Research Boost as HKUST Establishes National Engineering Centers

In a key move for research in Hong Kong, HKUST has established two branches of the Chinese National Engineering Research Centers (CNERC).

The Hong Kong Branch of CNERC for Control and Treatment of Heavy Metal Pollution, directed by Prof Guanghao Chen, Chair Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Hong Kong Branch of CNERC for Tissue Restoration and Reconstruction, directed by Prof Benzhong Tang, Stephen Kam Chuen Cheong Professor of Science and Chair Professor of Chemistry, are set to play a significant role in future research initiatives and collaborations. Each will receive annual support of up to HK$5 million from the Innovation and Technology Commission.

The approval of the two research centers by the State Ministry of Science and Technology brings the number of national research facilities at HKUST to four. Two Partner State Key Laboratories focused on Advanced Displays & Optoelectronics Technologies and Molecular Neuroscience have already been established, led by Prof Hoi-Sing Kwok, Dr William M W Mong Professor of Nanotechnology and Chair Professor of Electronic and Computer Engineering, and Prof Nancy Ip, The Morningside Professor of Life Science and Chair Professor of Division of Life Science, respectively.

The CNERC on heavy metal pollution will address the increasing national need for a clean water supply, exploring energy-saving sewage treatment, optimization of water systems and cost-effective sustainable alternative water resources. The center will bring together water-related experts, academics and engineers from Hong Kong, Mainland China and overseas to study and develop novel techniques for adoption by industry. Prof Chen and his research team have achieved international renown for their innovative technologies on wastewater treatment in the past 10 years. These include the SANI process, which treats sewage through a method that minimizes sludge production and saves space and cost in treatment, as shown by the large-scale trial at Sha Tin Sewage Treatment Works.

The tissue-based center will explore new luminescent materials and their hi-tech applications in biomedical sensors and chemical probes. The center will also foster collaborative activities between academics, the research community, and industry in and beyond Hong Kong.

Prof Gang Wan, Vice-Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Minister of Science and Technology, officiated at the ceremony at HKUST for the establishment of the two branches.

HKUST President Prof Tony F Chan said that the University seeks to boost technological advancement in the region by fostering research cooperation. “The addition of two new national research centers is bound to add momentum to scientific collaboration across the border as well as our pursuit of research excellence.”