Five HKUST start-up teams win six awards at Entrepreneurship Competition “City I&T Grand Challenge”

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The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) start-up teams received most of the champions in the entrepreneurship competition “City I&T Grand Challenge”. The Hong Kong's first-ever “City I&T Grand Challenge” organised by the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) together with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), the competition concluded its two-day Grand Pitch and Finale at Hong Kong Science Park on 16th October. Winners from four categories were selected by a judging panel consisting of nine representatives from the government, industry, academic, and research sectors, including the Chief Executive of HKSAR.

Under the theme of "Innovating for Hong Kong's New Normal', the City I&T Grand Challenge invites different sectors of the community to develop I&T solutions focusing on two topics, namely "environmental sustainability" and "social connectivity". In an effort to enhance the awareness of I&T to new audiences and introduce technology opportunities to a broader group of future entrepreneurs, the competition is divided into four categories, including primary school, secondary school, university/tertiary institute, and open group. The event has received more than 740 submissions from over 1,250 local and non-local contestants on an individual or team basis. A total of 120 solutions were shortlisted to enter the Grand Pitch on October 15, and 24 of them went all the way to the Finale to compete for the top prizes.

After multiple rounds of selection, the HKUST teams received a total of six awards including three out of four championships in the Open Group and University/ Tertiary Group - championship in the Open Group of “Social Connectivity” obtained by StoryTell AR, the championship in the University/ Tertiary Group of “Social Connectivity” obtained by PanopticAI and the championship in the University/ Tertiary Group of “Environment Sustainability” obtained by The Able Company.  Meanwhile, The Able Company has also won the “Most Favoured Awards” while two other HKUST teams PointFit Tech and Planeteers have received “Innovation Awards”(project details in Appendix).

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At the award presentation ceremony, the Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, said "Hong Kong's I&T industry was flourishing at the moment. To sustain this good momentum, Hong Kong was keen to develop a more comprehensive I&T ecosystem.” Mrs Lam especially praised HKUST for our achievements in promoting start-ups. In addition, the government would explore the applications of the HKUST’s innovation & technology as a trial in designated venues, such as government departments or public organizations. These would provide opportunities for these up-and-coming innovators to turn their ideas into real-world.

Acting Director cum Head, Entrepreneurship Centre (EC) of HKUST, Mr Donny Siu, said “The Entrepreneurship Centre of HKUST has been actively working with different schools & faculties of the university to provide entrepreneurial opinions, to cultivate a risk-taking and value-creation mindset into our students to become future innovation and technology leaders. We encourage students to use innovative technologies to solve global problems and make the world a better place. These awards reassure us about the strategic direction of fostering knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship development. The Center will continue to strive for the largest university-based incubator in Hong Kong, and to provide seed grants to start-ups, social enterprises, and innovative student projects, to promote the development of local innovation and entrepreneurship.” Moreover, he added that we are very pleased to have the government’s support of the HKUST startups — the winners of the University/Tertiary Institute and Open groups — to enter the trial and adoption phase in which their solutions will be refined for trials at designated venues. EC will continue providing necessary support to the teams and facilitating their development and implementation.

On the other hand, jointly organized by the HKUST Entrepreneurship Center (EC) and Technology Transfer Center (TTC), the Technopreneurship (Tech-Ship) Program aims at bringing together faculty technologies with student entrepreneurship development by providing a platform that introduces faculty research outcomes. The winning teams PanopticAI & PointFit Tech, are both the start-up teams cultivated by the Tech-Ship Program.

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According to the figures of the EC and TTC of HKUST, the number of newly established start-ups cultivated by the Centre has shown a steady upward trend in recent years. HKUST has on average 70 – 80 startup companies newly established per year with a 20% growth rate. In 2020/2021, HKUST approved approximately HK$15 million to support the development of start-up companies of the university through the five intramural funding schemes of the EC and TTC. Regarding the types of entrepreneurship, the center has noticed that there have been many epidemic-related entrepreneurial projects in recent months, covering public health, medical care, social and interpersonal relations, office automation, and property management technology, etc.

HKUST has always promoted innovation. Through various projects and activities, including entrepreneurial competitions, mentorship programs, professional guidance, workshops, seminars, workspaces, and industry matching, etc., University could create a good entrepreneurial ecological environment and cultivate students' entrepreneurial spirit. EC of HKUST has provided various assistance and consulting services for more than 350 entrepreneurial projects and plans in 2020/2021 (as of 30th May 2021), and the number has increased by more than 15% over the previous year. The Centre has recently received more than HK$9 million funding from the Home Affairs Bureau and the Youth Development Committee to launch the "HKUST Greater Bay Area Youth Entrepreneurship Fund Program" to support students, alumni, schools, and faculties in entrepreneurship in the Greater Bay Area development.

To learn more or watch playback of all webinars, please visit the competition's website ( The list of winners of the City I&T Grand Challenge can be retrieved at a website (

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Remote learning made simple


Open Group

Champion (Social Connectivity)


StoryTellAR is an application specially designed to educate and maintain children's social connections, effectively reducing the impact of the pandemic on society.

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University/ Tertiary Institute

Champion (Social Connectivity)


PanopticAI is applying the research result of “camera detection technology” developed by the Associate Dean of Engineering (Research & Graduate Studies) of HKUST Prof. Richard So’s, and adding new features to simulate Chinese medical detection. It can tell one’s health and stress conditions by checking the blood vessels under the skin.

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The Able Company

University/ Tertiary Institute

Champion (Environment Sustainability) &

Most Favoured Awards 

The Able Company has been developing the recycling business of surplus bread since 2019. In the process, they discovered that the local bakeries discard nearly 1,700 metric tons of unsold bread every day. Therefore, they came up with a plan: to transform the remaining bread and pancakes crust into pale beer. The Able Company's research and development products are now available in five restaurants under the Jardine Catering Group and Maxim's Group and planned to expand to other retail locations. The company is currently one of the cultivating targets of The Science and Technology Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) of the Hong Kong Science Park. They have also received multiple awards in the "HKUST-Sino Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition 2021", including HKUST Student Team Gold Award and Elevator Pitch Award.

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University/ Tertiary Institute

Innovation Awards

Planeteers practice the same concept of waste reduction in another way. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are buying take-out food, so the number of plastic tableware discarded in landfills has also surged. Therefore, the team made a set of edible whole-wheat spoons, forks, and chopsticks, which can be eaten together after the meal. This set of vegan and biodegradable tableware is expected to replace 9 metric tons of disposable tableware and thus will reduce the carbon emissions equivalent to planting 11 thousand trees by 2023.

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PointFit Tech

University/ Tertiary Institute

Innovation Awards

PointFit Tech has developed a sweat sensor system that can monitor athletes’ muscle fatigue. It applies an ultra-thin antibacterial nano-film to monitor, with a mobile phone application, it can monitor muscle fatigue. At the same time, it can observe the athlete’s stress level to avoid the excessive practice. The operating principle of the system is to analyze the sweat of the athletes to understand indicators such as cortisol, to judge the physical condition, and assist the sports team to adjust the training program. The team participated in the "HKUST-Sino Million Bonus Entrepreneurship Competition" and received the silver award.

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