3Q: Charles Sodini on MIT’s Hong Kong Innovation Node

Last November, MIT announced the launch of the Hong Kong Innovation Node, a collaborative room that aims to connect the MIT community with resources — including advanced manufacturing capabilities — as well as other possibilities in Hong-Kong and neighboring Pearl River Delta. Ever since then, the Innovation Node has convened MIT pupils, faculty, and researchers to get results on entrepreneurial and studies alongside Hong Kong-based students and professors, MIT alumni, business owners, and companies. By combining sources and talent, the Innovation Node — in partnership with the MIT Innovation Initiative — is designed to assist pupils learn how to go tips quicker from laboratory to promote. 

Charles Sodini, the Clarence J. LeBel Professor in Electrical Engineering and faculty director associated with node, spoke with MIT News concerning the Innovation Node’s activities since its launch.

Q. Just what has got the Hong Kong Innovation Node accomplished up to now?

A. The Innovation Node officially launched in Summer with MIT Kickstart, a technology-based entrepreneurship program concerning 12 MIT students and 12 students from universities across Hong Kong. The immersive system challenged students to bring their particular tips to affect by developing international groups, building rapid prototypes, and pitching their tasks.  

Students participated in workshops led by industry experts, had been coached by alumni teachers, and visited neighborhood startups and production services in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong into the Pearl River Delta. This program culminated in a last session in which students provided their work and demonstrated their particular prototypes. This display ended up being attended by over 100 folks, including MIT alumni, senior government and academic officials, entrepreneurs, and industry frontrunners.

We’ve also made two great hires when it comes to Innovation Node: Brian Yen as executive manager, and Marina Chan as strategic development manager. In Brian, we have a veteran of startups in technologies including video gaming, electric medical records, and medical instruments. Since moving to Hong-Kong in 2005, he has already been a consultant to U.S. technology companies trying to spend or companion in China, plus investors needing detailed evaluation of Chinese technology businesses. Marina started her job inside investment financial business, before making the woman master’s degree in knowledge from Harvard University. Her passion for training led the girl to receive Alpha Commons, an educational program that cultivates creativity in children through involvement with technology.  

Q. What’s been the reaction of those who’ve caused or participated in the Innovation Node?

A. Pupil comments from MIT Kickstart has-been truly good. A common theme is the fact that knowledge was exclusively eye-opening: members learned all about the complexity of large-scale manufacturing processes directly, driving residence the amount of it will take to carry a product from design to production — plus the social nuances to do company in Asia. Students reported an innovative new understanding for exactly how advanced level the technology is, and for Asia’s place being a global player. Various emerged away by way of a better grasp that the potential of manufacturing in this region is huge, but needs comprehension of industry and what is important toward local customer to be successful. The ability exposed their particular eyes to your options and value of worldwide collaboration.

When working together with intercontinental peers, one participant pointed out exactly how he had been “blown away by people’s aspiration, creativity, drive, enthusiasm and cleverness.” This will be testimony to the huge skill both in areas and also the need for producing such opportunities to connect connections. Students just who came through our system have proceeded to stay in touch using node and with one another.

Beyond this system, the node has actually facilitated help for pupils via introductions to industry mentors, incubation programs, and Chinese businesses specializing in low-volume manufacturing and prototyping. We discovered that students worth these contacts while they commence to you should consider bringing their particular ideas to the next level. We want to be considered a crucial way to obtain support for all of them because they navigate the Chinese hardware system startup ecosystem.

Q. What’s the Innovation Node focusing on now? What exactly are its after that measures?

A. The node will launch its second system, the MIT Entrepreneurship and Maker techniques Integrator (MEMSI), in January. This two-week, fully immersive mini-accelerator for aspiring innovators will link MIT students with regards to colleagues from universities in Hong Kong.

MEMSI is perfect for students who want to develop abilities in entrepreneurship, equipment production, and item development for connected devices. Groups works collectively to decide on a person problem to solve, comprehend clients’ needs, establish option, and develop a model utilizing advanced strategies; build abilities that will help them build successful companies later on in life; and see size manufacturing immediately during factory trips in Shenzhen, China. After the two-week program, individuals will show their particular company some ideas and prototypes up to a panel of entrepreneurs, people, and industry frontrunners.

Eventually, we’re searching for a permament home for the Innovation Node in Hong Kong, to generate an interesting physical space for collaboration, link, and making. We’re pursuing an open working environment equipped with technology comparable to the manufacturer equipment at MIT, and linked digitally into MIT campus.