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UAE and Hong Kong Stengthen Bonds Through HKUST Higher Delegation

Seeking to further strengthen bonds between Hong Kong and the UAE, a high-level delegation from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) – a world-class research-intensive university that focuses on science, engineering, business, as well as humanities and social science, will explore opportunities for research and technology transfer collaboration in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and clean energy.

The delegation will be led by the university president, Nancy Ip, and will also seek to identify potential synergies between HKUST’s expertise in engineering and technology and the UAE’s investment. This follows a previous visit to the UAE by Hong Kong’s secretary for innovation, technology and industry, professor Sun Dong. Building upon these efforts, Ip’s delegation marks a significant milestone among Hong Kong’s universities to reinforce the city’s commitment to advancing research and innovation with the UAE.

Over the past decade, the UAE has emerged as one of Hong Kong’s main trading partners and the largest in the Middle East. Demonstrating the commitment to strengthening connections, Hong Kong’s chief executive, John Lee, embarked on his first overseas visit to the nation last year.

Fostering collaboration

The HKUST delegation will establish new connections with key partners and stakeholders in the UAE’s higher education and innovation systems. This will take place through various meetings and discussions with government representatives, various companies and other partners dealing with innovation, research, technology, and technology transfer in the fields of robotics, AI, clean energy, and start-up incubation.

These key institutions include the Dubai Future Foundation, the University of Sharjah, Khalifa University and Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence.

Given HKUST’s plans to establish Hong Kong’s third medical school, the delegation will also visit the state-of-the-art medical-related research facilities of these key UAE institutions. In doing so, it will gain insights and explore potential collaboration opportunities.

Additionally, the delegation will host a reception to engage with alumni groups in the region and strengthen their ties with their alma mater. This event provides an opportunity for alumni to connect with HKUST and learn about the university’s latest developments and initiatives, while also fostering a sense of community among alumni in the UAE.

HKUST has consistently ranked within the world’s top 70 universities and top three young universities. It is the first university in the region to embrace open AI and has recently established one of the most advanced AI computing facilities for cross-disciplinary research in AI, large language model training, drug screening and more.

Success across fields

University members are also known for successfully applying their basic research results in real-world applications to benefit society. To date, HKUST has nurtured more than 1,700 active startups, nine unicorns and 13 successful exits, including drone empire, DJI, founded by HKUST graduate Frank Wang.

Nancy Ip, president of HKUST
Nancy Ip, president of HKUST

“HKUST is a distinguished global research institution with leadership in the field of AI, there is tremendous potential for collaborative ventures that span education, research, and knowledge transfer with the UAE, which has made substantial investment in the field. Together, we can make meaningful contributions to the advancement and betterment of humankind,” said Nancy Ip, president of HKUST.

HKUST aims to recruit more talented UAE students to its undergraduate and postgraduate programs while aligning with the UAE’s rapid pace of technology progress and fostering advancements in common goals of developing and nurturing talents in the I&T sectors.

“Being home to the most diverse undergraduate student population in Hong Kong, and a trailblazer in innovation, AI, and entrepreneurship, HKUST stands as a preferred partner for the UAE in their pursuit of technological advancement and talent cultivation within the I&T ecosystem. We are committed to providing exceptional education and research opportunities for aspiring UAE students seeking to pursue their studies abroad,” Ip added.

Cultivating talent transformation 

Linking back to synergies between the university and the UAE, national plans such as the UAE’s National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031 and National Program to Transform Technology that aims to cultivate talent transformation for future jobs align with HKUST’s 3.0 vision for advancing the future of living, work, and people.

HKUST’s 3.0 vision includes the proposal of establishing a medical school, an innotech park to collaborate with industry partners, and an additional research base in mainland China.

In this regard, the UAE’s strong commitment to driving technological advancements and becoming a world industrial technology center and global innovation hub complements the goals of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to promote cross-border connectivity and collaboration in I&T as well as Hong Kong’s emergence as a global powerhouse in life sciences, artificial intelligence, and robotic technology. The UAE has been an active partner in the Belt and Road Initiative since its launch.

Building on previous success

In the past year, HKUST enhanced its efforts to connect with UAE stakeholders and hosted prominent officials from the nation including the His Excellency (H.E) Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, the UAE’s Economy Minister and H.E Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to China.

More recently, one of the innovation centers under HKUST, the Hong Kong Center for Construction Robotics (HKCRC), along with its incubated start-up, recently participated in the LEAP 2024 technology conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where it showcased how its advanced robotic technology could contribute to the construction development in the Middle East, thereby displaying the university’s active involvement in commercializing technologies and contributing to the growth of the Middle East region.

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