CityU is the top university in Hong Kong for most US patents granted for the sixth consecutive year; 75 patents and technologies licensed through HK Tech 300

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) shone once again in the 2021 top 100 universities granted US utility patents, according to the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). CityU placed 29th in the world, its highest-ever position and 22 places better than last year. Furthermore, CityU was ranked first among local institutions for the sixth consecutive year.

Under the leadership CityU President Way Kuo, the University advocates “the integration of teaching and research” in alignment with other world-class universities. It is committed to promoting a knowledge-based economy and has become an innovation hub for research and professional education. As at 31 August 2022, CityU had applied for more than 1,250 patents for technologies around the globe, of which 701 had been granted.

President Kuo expressed his pride in CityU’s remarkable achievements in innovation. “Driven by the synergy of top-notch research output and groundbreaking entrepreneurship programmes, CityU has become one of the world’s most innovative universities. Our pace of innovation will continue to accelerate and further contribute to society.”

CityU’s outstanding innovation and research capabilities have been repeatedly recognised. For example, CityU won 22 awards at the Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days 2022, the highest number of awards among local universities, while over 170 faculty members were among Stanford University’s list of the world’s top 2% most-cited scientists in 2021. By faculty size, this makes CityU faculty among the three best-performing academics in Asia. The impact of CityU research is also reflected in the tripling of knowledge transfer income over the past few years.

HK Tech 300 fosters the transfer of CityU intellectual property and technology into practical applications

To provide educational and growth opportunities for young people and translate CityU research results and intellectual property into practical applications, CityU launched “HK Tech 300”, a large-scale flagship innovation and entrepreneurship programme, in March 2021, with an allocation of HK$500 million. This substantial funding and the scale make HK Tech 300 the largest university-based entrepreneurship programme in Asia.

HK Tech 300 aims to create 300 start-ups in three years. The programme has so far awarded 360 start-up teams a seed fund of HK$100,000 each, and more than 70 start-up companies angel fund investment of up to HK$1 million each. Through HK Tech 300, 75 licensing agreements have been signed between CityU and a number of start-ups and project teams to allow these companies to use CityU intellectual property and technology to develop innovative tech products and services.

Professor Lu Jian, Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (right) and Mr Shen Junda, PhD student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering of CityU (left).

Sensor technology for multiple tests

Professor Lu Jian, Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (MNE), Dr Li Yangyang, Associate Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), Dr Zhou Binbin, former Postdoc in the MNE and Mr Shen Junda, PhD student in the MSE, developed a patented technology, titled “Metallic Structure and a Method for Surface Treatment of a Metallic Structure” (Patent number: US11,053,605). Building on this technology, the team developed new SERS (Surface-Enhanced Raman) sensors, which can be applied to food safety testing, dangerous goods testing and early disease screening. The team founded LUMAT-SERS Limited and received HK Tech 300 Angel Fund investment for further development of the start-up.

SERS sensors developed by the team can be applied to food safety testing, dangerous goods testing and early disease screening.

These SERS sensors can be mass-produced through environmentally friendly methods, offering superior performance and lower cost than commercially available SERS sensors. The team hopes to promote the application of SERS technology in government food and drug administration, laboratories and testing centres and is undergoing collaborative development of the technology for disease surveillance (e.g. early cardiovascular disease screening and COVID-19 rapid tests). The team is also looking to take the SERS technology to millions of households in the future.

(From left) Professor Lu Yang, Professor, Mr Andy Ong, Research Assistant, Dr Fan Rong, Visiting Assistant Professor, and Dr James Utama Surjadi, Postdoc, all from the Department of Mechanical Engineering of CityU.

Stronger and greener bamboo materials

Professor Lu Yang, Professor, and Dr Fan Rong, Visiting Assistant Professor, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering developed “Method of Forming a Composite Material and a Composite Material” (Patent number: US11,053,605). They partnered with Dr James Utama Surjadi, Postdoc, and Mr Andy Ong, Research Assistant, in the same department, to found Super Bamboo Limited (Super Bamboo), which received HK Tech 300 seed funding and angel fund investment.

Based on this technology, Super Bamboo designed advanced augmented bamboo material Super Bamboo ™, which won a Gold Medal at Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days (IGED). The material is three times stronger than normal bamboo. Its specific strength, i.e. the material’s strength divided by its density, is even higher than that of industrial steel and titanium alloys. Compared to existing bamboo materials, Super Bamboo™ has superior dimensional stability, and it is both water-resistant and fire-retardant. Super Bamboo™ uses a breakthrough manufacturing method, which does not require glue and does not emit formaldehyde or other toxic chemicals. Super Bamboo™ has great potential and can be used in applications such as furniture, construction, automobiles, and even the space industry in the future. The team wishes to combine nature’s friendliest resource with innovative engineering to build a greener world.

Mr Ronald Ng, founder of MOVE IT MOVE IT LIMITED.

Combining AI and removal service

Professor Antoni Bert Chan, Associate Head in the Department of Computer Science, and Dr Zhang Qi developed the “System and Method for Counting Objects” (Patent number: US11,048,948). Although Mr Ronald Ng, founder of MOVE IT MOVE IT LIMITED (MOVE IT MOVE IT), is not a CityU student or alumnus, he participated in

Tech 300 by applying this CityU patented technology on his all-in-one logistics platform. The company also received HK Tech 300 seed funding and angel fund investment.

Individual customers can use the MOVE IT MOVE IT mobile application to scan the items that need to be moved, and the AI furniture detection algorithm automatically generates an inventory list.

Individual customers can use the company’s mobile application, equipped with AI furniture detection technology, to scan the items to be moved. The system automatically generates an inventory list and helps standardise and digitalise quotation procedures.

For enterprise customers, MOVE IT MOVE IT also provides a central logistics management control system, which provides functions including fleet tracking and management, order scheduling, real-time information sharing and driver performance management. The company enables digitalised management and practices of its clients’ business strategies with a “Software-as-a-Service” (SaaS) model and scales up operations efficiency with big data. 

(From the left) Ms Chiu Chi-kei, founder of Stemtitute Education & Technology Co., Ltd. and alumna of the Department of Management, and her team members, Mr Tong Kin-wa and Mr Chu King-pan.

Infusing AR technology in STEM education

Professor Fu Hongbo, Professor in the School of Creative Media, and his fellow researcher developed a patent titled “Three-dimensional Sketching in Mobile Augmented Reality” (Patent number: US11,087,561). Ms Chiu Chi-kei, an alumna of the Department of Management and her team use this patented technology and founded Stemtitute Education & Technology Co., Ltd. (Stemtitute), which also received HK Tech 300 seed funding and angel fund investment to develop the company.

Stemtitute aims to integrate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and AR technology into the traditional education industry and establish a brand-new application. The team aims to provide a more effortless and happier learning experience for students and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of science education.