MARCH 2015
HKUST Hosts IdeasLab at World Economic Forum
(Top, from Left) Prof Pedro Sander, Prof Pascale Fung, Prof Tony F Chan, Prof Khaled Ben Letaief and Prof Qiang Yang; (Bottom) Four HKUST professors host an IdeasLab at Winter Davos.

HKUST President Prof Tony F Chan led a delegation comprising four senior professors to attend for the third time the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual conference in Davos, Switzerland on 21-24 January 2015. HKUST was the only Asian university to conduct an IdeasLab this year at WEF, also known as the “Winter Davos”. The University joined an exclusive club of world-leading universities to host this year’s IdeasLab that featured the University of Oxford, Harvard University, the MIT, Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon University.

President Chan, a member of the Global University Leaders Forum, (GULF), which consists of the world’s top 25 universities, was invited to co-host a panel discussion on “University-Industry Collaboration in the 21st Century” together with the presidents of Harvard University and Imperial College London at the Forum. The trio explored how corporate-university partnerships could reap benefits for both sides, and raised examples of different partnerships, highlighting various models and their benefits and challenges for universities. President Chan noted that collaborations with the private sector had grown significantly in recent years, and suggested the Huawei-HKUST Innovation Laboratory as a feasible model of industry-university research collaboration.

At the Ideaslab hosted by HKUST, our four senior professors explored with other renowned scholars and experts from around the world on what integration of the physical and cyber worlds would mean to the human society. Dean of Engineering Prof Khaled Ben Letaief argued that 5G technology will be a game changer by bringing tactile internet to life, which enables an unforeseeable plurality of new applications in E-health, connected homes, secure transport, education, robotics and much more. New Bright Professor of Engineering and Head of Computer Science and Engineering Prof Qiang Yang shared his views on how this new integrated world could be built through big data and artificial intelligence. Prof Pascale Fung from the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering claimed that robots of tomorrow would not only communicate but also empathize with human beings to provide assistance and work as partners. Finally, Prof Pedro Sander from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering discussed the possibility of creating a detailed visual history data base of the globe, and what challenges the process might bring in image capturing and rendering.

President Chan said the University was honored to participate in this important annual event. “The WEF serves as a great platform for different sectors in the world to discuss the most pressing issues and brings influence to the international agenda. I hope that HKUST – as an intellectual engine in pursuit of new knowledge and research breakthroughs – can help address some of the global challenges that were brought up.”

Around 2,500 global leaders attended the WEF this year. Attendees included state leaders, such as Chinese Premier Keqiang Li, US Secretary of State John Kerry, business heavyweights such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Alibaba’s Jack Yun Ma, and key financial policy shapers, including Governor of the People’s Bank of China Xiaochuan Zhou and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

Videos – Our four professors at the Ideaslab hosted by HKUST

5G Disruptive Technologies and Ubiquitous Communications by Prof Khaled Letaief:

Blurring the Boundary Between the Digital and Physical World by Prof Qiang Yang:

Computer Graphics: Closing the Gap on Reality by Prof Pedro Sander:

Talking to Machines by Prof Pascale Fung: