of the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities (TSSSU; funded by the Innovation and Technology Commission). The Scheme encourages faculty members and students alike to start ventures and commercialise their research. “Universities haven’t been supportive of professors running businesses in the past.”

Coincidentally, Benny and his team developed the “automatic retinal imaging analysis” (ARIA) tool those few years. By taking a single picture of the rear of the eye, their system analyses the blood vessels and estimates the risks of stroke and cardiovascular diseases. ARIA is already patented in the USA, mainland and Taiwan.

Riding on the University’s transformation, he saw the opportune timing to put his tool into practice, setting up Health View Bioanalytic through TSSSU in 2015. “So I’m a product of TSSSU!”

His team not only works with NGOs to offer assessments to the community, but also furthers their research with their growing database. They soon notice that the photo also reveals risks of cerebral white matter hyperintensities (腦白質病變) for early detection of dementia, and can even screen for drug addiction and depression. “Informed of their own risk estimates, the public may adjust their lifestyles in time, tuning their eating and exercise habits, which can significantly reduce the chances of disease. We are now looking for more scientific backup and roll out (our service) in one go.”

Five years have since passed. He deems his business not robust yet, though highlighting his casual attitude towards making a profit, “why would you need to earn that much?” All along, the purpose of his business is for research and bringing substantial impact to society. Simple and straightforward enough, challenging in execution, nonetheless.

“Initially, I thought a well-designed assessment tool automatically guarantees users – not the case at all. Our society lacks a culture of disease prevention.” While most pay the doc a visit when sick, drastically fewer would willingly pay for a screening service. This is why his team also organises awareness-raising events through CUHK’s Knowledge Transfer Project Fund, for instance, lending the voice of the youth to promote brain health messages to the elderly.

The start-up journey is never a smooth one. Having founded two companies (the other being Beth Bioinformatics), Benny agrees that entrepreneurs need a sturdy mind. “There’re loads of varying voices or noises out there; some throws a wet blanket on you, some deceives, some coaxes, some tells you off, some oppresses.” He makes a list of the many negativities to expect. “You need a firm belief, but one that’s grounded, not blind.”


Benny took office as ORKTS Director in April; one of his latest challenges is probably to manage a huge team amid the epidemic. We interviewed him on a blistering August day; whereas most colleagues worked from home, he was back at Pi Ch’iu Building as usual. (Photo: SoCUBE)

Down a new runway

Almost 20 years at the University, he embraced another challenge this April as Director of ORKTS. His ample experience in administration and statistics surely adds value to the strategic transfer of CUHK’s fruitful research to the community, especially marshalling expertise across disciplines to tackle pressing global issues.

Every university has a department like ORKTS, charged with facilitating research grant applications, research contracts with the industry, patent applications and so on. Benny used to be a frequent ORKTS user and knows its responsibilities inside out. Still, to the public and even students, few know such a department exists at Pi Ch’iu Building along the University Mall.

“ORKTS used to focus on one facet (aforementioned); it now has another mission – knowledge transfer (KT). Universities started waking up to its importance around this decade or so.” KT is a scholarly buzzword, though the concept can be illustrated by starting a company based on research outputs, as Benny did. “To perfect our KT and research commercialisation, many of these activities would take place at our newly established InnoPort.”


The epidemic also set back InnoPort’s renovation, most of which has been concluded to date. Its strategic location likely makes it a focal point for CUHK entrepreneurship. (Photo: SoCUBE)

Three ways to a culture of innovation

Conveniently situated next to the University MTR Station, InnoPort takes up five floors of the Inter-University Hall, offering co-working spaces, an exhibition hall, meeting rooms among other amenities. Refurbishment has mostly wrapped up in mid-2020. “What happens inside is more important. Stationed here, we have our Venture Acceleration Team, which assists professors and students in commercialisation; Social Innovation Team enables them to initiate social enterprises or projects in response to the society’s needs.”

Besides these two key pillars, Benny has an even higher target, “to set up a system that consolidates research strengths and talents from our broad range of disciplines, discarding departmentalism and joining hands to answer global needs. Say environmental pollution, how could engineers, public health experts and scientists address this issue from their own perspectives? This would be the primary job for our Knowledge Liaison Team.” Finally, the InnoPort Team focuses on cultivating the ecosystem at this hotspot, while strengthening collaborations among teams, internal and external parties.

InnoPort is scheduled to “open for business” after the epidemic as the new entrepreneurial landmark for faculty members, students and alumni, spreading CUHK’s dare-to-innovate spirit. Benny promises that he and his team will diligently conduct the administrative work, making sure that these “big plans” are effectively in order.

(Photo: National Cancer Institute / Unsplash)
【Scholarly keyword】Multi-centre clinical trials

“Clinical trial” is no doubt a keyword in Benny’s career, not to mention a recent hot topic. Just last month, Russia was the first to announce mass production for a Covid vaccine, inviting questions from the international community. One of the reasons was that the vaccine has yet been tested by the necessary phase 3 trials.

Besides categorisation by stage, clinical trials can be “single-centre” or “multi-centre”, the latter being Benny’s strength. This means the trials are “scattered” and done at different locations – complexity is higher, but a greater diversity (e.g. race, living environment) of participants is possible, avoiding homogeneous sampling.