The opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Shue Yan University (HKSYU) iFREE GROUP Innovation and Research Centre took place on 28 October 2020.  Mr. Alfred SIT Wing-hang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government, officiated the opening ceremony. Co-officiating guests included Mr. Steven LOKE, Executive Chairman of iFREE GROUP (HK) Limited, Dr. Lee George LAM, Chairman of Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited, Mr. Willy LIN Sun Mo, Chairman of Hong Kong Productivity Council, Mr. Jay JUAN, General Manager of Huawei Cloud, Huawei Services (Hong Kong) Co. Limited, Mr. Kenneth TING Woo-shou, Chairman of the Board of Governors of HKSYU, and Dr. Francis CHEUNG, Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of HKSYU.

A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) also signed at the ceremony brought together HKSYU, iFREE GROUP and Huawei Services (Hong Kong) and to strengthen their collaboration in technology research, talent development and marketing activities.

Cyberport Chairman Dr. George LAM looked forward to have full collaboration with the Centre

In their speeches, Mr. Alfred SIT and other officiating guests praised the business sector for their donation to innovation and technology (I&T). They also praised HKSYU’s efforts to set up the Department of Applied Data Science and to launch the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Media Design and Immersive Technology and Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Applied Data Science programmes in the coming years, to nurture I&T talents for the community. Mr. George LAM, Chairman of Hong Kong Cyberport, further announced that he was looking forward to have “full collaboration” with the Shue Yan’s iFREE GROUP Innovation and Research Centre.

The opening ceremony of the iFREE GROUP Innovation and Research Centre was held at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Multimedia Production Centre in the Research Complex at 11.45am. Ahead of the ceremony, the officiating guests visited the Centre in the company of Dr. HU Fai Chung, Deputy President of HKSYU and Professor Catherine SUN Tien Lun, Academic Vice President of HKSYU.

From left to right: Professor Louis LEUNG, Dr. Francis CHEUNG, Mr. Jay JUAN, Dr. George LAM, Mr. Alfred SIT Wing-hang, Mr. Steven LOKE, Mr. Willy LIN, Mr. Kenneth TING, Dr. HU Fai Chung, Professor Catherine SUN.

The iFREE GROUP Innovation and Research Centre is located on the fifth floor of the High Block of the Research Complex, and is set up under a donation of HK$20,000,000 from the iFREE GROUP. The Centre comprises three laboratories, namely, Big Data Laboratory, Social Robotics & Digital Living Laboratory and Virtual Reality Laboratory, together with an Innovation Incubation Hub.

Professor Louis LEUNG, Head of the Department of Applied Data Science, introduced the facilities and functions of the laboratories to the guests. Dr. Connie YUEN, Assistant Professor of the Department, led a group of students to demonstrate to guests the different virtual environments in the 3D CAVE of the Virtual Reality Laboratory, and the educational and commercial functions of the social robots.

Besides the officiating guests, prominent members of the I&T sector, senior staffs of the iFREE GROUP and senior management of the University and department heads also attended the ceremony, including Professor Selina CHAN, Associate Academic Vice President (University Research), Dr. Amy CHAN, Associate Academic Vice President (Teaching and Learning Development), Ms. Sophia YIP, Associate Vice President (Student Affairs) and Professor CHEUNG Siu Keung, Associate Vice President (University Administration).

Dr. HU Fai Chung’s speech

The opening ceremony began with a welcoming speech by Dr. HU Fai Chung. He said: “Today, we are here not only to unveil iFREE GROUP Innovation and Research Center, but also here to witness a big milestone in the history of our university, and that of tertiary education in Hong Kong. We would not be here today without the big heartedness of Mr. Steven LOKE, Executive chairman of iFREE Group, a leading smart technology company, who generously donated 20 million Hong Kong dollars for the building of the iFREE GROUP Innovation and Research Center.”

“These labs will not only empower our students to pursue new knowledge, they will also incubate our research projects on big data, artificial intelligence and robotic technologies. Some of the most important fields to the present and future world.” Dr. HU said.

Dr. HU added: “Shue Yan University believes that it is crucial to equip our future leaders with profound knowledge in this aspect. This will not only help prepare them for future career success, but also to enlighten and inspire them to lead the world into uncharted territory. Therefore, besides the launch of these labs, our university is also launching a new academic department, the Department of Applied Data Science, headed by Professor Louis LEUNG. The new department represents the university’s dedication to reinventing our liberal arts education.”

Dr. HU said that while Hong Kong was developing as a smart city, HKSYU was dedicated to building a smart campus, and would sign a memorandum of understanding with Huawei, “with a vision to create a cutting edge environment for research and teaching pedagogy”.

“We look forward to working and exchanging ideas with all of you in the future to take our city’s technological development to the next level.” Dr. Hu said.

Mr. Alfred SIT’s speech

In his speech, Mr. Alfred SIT, the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, said he was delighted to learn that HKSYU had established the Department of Applied Data Science and planned to launch the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Media Design and Immersive Technology and Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Applied Data Science programmes in the coming years to train I&T talents for the community. The opening of the three laboratories will enable students to learn and apply I&T, and enhance the quality of teaching and learning.

Mr. Sit said talent is crucial to the development of I&T. The Chief Executive announced in the Policy Address in 2017 that the government would step up its efforts to develop I&T in eight major areas, including training I&T talent and strengthening popular science education. Under the Research Talent Hub scheme of the Innovation and Technology Fund, more than 6,000 university graduates have been recruited by I&T companies and organizations to conduct R&D work. In September this year, the government launched the Big Data Analytics Platform, and the iSMART platform will be launched by the end of this year.

At the end of his speech, Mr. SIT said: “Let me extend my gratitude to Shue Yan University and friends of the education and business communities for your efforts to train I&T talent. I sincerely hope that Shue Yan University will scale new heights in education and innovation development for Hong Kong.”

Mr. Steven LOKE’s Speech

In his speech, Mr. Steven LOKE, the Executive Chairman of iFREE GROUP, said it was an honor to witness HKSYU embracing change by advancing the development of digital humanities and digital transformation with the official opening of the iFREE GROUP Innovation and Research Center. He believed that the two new bachelor’s degree programmes on digital science would empower students with digital literacy to embrace and be resilient to change.

He said the new normal following the pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital technologies, communications and commerce throughout the world; but he would say the real meaning of the new normal is the beginning of change. Therefore embracing change is to be ready for the unexpected, and people need to have a mindset to adapt to technological and social changes.

Taking about big data, Mr. LOKE said students need to accept the fact that they cannot avoid data sharing and must use their skills to create positive uses. “This is why I also want say that caring is sharing and sharing is caring. The Shue Yan University Big Data Lab is about sharing for the good of all. The sharing of data means that students have to be open-minded. If we have a mindset of change, we can learn from others, we can balance our will, we can improve our skills, and we should be able to discover wisdom.”

Mr. LOKE encouraged students: “Don’t be afraid of change. Only be afraid having nothing to change. We must make sure that our commitment to digital science takes precedence over ideology, politics, unsubstantiated information and iconic fake news. To make breakthrough advances, we must continue to be curious and willing to face change based on real substantiated data.”

Dr. George LAM’s speech

In his speech, Dr. George LAM, Chairman of Hong Kong Cyberport, said HKSYU has seized the opportunity to get in the “I&T Express” by developing a smart campus and digital humanities, and thus enabling it to support young people to seize the opportunities to pursue their future in the Greater Bay Area and the digital economy.

He said, nowadays, those who do not know digital technology, do not appreciate digital technology, and do not know how to learn digital technology, is like not knowing English. Those who do not know how to use and share data is like having no money. And those who do not know AI (artificial intelligence) is like not knowing how to use software. “So, digital technology is the new English, data is the new currency, and AI is the new software. I think Shue Yan University has all of these.”

Dr. LAM praised iFREE GROUP for its “nobility, determination and ability” to donate money to the university under the Convid-19 pandemic, and described it as an outstanding example of living corporate social responsibility. He said iFREE GROUP’s donation and participation is a perfect example of the co-ordination among government, industry, academia and research sectors promoted by the government. “I really look forward to have full collaboration with the iFREE GROUP Innovation and research Centre, because what Shue Yan has just mentioned is what the Cyberport wants to do.”

Dr. LAM also invited HKSYU to discuss with Dr. Stella KWAN Mun-yee, Chief Corporate Development Officer of Cyberport, for a “deep collaboration”.

After the opening ceremony, guests and HKSYU’s staff visited the facilities of the iFREE GROUP Innovation and Research Centre.

Source: November 2020 Issue