MIT Is Opening An Innovation Center In Hong Kong

Hong Kong is to be the location for a startup accelerator-style center of innovation from famed tech-focused U.S. university MIT.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (better know as MIT) announced today that it will open its first ever “Innovation Node” in the Asian city-state next summer. The center will be a startup incubator of sorts which MIT said will “[combine] resources and talent… to help students learn how to move ideas more rapidly from lab to market.”

That’s much like an incubator program but, beyond that, it will provide research opportunities with Hong Kong universities, a platform for events and community activity, and internships. There are also plans to open a makerspace for prototyping and testing new hardware and technology, which would be closely aligned a similar facility that MIT is currently building in the U.S..

It’s no coincidence that MIT has picked Hong Kong. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the organization’s president — Rafael Reif — cited the city’s status as a financial hub and its proximity to centers of innovation as key reasons.

“Universities in Hong Kong are very strong and the city has significant business expertise,” Reif said. “In addition to that, you also have manufacturing infrastructure in Shenzhen that can handle small volume manufacturing.”

Shenzhen, the South China city increasingly known as the world’s manufacturing hub, is a key part of the focus.

“The idea is to facilitate a way for MIT and Hong Kong students to collaborate physically or virtually to drive ideas toward commercialization. For instance, medical devices, sensors, or robotics could be prototyped on the MIT campus or at the node, tested in the Boston or Hong Kong regions, and have small quantities manufactured in Shenzhen,” MIT explained in a blog post.

Japan, Chile and Singapore are the locations for MIT’s international centers, but the upcoming base in Hong Kong is the first that is dedicated to innovation and based outside of the U.S..

A collection of MIT alumni based in Hong Kong will advise the center and help coordinate programs. Some alumni are also among a group that provided initial financing for the project.