Health and environmental safety were a focus for the winning teams of the HKUST-Sino One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition this year, with an array of innovative proposals including an artificial intelligence-based system to enhance construction site safety, an affordable rapid infectious disease test kit for pets, and a novel automated cocktail machine for wellbeing rejuvenation. All three solutions involved research outcomes developed by The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).
A total of 175 teams formed by HKUST faculty, students and alumni, as well as members from other local and overseas institutions had joined the 12th edition of this competition beginning in March despite the fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Since its inception in Hong Kong in 2011, the competition has gradually expanded to seven regions covering Macau, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Zhongshan and the Yangtze River Delta. Winners from all the regions including that of Hong Kong will compete in a Grand Final round later this year.
Ir. Prof. Andrew YOUNG, Associate Director (Innovation) of Sino Group, which has been the competition’s title sponsor since 2018, and Adjunct Professor of the Division of Integrative Systems and Design at HKUST, says, “Sino Group is committed to nurturing young talents to support Hong Kong’s development into an international innovation and technology hub. We are honored to have sponsored the competition for five consecutive years. These shortlisted projects show the vision and capabilities of youths to respond to society’s needs with creative solutions by integrating technology and innovation. We hope the winning teams will make good use of the prizes as a seed fund to further develop and execute their innovative ideas for the betterment of our society as a whole.”
Prof. Tim CHENG, Vice-President for Research & Development at HKUST, says, “We’re honored and proud to share the success of these budding entrepreneurs as we ring in the 12th anniversary for the HKUST-Sino One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition and the 30th anniversary of the University. HKUST vows to offer a nurturing environment for talents to conduct research, exercise their imagination in innovation and for students to take on leadership skills so to create lasting, positive impacts in our society.”
Platinum Award (champion) winner, AutoSafe, realized that 30 to 40% of workplace fatalities happened at construction sites. Since safety is a major problem in the industry, the team developed a new system to monitor site safety with artificial intelligence. The system uses cameras to track movements of people and automatically conduct big data-driven safety analysis and risk assessment while integrating with the Digital Works Supervision System for safety report drafting. When a risk is detected, warning lights on site will be activated, and the system will also send an SMS to remind site personnel to pay attention to safety. Project managers can also use this system to improve site safety management processes. The system has already been deployed in a hotel site and a government works site. The team hopes to further enhance the safety awareness and practice in the construction industry, and to reduce the number of accidents. The team is also collaborating with insurance companies to mitigate the hazards while providing more holistic insurance for the construction industry.
Gold Award (first runner-up) winner FLASH Diagnostics, too, puts health first, but for pets, who may not know how to express pain or discomforts to their owners. Early detection of some animal diseases is crucial for appropriate treatment and recovery. However, current testing options are pricey and take a long time to receive results. With over 20 years of combined research experience, the team developed a rapid test kit for animal diseases that is not only easy to use but also less expensive than tests done at centralized laboratories. Veterinarians can use the test to diagnose diseases from the comfort of their office almost immediately. FLASH Diagnostics also took home the Global Investment Award and GF Innovation Award.
Silver Award (second runner-up) winner went to XOXO Beverages. Cocktails brings fun to parties, but hiring a mixologist costs a fortune. As such, the team created an automated cocktail machine that features a medical-grade precision pump, an instant cooling system to precisely control the ice dilution and temperature, and a research-backed vortex mixing mode to promise a perfect tipple every time – a great relaxation for the stressed minds because of the pandemic. XOXO Beverages was also the Elevator Pitch Award Winner. The team has begun collaborating and partnering with a number of banquet venues to bring its brand-new cocktail experience to weddings and other events at an affordable price.