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This Business School Gives MBAs Access To Leading AI & Robotics Innovation Research Centers

Students who join this Hong Kong-based MBA gain access to leading research and development centers driving innovation in areas including robotics and AI

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By  Matt Kefford

Tue Jul 11 2023

BusinessBecause
Hong Kong is entering a new era of innovation. Already established as a key financial player on the world stage, Hong Kong is now a burgeoning hub of research and development in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and healthcare. 

In May 2022 the Hong Kong government launched ‘InnoHK’, an initiative providing funding for research clusters allowing more than 2000 scientists and engineers to explore innovation possibilities in these areas. 

The initiative is driving Hong Kong’s position as a leader in technology-led R&D. It’s also providing unique career and learning opportunities for students on Hong Kong’s top-ranked MBA program. 


The Joint Entrepreneurial Initiative: Combining MBA students with leading innovation centers 

InnoHK is closely linked with the University of Hong Kong Business School (HKU)—around a third of the funded research clusters are led by HKU professors.

Shortly after the launch of the initiative, HKU utilized these links to provide opportunities for students on the school’s flagship MBA program to get involved in the research and development process. 

The Joint Entrepreneurial Initiative (JEI) allows HKU MBA students to work alongside scientists and engineers within InnoHK R&D centers. It encourages students to test their business knowledge and apply their entrepreneurial abilities, aiming to convert innovative research into practical business opportunities. 

With each research cluster composed of specialists with highly technical knowledge, the partnership supplies researchers with necessary business expertise while also allowing students to gain practical experience and in-depth insight into key innovation areas. 

“We are good at design and research, but honestly we’re not very good at the business side,” says Ivan Wong, the Technical Manager with TransGP, one of the research centers involved in the initiative. 

A high technology-led research center, TransGP explores the use of AI and robotics in garment production to improve efficiency and safety within the clothing industry. 

“Partnering with HKU means students can give us professional advice about our business advantages and disadvantages,” Ivan adds. 


A practical opportunity to test MBA knowledge and skills

While the HKU MBA curriculum teaches students fundamental business knowledge—modules cover subjects ranging from human resources to finance and accounting—the JEI provides a practical opportunity for students to apply this knowledge and further develop their business acumen. 

HKU Part-time MBA students Sissy Zhang and Annie Lu both worked with TransGP as part of the JEI. 

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Working with the program provided a chance to become immersed in an entirely new industry and investigate new technologies for Sissy (pictured), who spent her career working as a journalist in several countries before moving into marketing and communications. 

“Especially with AI in the R&D industry, I believe this is a really rare opportunity,” she explains. “They ran us through how the technology works to understand the basics. We didn’t need to know every detail, but we needed to know the overarching logic.” 

For Annie, who conducts market research for a variety of companies and startups in her role as business development lead at a state-owned enterprise, the JEI was a chance to explore the process of commercializing research and immerse herself in a new industry. 

Along with one other team member, Sissy and Annie spent time in TransGP’s research labs before conducting their own market research and competitor analysis to find opportunities to commercialize TransGP’s technology.


A chance to help launch an innovative new business 

With limited knowledge of the industry, the team of HKU MBAs found their research and problem-solving skills were put to the test during the JEI. 

“We did a lot of research and read lots of reports, articles, and interviews online. We also did some consulting sessions with professionals in the industry,” Annie (pictured) explains.

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“I had to collaborate with my teammates who had different backgrounds and angles to the same questions, so we could think of different ways to solve problems. I felt blessed that I could work with a good team with a lot of talent.” 

After successfully conducting their research and analysis, Sissy, Annie, and their fellow team member presented their findings to Ivan and the TransGP team, who provided detailed feedback to help refine a business strategy. 

“They gave us insight about some fashion brands in the market,” says Ivan. “We are very focused on the hardware and the technology, sometimes we miss thinking about the end user or the fashion market, so this was a really good synergy.” 

Combining these insights with the program’s innovative technology to form a business plan, the TransGP team now plans to commercialize the research and launch a spin-off company in late 2023. 

It’s just one example of successful collaboration between HKU students and researchers who have partnered through the JEI. Companies that successfully launch through the partnership also provide potential career opportunities for students to join as part of the management team. 

Whether or not career opportunities are to follow, both Sissy and Annie agree the partnership provided valuable experience they can take forward into the next stage of their careers. 

“If not for this initiative it would be impossible to have the chance to work with scientists on real-world problems and actually be part of the commercialization process,” says Sissy. 

Student Reviews

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) - MBA Programmes HKU Business School

Student

Verified

23/02/2023

On Campus

Academic

Very good academic, caes course amazing, ccs are all amazing, professors are excellent, the architecture and infrastructure is splendid, people here are awesome, made some really nice friends, and teachers support us

Hatim

Verified

6/02/2023

On Campus

Diversified culture

I highly recommend The University of Hong Kong to students all around the world because of their diversified culture, teaching standards, and the people which make the learning experience better every day.

Student

Verified

6/10/2017

A place where you best understand local and international cultures

With plenty of experiences available, HKU provides a plenty of experience for me to explore our own and other countries culture. She has excellent teaching and research staffs in the Department of Ecology and Biodiversity. Time allocate to students are considered sufficient and staffs are ready to reach anytime. Besides academic, she has various subsidised programmes that allow students to explore. This credit should be given to GenEd (general education) Office to provide different interesting programmes. These ranged from guest speaker giving talks on China-Hong Kong relationship; Contemporary art in Asia; or holding mini forum on geopolitics. Most, if not all, of which are free of charge!

Student

Verified

1/10/2017

Life at HKU

Pursued the SHS degree at HKU, academic and clinical staff members were very devoted and passionate. The academic program is under constant reviews, staff members are open minded and willing to modify the program with regards to students' opinions. Career prospect is good. Uni life is fruitful, many different activities for students to choose. Great facilities supporting learning.

Student

Verified

29/09/2017

Student Life in HKU

As an Accounting and Finance year3 undergrad student in HKU, the university provides lots of opportunities for me to learn and explore my interests. You could join a wide variety of activities, like being an committee member of societies and joining hall activities. As for me, I chose to join the winter exchange programme, be a committee member, and did volunteering servic and had latrine construction and volunteer teaching in Ghana, Africa. I also organized lots of activities for societies and had lots of meetings with company representatives. As for school work, it is okay normally but definitely u got a lot busier during November and April. You got a lot more free time compared to CUHK and HKUST. And of course, this is considered as the most ‘international’ uni in HK in a way that I could make friends coming from different countries. Just wanna add, HKU has a good location for foodie as its near Central, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. For those who love night lifes dont miss this. I didnt speak of anything i dislike coz there isnt anything i dislike much, but if I do have to say, it is the hall life of many local students, such as having cheers at night and never sleeps that may disturb others.

Student

Verified

2/09/2020

Blended

Academics

I think it’s a great university that gives you a lot of opportunities in terms of academics as well as extracurricular activities. The education system is fairly westernized and the professors are good for the most part.

Student

Verified

3/11/2017

International, stratified and political

Adequate resources and very convenient campus with sufficient channels to expand your social and professional circle. Also politically active, and perhaps too biasedly so. Its law school is firmly established, with the longest history in Hong Kong. Practical and professional training, with a constant atmosphere of anxiety and competition that encourages a relatively focused and narrow vision of career outlook. Good range of extra curricular activities available.

Student

Verified

12/10/2017

Life in HKU

HKU provides students with lots of opportunities in multidisciplinary researches and experiences. This encourages students to widen their horizons and prepare for the future. The programme I attended organised both local and oversea field trips that allowed me to have the first hand experiences of relative aspects. It was very useful for my later career.

Student

Verified

6/10/2017

BSocSc

I am a graduate of the BSocSc programme several years ago. I appreciate that the programme provided a flexible choice of majors and minors. Even I was admitted into social sciences programme, I could explore various streams of studies in and out of the social sciences faculty, including global studies, human resources, politics, science and music. I did a double major in psychology and sociology. Among all learning experiences in lectures, tutorials, field trips…, I would say the internship experience was one of the most memorable part of my university life. The faculty offers a credit-bearing internship programme in which students can go to various NGOs to work on social issues, ranging from poverty, education to adjustment of ethnic minorities. Students can be placed locally or overseas, depending on placement quota, their personal preference and past experience. I went to a social service agency that serves adults who are intellectually challenged and have autism spectrum disorder. It was an eye-opening experience in observing how different professionals work together to provide training for those people and reflecting on how psychological knowledge could come into play. I was also able to gain some hands-on experience in leading an activity. There are more and more internship opportunities for university students. It is just another way to gain practical experience apart from applying for interns in government agencies or business companies, especially in organisations that would not openly recruit interns but only work with tertiary institutions. It should be noted that for some majors/courses, there are really a lot of people studying. When I was an undergraduate back then, we often expected a lecture with 100+ students and a tutorial with nearly 20 students. If you favour close student-teacher interaction in small classes, you may look into the enrolment of particular courses.