The University of Hong Kong (HKU) reaped a total of ten awards at the Special Edition 2021 Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days. The University’s “Flu-based COVID-19 Vaccine” was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal with Congratulations of the Jury whilst the “Innovative Sewage Testing Tool for SARS-CoV-2” received a Gold Medal, and eight other inventions won three Gold Medals and five Silver Medals in total. This year’s competition is a first-ever special virtual-only edition of The International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva (“IEIG”), one of the most significant global annual events devoted exclusively to inventions. Around 600 inventions from about 20 countries were evaluated on virtual platforms by the international jury of specialists from 10 to 14 March 2021. HKU has received 28 awards, including 14 gold medals since its first participation in 2018.
HKU’s award-winning inventions in 2021:
Gold Medal with Congratulations of the Jury
Flu-based COVID-19 Vaccine
This is the first nasal spray vaccine for COVID-19 in clinical trial, which is based on a unique live attenuated flu vaccine technology platform (DelNS1 LAIV). It expresses a specific antigen to induce immunity targeting the critical element of the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2. This flu-based COVID-19 vaccine was developed by the research team led by Professor Honglin Chen, Dr Pui Wang, Professor Zhiwei Chen and Professor Kwok-Yung Yuen from the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine of HKU.
- Innovative Sewage Testing Tool for SARS-CoV-2
This is a sewage testing tool for SARS-CoV-2 which was used to assist the Hong Kong Government in planning compulsory testing of infected areas and uncovering hidden COVID-19 cases. It was developed by a team led by Ir Professor Tong Zhang from the Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Professor Leo Lit Man Poon, Professor Malik Peiris, Professor Gabriel Leung and Dr Hein Min Tun of the School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine of HKU. (Ref)
- Direct Thermal Charging Cell (DTCC)
It is a novel invention for converting low-grade heat to electricity under isothermal operation, surpassing all existing types of thermoelectrochemical systems. It was developed by a research team led by Dr Shien-Ping Feng of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering of HKU. Other team members include Dr Yu-Ting Huang, Miss Xinya Wu and Mr Chunlin Pang from the same department. (Ref)
- Light-controlled Contamination-free Fluidic Processor
This invention processes all fluids of diverse volumes and properties in a loss-free, touch-free and precise manner, using a single beam of light. It can serve as a useful tool to greatly reduce the risk of infection of front-line medical workers in testing virus or bacteria in pandemics, and to minimise the risk of contamination during the process. It was developed by Professor Liqiu Wang and his colleagues, Dr Xin Tang and Mr Wei Li, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering of HKU. (Ref)
- Ultra-Strong and Ductile Steel with Low Price and Easy Manufacturing
This is a new type of steel with ultra-high strength and good ductility, which can be manufactured easily at low cost. This invention could serve as an alternative material in the automotive and aerospace industries which have high demand for lightweight and energy-efficient materials. It was developed by Professor Huang Mingxin and his PhD student, Mr Chengpeng Huang, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering of HKU.
- A Nanofibrous Composite Membrane Air Filter
It is composed of fibres with different functions blended or hierarchically arranged to achieve anti-wetting, breathability and efficient air pollutant removal. The filter is designed to be reusable after simple washing for sustainable use and can be applied in reusable face masks with novel asymmetric nanostructure and tailored air filtration functions, addressing the critical shortage of masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was developed by a team of undergraduate students, led by Mr Junwei Zhang and Ms Yan Tung Lo and under the supervision of Professor Chuyang Tang and Dr Hao Guo of the Department of Civil Engineering of HKU. (Ref)
- A Soft Underwater Manipulation System
It is a dexterous soft underwater manipulation system for general underwater work purposes. It has four innovative features including zero weight-in-water, ambient water pressure independence, embedded waterproofing sensors and cost-effectiveness for underwater intervention applications. It was developed by the research team of Professor Zheng Wang, Dr Xiaojiao Chen, Ms Jing Li, Mr Yafei Zhao, Ms Hua Zhong and Mr Runzhi Zhang from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering of HKU. (Ref)
- Microfluidic Platform for Metastasis Detection and Drug Discovery
A microfluidic tool captures metastatic cancer cells for diagnostic and drug screening purposes. It works best with ovarian cancer, colorectal, gastric and prostate cancers. The tool can differentiate metastatic and non-metastatic cells by biochemical and biophysical characteristics of individual cells. It was developed by a research team including Dr Shanshan Li, Dr Ms Ka-Man Ip, Dr Kei Shuen Tang and Professor Ho-Cheung Shum, led by Professor Alice S. T. Wong from the School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science of HKU.
- Momentus Robotics – MR-safe Actuators
This comprises a robust set of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-safe hydraulic motors and custom robotic systems for use within the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) environment. The technology allows efficient power transmission to robotic components between the MRI room and the control room over a distance of up to 10m, allowing completely safe operations in the MRI. It was developed by Professor Ka-Wai Kwok, Dr Guo Ziyan, Dr Dong Ziyang, Dr Lee Kit Hang Brian, Mr Ho Justin Di-lang and Mr Tang Wai Lun from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering of HKU. (Ref)
- Universal Fracture Healing Accelerator for External Fixators
A plug-in device for common external fixators for accelerating fracture healing by applying micromotion and reducing the incidence of nonunion. The sensors and controllers help maintain optimal biomechanical conditions at the fracture site to enhance callus formation. It was developed by the research team of Professor Frankie Ka-li Leung, Dr Weichen Qi and Dr Xiaoreng Feng from the Department of Orthopaedics & Traumatology, Faculty of Medicine of HKU.
The University’s participation in this year’s competition was coordinated by the Technology Transfer Office of HKU.
For details about the International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva, please visit: https://inventions-geneva.ch/en/home/.
About Technology Transfer Office, HKU
he Technology Transfer Office (TTO) manages the use of the intellectual property assets of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) by providing patenting, licensing and other commercialisation support to the University’s researchers. Acting as the bridge linking HKU to society in the area of technology commercialisation, TTO facilitates industries and businesses to access HKU’s powerhouse of knowledge, innovation and expertise through close collaboration. Website: https://www.tto.hku.hk.