The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced it will be opening an accelerator space in Hong Kong next year, which will “help students learn how to move ideas more rapidly from lab to market.” This “Innovation Node” will be the first of its kind, and as MIT sees it, Hong Kong is the perfect place to start.
“Universities in Hong Kong are very strong and the city has significant business expertise,” Rafael Reif, President of MIT, told the Wall Street Journal.
In addition to its own status as a key financial centre in Asia, with a growing reputation for “risk capital”, Hong Kong is also neighboured by manufacturing hub Shenzhen, where prototypes can be produced cheaply and in small volumes.
While MIT already has a presence in Japan and Singapore, the organisation intends for Hong Kong to be its first innovation-centric location, focused on driving collaboration between MIT and Hong Kong students on commercially viable projects. The facility will be coordinated and advised by a team of MIT alumni.
“Building on MIT’s long record of engagement in Hong Kong and mainland China, the Innovation Node will allow many different MIT programs to imagine week, month and summer-long experiences that enrich education, research, and our connection to real-world opportunities for impact,” says Fiona Murray, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Co-Director of the Innovation Initiative.
This announcement will no doubt only serve to fuel the start-up fever currently taking off in Hong Kong’s corporate sector. Hong Kong start-ups are reported to have secured $33.7 million in funding last year; more than twice what they received in 2012. Large real estate firms are currently trying to boost this market by enticing small tech companies into the city with attractive deals on office space.
“By bringing MIT to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to MIT, the Innovation Node will deepen MIT’s activities in Hong Kong and, through Hong Kong, in the entire Pearl River Delta region,” says Reif. “In creating this node in Hong Kong, MIT is committing to advancing our engagement with the region in a mutually beneficial way.”