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MIT Opens Its First Innovation Node in Hong Kong

US top-notch university nurtures future startup founders by connecting MIT and Hong Kong students to develop tech business ideas together

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently celebrated the grand opening of the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node, a collaborative space aiming to connect MIT with the Hong Kong academic, commercial and social community through education and public engagement programmes.

MIT Opens Its First Innovation Node in Hong Kong

MIT chose Hong Kong for a few reasons. “Not only is the density of quality universities in Hong Kong as high as that in Boston, it is also easy for organisations to operate here,” said Professor Charles G. Sodini, LeBel Chair of Electrical Engineering of MIT, “the city is within the Greater Bay Area with Shenzhen as its immediate neighbour, so startups can easily do prototyping and scale up physical artefacts. This is something that interests MIT very much.”

Situated at the Hong Kong Productivity Council Building in Kowloon Tong, the Innovation Node is a 5,000-square-foot multifunctional space with classroom, co-working space and maker space facilities, featuring advanced prototyping equipment and media centres for teaching purpose.

Brian Yen, Executive Director, sees the Innovation Node as a catalyst to foster innovation. “With the unique programmes that we offer, our aim is to bring some of the MIT teaching concepts and philosophies about innovation, entrepreneurship, and the whole pedagogical method to Hong Kong students and educators,” he said.

As its flagship programme, the MIT Entrepreneurship and Maker Skills Integrator (MEMSI) was launched in January 2017, bringing together 30 students from MIT and local universities through an intense and immersive “tech startup bootcamp”. At the end of the two-week bootcamp, students were required to come up with a viable business plan and a proof of concept prototype for a potential startup business. The programme also included factory tours in Shenzhen and Dongguan, as well as panel discussions and mentorship by MIT lecturers.

Serving as faculty director for the Innovation Node, Sodini said that the programme complements the existing education system in Hong Kong and MIT by adding the innovation element. “Instead of focusing on grades and lectures, the experience provided by MEMSI is about entrepreneurship and making,” he said, “this is a huge eye-opener for both local and MIT students, leading them to come up with ideas for something that can actually be built.”

On top of MEMSI, more programmes are in the pipeline, including MIT Innovation Academy, a mini version of MEMSI that targets secondary school students, and a maker weekend programme that encourages the public to experiment using the advanced tools in the Innovation Node.

The team is also planning a tech startup bootcamp open for international professionals who need coaching on entrepreneurship for technology business. “I believe this can attract a lot of people from around the world to Hong Kong as this is an ideal place for tech startups,” Yen concluded.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

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Fast Facts

  • MIT HK Innovation Node launched in Hong Kong in June 2016
  • Space officially opened in September 2017
  • Currently offers educational and community engagement programmes targeting university and secondary school students
  • Projects in the pipeline include FinTech Entrepreneurship programme and Entrepreneurship for deep-tech startups

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