Hong Kong and MIT Students Impress With Intensive Tech Entrepreneurship
MIT’s new facility in Hong Kong, The Node, hosted the third MEMSI program. Students from MIT and Hong Kong universities forego sleep to invent a new product and business plan. One has already come to market.
Obsessive parents, obsessive dancers, obsessive adult children, slouchers and amnesiac socialisers are on the hitlist of the millennial inventors from Hong Kong and MIT.
MIT is increasing its presence in Hong Kong with the launch of a new dedicated facility inside the Hong Kong Productivity Council. It hosted the third wave of the MEMSI program: the MIT Entrepreneurship and Maker Skills Integrator.
“This is exactly the kind of collaboration between Hong Kong and MIT we aim to support with this new center.”
Brian Yen, Executive Director, MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node
“I’ve watched these students meet, gel and get to work 24/7 to create some pretty amazing products in only two weeks,” said Brian Yen, Executive Director of the newly completed MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node. “This is exactly the kind of collaboration between Hong Kong and MIT we aim to support with this new center.”
14 MIT students flew from Boston to the Fragrant Harbour and were introduced to 16 select Hong Kong students to invent for two weeks. Design, computer science, engineering and business students created prototypes and investor decks to be evaluated by a star panel of judges. MIT alum and former Financial Secretary of Hong Kong, John Tsang was on hand and full of pride for the old school with some of the investment community he invited along.
And the winner was: Sella. In two weeks, the B-Savy team of five created a working prototype of a chair that vibrates when your posture slumps into a danger zone. Connected apps can track when you are most likely to deflate, where your weight goes, and offer helpful tips to keep you on the straight and upright. Team member Jake Becraft, a Ph.D. student in Biological Engineering at MIT, had the intersection of insurtech with his IOT product on his mind. Their business plan was to build a market first and then take the data to potential insurance companies who may seek to reduce back pain and related claims in big companies by offering incentives for using the chair.
The people’s choice award went to Team Mu, who had a product that combined face and voice recognition to help people identify those they had already met when a second encounter arose – the perfect product for politicians and socialites. Other products aimed to help parents abroad connect to their small children through robots and video display, create a motion-tracking selfie-stick for solo dancers and athletes looking to study themselves and up their game, and activity trackers for children monitoring their independent-living elderly parents.
Students also had a session with entrepreneurs who spoke about developing products ranging from an app serving the Taiwan (and now Hong Kong) consumer market to real products like Lumos, the illuminating bike helmet for night riders. This also included an advisor, Herman Pang of Dragon Innovation, who specialised in helping North American startups move from snazzy prototype to China based mass production – a rocky shore for many startups upon which their dreams are dashed.
‘One of the entrepreneur advisors, Julianna Ko of Bonnect, had her start in the first iteration of the MEMSI program and has brought a product to market…’
One of the entrepreneur advisors, Julianna Ko of Bonnect, had her start in the first iteration of the MEMSI program and has brought a product to market that helps parents monitor their baby’s nutritional intake. With less than reliable reporting from a pantheon of feeders found in a traditional Asian household, ranging from domestic helpers to multiple grandparents, parents can find out how much their babies are really consuming.
Whether these products become full blown category killers is one thing, but the experience and connections made by these world class students will ideally drive forward innovation and collaboration across the Pacific.
See the NexChange video interviews with the entrepreneurs at our YouTube channel by clicking here.