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 “Solve for X @ HKUST” Conference


The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) jointly organized with Google the inaugural “Solve for X @ HKUST” Conference in Hong Kong on 13 November 2015, Friday. Five innovators shared at the conference their Moonshot projects, radical solutions utilizing breakthrough technology to solve big global problems facing humanity. 


Keynote speakers from Google included Ms Susan Pointer, Google’s Senior Director Public Policy & Government Relations, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa & Russia; Mr Dominic Allon, Managing Director of Google Hong Kong; Ms Emily Ma, Head of Special Projects, Business Innovation, X; and Ms Georgia Dienst, Program Lead of Solve for X. This by-invitation only event gather 100 top-notch thought leaders including faculty members, scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and finally, Ph.D. research students who were being groomed to be future Moonshot innovators. Through the intimate and highly interactive discussions and cross-disciplined brainstorm, this flipped conference aimed to offer the moonshot innovators insights to make their bold ideas into real world products and thriving businesses that can generate impactful changes, contribute to Hong Kong’s economy and serve the world.

The Solve for X project was born out of Google[X] in 2012 with the mission to create a global ecosystem of Moonshots and support individuals or teams to bring their Moonshots to life.  It has been collaborating with prestigious institutions and organizations in science and technology to bring great innovations forward. HKUST was invited to collaborate with Solve for X to jointly organize the first Solve for X event in Hong Kong.

A Moonshot involves solving a huge problem that impacts millions of lives, a radical solution, and breakthrough science or technology. Some famous Moonshot examples include Google Glass, the Self-Driving Car, Project Loon (balloon-powered internet), and more. 

In his welcome remarks, Prof Wei Shyy, Executive Vice President & Provost of HKUST, said “We are excited about the partnership with Solve for X which shares the same vision with the University to contribute to the betterment of all through technological innovations and breakthroughs.  This event is an essential platform to propel our research from ‘Excellent’ to ‘Excellent and Impactful’ at a grand scale.”

Prof Betty Lin, Associate Director and Associate Professor of Business Education of HKUST said, “Having worked closely with Solve for X teams for more than a year, I find the philosophy, methods and processes of Solve for X can bring great value to the Hong Kong innovation community.  Solve for X forces innovators to focus on not just breakthrough science and technology, but also radical business innovation and have the heart to solve humanity’s grand challenges. This is good stuff.” 

Five moonshots presented today covered a wide spectrum of research areas and the projects have been vetted by the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellows.  They are:

Mass-volume graphene production using waste carbon emission, by Prof Michael Sung of the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering at HKUST and Dr James Sung from Carbon Blue Technologies – Graphene has been identified as an ideal next-generation material for batteries, but there is currently no way to mass-produce it.  The team can convert waste gas into low-cost ultra-high quality graphene for production of battery anodes at an industrial scale to enable the electric vehicle battery market.

Make hearts, Save hearts, by Prof Ronald Li, Founding Director of the Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Consortium (SCRMC) and S Y and H Y Cheng Endowed Professor in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at The University of Hong Kong. Prof Li has developed the first-and-only-in-the-world technology to clone personalized blood-ejecting human heart chambers within just a few weeks.  The generation of banks of cloned human hearts can be used for pharmaceutical and clinical purposes.

Sonikure – Non-invasive retinal disease treatment via low-energy ultrasound, by Mr Langston Suen, PhD Candidate of Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at HKUST. Traditional needle injection of medication into the eyeball for patients suffering from retinal diseases is a painful and invasive process.  To tackle the problem, Mr Suen has developed Sonikure, a technology based on non-invasive, low energy ultrasound to deliver drugs into patient’s eyes.

PulseWater, by Ms Grace Hanrong Zhang, MPhil student in Technology Leadership and Entrepreneurship at HKUST.  PulseWater is a low-cost mobile device that cleans water and removes 99% of diseasing causing microbes using pulse electric field technology.

NanoDeW, by Prof King Lun Yeung of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering & Division of Environment at HKUST. Prof Yeung has developed NanoDew, a new material that allows sustained removal of moisture above dew point temperature without the need for cooling or heating. It can be used for air dehumidification, as well as water harvester for remote villages to supply precious water. This technology can potentially lower global electricity demand with a monetary saving of US$2 billion annually, while reducing gas emission and air pollution.


Videos to share:

Solve for X @ HKUST Overview [YouTube]

Ms. Georgia Dienst, Solve for X – Welcome Speech [YouTube]

Ms. Emily Ma, Google X – Welcome Speech [YouTube]

Mr. Langston Suen, HKUST: Sonikure - Non-invasive retinal disease treatment via low-energy ultrasound [YouTube] [SFX Page]

Prof. Ronald Li, HKU: Make Hearts, Save Hearts [YouTube] [SFX Page]

Mr. Dominic Allon, Google Hong Kong – Keynote Speech [YouTube]

Prof. King Lun Yeung, HKUST - Water and Moisture Solution (NanoDeW) [YouTube]

Ms. Grace Hanrong Zhang - Safe Water for The World (PulseWater) [YouTube] [SFX Page]

Prof. Michael Sung, HKUST: Mass production of graphene [YouTube] [SFX Page]

Ms. Susan Pointer, Google - Keynote Speech  [YouTube]

Prof. King Chow, HKUST – Closing Speech [YouTube


To participate:

Deadline to submit your 2-pager moonshot proposal: 7 March 2016

Contents of the 2-pagers simply has to include

  •          Innovator 1-paragraph intro and contact
  •          Moonshot slogan and 1-liner
  •          Huge problem
  •          Radical solution
  •          Breakthrough technology



Email: sfxathkust@gmail.com ; we will keep you posted on future plans

Website: www.solveforx.com for all moonshot projects past and present and future