HKUST Students Win Healthcare Designathon AIA Group Sees Market Potential Of The Winning Product


Four students of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) won the top honors as Champions of Hong Kong’s first ever Healthcare Designathon Competition. The winning product, Fit-Kick, seeks to provide performance gains and injury prevention for athletes. The AIA Group who sponsored the contest has found the product very interesting and is advising the students on its future development. The team will hold talks with AIA EDGE, The AIA Group’s innovation unit, and venture capitalists in the coming weeks to provide resources to further develop the product for commercialization.

Fit-Kick – sensor-embedded ankle sleeves which track the lower body movement of athletes, was developed by Jitesh Chhabria following a serious injury along with his team NGgear comprising Phillip Chan, Derek Yip and Yang Xi – all MPhil students of the Technology, Leadership and Entrepreneurship Program at HKUST. The product offers gait analysis, form suggestions, gamifying recovery, and ghost-assisted training, with applications extending from soccer to martial arts. The team has already consulted several experts including kickboxer Alain Ngalani, a four-time Muay Thai world champion representing Hong Kong, Theodore Lo, an angel fund investor and founder of fitness center Crossfit 852, and Ed Haynes, former Hong Kong Rugby team member and founder of Coastal Fitness.

Mr Steve Monaghan, head of AIA EDGE, said health represents Asia’s biggest challenge and opportunity. “The students of HKUST demonstrated the incredible potential of digital in health. Their capability in creating innovative solutions demonstrated the potential to completely change the way we diagnose and treat health problems faced by many of us in today’s society,” he said.

The Healthcare Designathon competition is a new product design framework co-developed by the Venture Entrepreneurship Network (VEN) - a student-led entrepreneurship initative that connects the HKUST community to the business sector, investors and government bodies and Design Alpha - an organization promoting design thinking principles and methodology. The competition was organized by the Electronic and Computer Engineering Department under the School of Engineering with support from the Entrepreneurship Center. Participants were offered six design thinking coaching sessions over the period of a month and a half before competing in a semi-final and a final round, where six teams were shortlisted.

The contest aims at providing enough resources and mentorship to guide the winning teams to develop viable products that can be developed further into commercial reality. AIA is collaborating with Nest, a leading startup incubator in Hong Kong, to provide a health and wearable tech accelerator platform to help shape the winning design concepts into real product that can benefit AIA’s customer community. By aligning university innovation with downstream accelerator support, the impact of the designathon competition can be multiplied by the strategic alignment of resources in Hong Kong’s innovation ecosystem.

Prof Michael Sung, Associate Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at HKUST, said this competition is the first of its kind in Hong Kong to combine the rigorous design thinking process pioneered by the world’s leading design firm IDEO and Institute of Design at Stanford, with a competition format to develop compelling healthcare and wellness products with the greatest impact to society.

“In contrast to other hackathon competitions where products are thrown together over an intense weekend of activity, we focus on a design marathon or ‘designathon’ concept, where we lead all the competing teams through a well thought-out design process over a period of six weeks to optimize product concepts that take into account customer needs, business viability, technical feasibility, and ultimately market and societal impact,” said Prof Sung. “The sophistication of the winning design concepts demonstrated the success of the designathon concept, and we are already working on a follow-on designathon competition to be held in spring with sponsorship from brinc – a leading internet of things (IOT) venture fund, to help spark the development of exciting hardware-based products locally in Hong Kong,” he added.

Special guest judges included Richard Kelly, former managing director of Ideo Asia Pacific; Manav Gupta, founder of brinc, the first IOT hardware-focused accelerator startup fund in HK; Laura Politis, Direct of Operations at 3Doodler and innovator of a handheld 3D printing pen product that crowdfunded over a $1M USD in the first day of their campaign; Kevin Leung, founder of local product design firm Muku Labs which developed the world’s first mobile phone remote control called Shuttr; and Po Chi Wu, professor of entrepreneurship at HKUST.

AIA EDGE, AIA Group’s innovation unit, is tasked with developing and progressing breakout innovations that support the business strategy and enhance the company's ability to deliver leading solutions and experiences to customers and partners. AIA’s participation in the Designathon will help drive a dialogue with entrepreneurs, shape the creativity and ideas of the start-up community into commercializable outcomes, and create an entrepreneurial mindset internally and externally that helps AIA thrives.

About AIA

AIA Group Limited and its subsidiaries (collectively “AIA”) comprise the largest independent publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group. It has operations in 17 markets in Asia-Pacific – wholly-owned branches and subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Macau, Brunei, a 97 per cent subsidiary in Sri Lanka, a 26 per cent joint venture in India and a representative office in Myanmar.

The business that is now AIA was first established in Shanghai over 90 years ago. It is a market leader in the Asia-Pacific region (ex-Japan) based on life insurance premiums and holds leading positions across the majority of its markets. It had total assets of US$159 billion as of 31 May 2014. AIA Group Limited is listed on the Main Board of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited under the stock code “1299”.

About the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) ( is a world-class research university excelling in science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science.  Internationally renowned for its academic rigor and accomplishments, the University promotes interdisciplinary studies and provides holistic education, nurturing well-rounded graduates with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, innovative thinking and relevant skills to thrive in a knowledge economy.  As an international university with strong ties to global thought leaders, HKUST has wide-ranging connections with Mainland China while aspiring to be a global premier knowledge hub and a center of research breakthroughs.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Sherry No
Tel: 2358 6317


Anita Lam
Tel: 2358 6313


 (From left) Prof Michael Sung, Mr Jitesh Chhabria, Mr Derek Yip and Mr Steve Monaghan.
(From left) Prof Michael Sung, Mr Jitesh Chhabria, Mr Derek Yip and Mr Steve Monaghan.
Sign up for our latest news