In early 2022 when Hong Kong was hit hard by the fifth wave of the pandemic, we moved swiftly to provide vital and holistic support to the community. We launched the “Free Online Consultation Service for COVID-19 Patients” to conduct online health consultations with patients and provide a medicine delivery to home service. With the generous support of the Tencent Charity Foundation, our Chinese medicine practitioners had conducted over 41,000 consultations. We also cooperated with NGOs and the Hospital Authority to deliver remote medical services to elderly residents of over 100 care homes, and later our Chinese medicine practitioners supported the operation of around 400 beds in the Kai Tak Holding Centre. In addition, social work experts from the University provided emotional support to the patients. Such initiatives eased much of the pressure on the public healthcare system and strengthened the role of Chinese medicine within it. Furthermore, they have demonstrated our commitment to safeguarding public health with our strengths and expertise.
Around the world, cutting-edge developments in digital technology have opened up new horizons in the world of arts. To nurture the next generation of creative talent for Hong Kong, we established the School of Creative Arts earlier this year. The School consists of the Academy of Film, Academy of Music and Academy of Visual Arts. It provides an ideal platform where the best art and artists can emerge and converge. It will also enable us to explore the infinite possibilities of the unknown with art-tech, take the development of the creative arts to a higher level, and set new standards for future teaching and research.
It is widely acknowledged that the increasingly complex global challenges cannot be easily addressed by a single discipline. In response to the growing demand for talent who can transcend disciplines to ideate for innovation in different sectors of society, we are offering four new transdisciplinary programmes, namely, Arts and Technology, Global Entertainment, Innovation in Health and Social Well-Being, and Arts, Science and Technology in the academic year 2022-23. While each programme has been designed differently, they share the common goal of fostering future-ready students with a broad academic foundation and a comprehensive range of competencies by integrating science and the humanities, so that students are well-prepared for their careers and the life challenges ahead.
Thanks to the efforts of our artists and scientists, at HKBU we stand at the forefront of the rapidly expanding art-tech field and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in artistic disciplines. An art-tech research project entitled “Building Platform Technologies for Symbiotic Creativity in Hong Kong” has been awarded HK$52.8 million in funding from the Theme-based Research Scheme under the Research Grants Council (RGC). We feel encouraged as this is the first time that major funding has been allocated by the RGC for an art-tech project, and it is a recognition of HKBU’s excellence and leadership in this area.
As an initial output of the project, our multidisciplinary research team successfully staged an innovative human-machine collaboration between the HKBU Symphony Orchestra and our AI super artists at the Annual Gala Concert in July 2022. As the first of its kind in the world, the concert showcased how HKBU is using technology to push the envelope of human imagination in the arts and cultural sphere, and it was also a vivid example of how our innovations can be translated to have an impact on the world.
To further strengthen our capability to translate innovative research outcomes and inventions into real-life applications that benefit society, we established the Institute for Innovation, Translation and Policy Research (ITPR) in June 2022. ITPR aims to drive strategic alliances, collaborations, multidisciplinary R&D and its application. Given our creativity and unique strengths, I expect we will be making great strides in translational research and innovation in the time to come.
As the COVID-19 situation appears to be more stable, I look forward to another exciting year ahead. With the support of the HKSAR Government and the Nation, I am confident that we can further HKBU and Hong Kong’s status as an international hub for art-tech, Chinese medicine, education and transdisciplinary research.
Ping-kong Alexander Wai
President and Vice-Chancellor
Chair Professor of Photonics