CUHK Diamond Jubilee University Presidents' Forum



About CUHK

3 Foreword






Panel 1

Disrupt or be Disrupted: Reimagining Higher Education in the Age of Disruption


Panel 2

Balancing Papers and Products: Shaping the Innovation and Research Agenda


Panel 3

More of the “Town and Gown”: The Role of External Partnerships in Amplifying Impact


Panel 4

Snail’s Pace to the Innovation Race: How Management is Responding to the Innovation Imperative




Event Snapshots


CUHK Facts and Figures


Founded in 1963, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) is a forward-looking comprehensive research university that has become an internationally renowned centre of excellence in education and research. With a founding philosophy to combine tradition with modernity and to bring together China and the West, CUHK sets itself apart from the others with its deep roots in Chinese culture, its emphasis on bilingualism and multiculturalism, and a unique college system. As a university with a worldwide footprint, CUHK teachers and students hail from across the globe with a network of over 250,000 alumni. We offer a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes through eight Faculties and a Graduate School, including one of only two medical schools in Hong Kong. We are the only university in Hong Kong that offers a collegiate system with nine Colleges. College programmes and activities complement the formal curricula by delivering whole- person education and pastoral care. Research lies at the heart of CUHK. A champion of research and innovation that creates value and brings

benefits to society, CUHK has been dedicated to promoting interdisciplinary research and knowledge transfer in the 21 st century. Among our most notable research achievements are the advances we have made in liquid biopsy in prenatal testing and early cancer detection, biotechnological improvements of soybean, molecular analysis for cancer and metabolic disease detection and treatment, drug development for rare neurodegenerative diseases, network coding theory that has revolutionised data transmission and network applications, and artificial intelligence and robotics for innovative technologies in biomedical and smart city applications. As we aspire to carry out the role of a civic university to achieve ‘Excellence with Purpose and Responsibility’, we are eager to further strengthen multidisciplinary collaborations and partnerships with academic institutions and industries around the world. The University attaches great importance to global engagement which has been at the core of CUHK since our founding. Our first student exchange programme was established with the University of California system in 1965. Today, CUHK has formal partnerships with over 480 universities and

institutions worldwide, ranging from teaching and research collaborations to faculty and student exchanges, among many other engagements. The University is also an active member of a number of national and international academic alliances, such as the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, the Worldwide Universities Network, the Association of University Presidents of China, and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau University Alliance, to name a few. CUHK celebrated its 60 th anniversary in 2023. The University took this major opportunity to cerebrate its achievements spanning six decades, and build links with students, staff, alumni, academic partners, industry leaders, as well as the general public. CUHK has connected brilliant minds with a shared mission of discovery and purpose in this boundless exploration of the unknown. We will continue to blaze new trails with our community spirit and transformative power, pushing the frontiers of knowledge to create a better future.

About CUHK




to change. It was a highlight of our 60 th anniversary celebrations, themed “Where Great Minds Shine”. Higher education has always served as an engine that drives change and transformation. As leaders of established and accomplished universities from around the globe, we have the unique responsibility and power to shape the future of education, research and innovation to meet the changing needs of students, industry, society and the planet. The Forum’s focus on innovation and “edupreneurship” can be transformative in this regard. These approaches have the potential to revolutionise the way we teach, conduct research, collaborate with external stakeholders, and govern our universities. They can also equip us to meet the growing expectations from society to provide solutions to their needs. By embracing change and new directions, universities can take the lead in addressing the great challenges of our times. The Forum’s participants shared insights

Throughout the last 1,000 years, universities have been among the most stable institutions in society. But over the past 60 years – a period coinciding with the establishment and development of CUHK – we have seen unprecedented change. The moon landing, the development of robotics and home computing, advances in medicine, the lifting of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and more, have all happened in our lifetimes. And now, with artificial intelligence, we are facing some of the most fundamental challenges ever. The CUHK Diamond Jubilee University Presidents’ Forum, titled “Innovation and Edupreneurship: The Shifting Research and Education Agenda”, brought together university presidents and leaders from 18 countries and regions in all inhabited continents to reimagine the evolving role of universities in the age of disruption, to consider the challenges and opportunities this presents to our education, research and engagement agenda, and to discuss how governance will need

and examples of how universities in different regions are adopting and adapting to the innovation imperative. This discussion is more important than ever because, as the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated, we must work together to address global challenges in the global village. The Forum brought to mind the wisdom of the sages. Confucius famously said, “Is it not a delight and a pleasure to have friends coming from afar?” It most certainly was so in this case, as we welcomed friends old and new from across the world. Our gathering also reinforced an African proverb that comes from the Nguni term ubuntu , which roughly translates as human kindness and goes thus: “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together!” It is my hope that the seeds sown at the Forum will take us very far indeed.

Rocky S Tuan Vice-Chancellor and President



The keynote speaker, Ms Nisa Leung, Managing Partner of Qiming Venture Partners, inspired the audience with an account of the astounding growth of the biotech industry in China and lessons that can be learned by all stakeholders. She was confident of mutually beneficial partnerships among industry, academia and government that would transform challenges into opportunities for a healthier world for generations to come. Discussion then turned to the broader international landscape, with panel participants focusing on the role of universities in a world of rapid change and how individual institutions could rise to the challenges. The first panel focused on the age of disruption and whether universities will disrupt or be disrupted. While universities have been among the most stable institutions over time, surviving wars and other upheavals, they now need to change in the face of new technologies. The pandemic was a dry run that demonstrated how quickly universities could alter teaching delivery and adopt new technologies. Panellists agreed insights from that experience should now be applied to AI, which is an even greater disruptor. Caution was noted regarding equity, however, as developing countries may not have easy access to technologies and students learning only online may miss out on the experiential benefits of learning in person.

The second panel focused on balancing innovation and research demands. Society wants researchers to produce products and services, while academia expects scholarly publications. The panellists noted that entrepreneurialism has been on the rise in the agendas of their institutions, most of which have introduced programmes to cultivate and promote innovation and start-ups. On the other hand, the need to emphasise innovation in recruitment and promotion must be balanced with the recognition of scholarship. After all, fundamental research is ultimately the key source of innovation. The third panel considered the “town and gown” relationship and how universities have moved beyond the ivory tower trope, particularly during COVID-19 when communities became very aware of universities’ expertise and contributions in containing the pandemic. There were multiple examples of how universities and local partners were working together to address other local issues, how universities contributed to local economies, and how they in turn benefitted from government and industry support. An important caveat is that industry and community expectations might not align with the timelines required of fundamental innovative research, which can take years to bear fruit. That consideration was explored in depth in the final panel on the pace of innovation and how universities are

evolving. Universities are traditionally governed through deliberation and collaboration, which works well in most circumstances, but is perhaps not sufficiently efficient for innovation. The panellists noted that innovation can be advanced through collaborations and supporting infrastructure, and they provided examples of how they are breaking down disciplinary boundaries, professionalising their innovation processes, investing in centres and facilities, and providing opportunities for staff and students to develop innovations into start-ups. A key consideration in this is the need to encourage people to take risks and work in teams. CUHK’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rocky S Tuan, brought the event to a close by stressing that universities must disrupt but also be prepared to be disrupted by innovations and other changes. They must come up with better and faster ways to enable tech transfer and empower students and staff to think outside the box. He reminded the audience not to underestimate the challenges and complexities that lie ahead in this transformation and encouraged the pursuit of meaningful collaborations to amplify and catalyse impact and to serve local, national and global communities. Lastly, he reminded university leaders not to forget their roots. Ultimately, universities need to strike a fine balance between embracing change and preserving their core values and traditions, in particular the responsibility of nurturing the next generation of global citizens.


From the COVID-19 pandemic to the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), the world has faced rapid and highly disruptive changes over the past four years. One of the key places where societies have sought solutions has been universities. Innovation, and the business focus that often underpins it, is increasingly becoming intertwined with education. The CUHK Diamond Jubilee University Presidents’ Forum brought together university presidents and leaders from 18 countries and regions spanning six continents to discuss how higher education can lead the response to the changing landscape. Forum participants were welcomed by Hong Kong’s Secretary for Education, Dr Choi Yuk-lin, who spoke on the development of higher education in Hong Kong and how the government is promoting innovation. The government has invested substantially and strategically in developing Hong Kong into an international hub for post-secondary education and research, building on the existing excellence, global connections and high degree of internationalisation in universities.



Global Healthcare Challenges and China’s Solutions Keynote

Healthcare stands as one of the pivotal domains where universities are spearheading groundbreaking innovations, while simultaneously raising the bar of expectations. Both governments and businesses alike are eager to invest in and foster the development of biotechnology in collaboration with academia. A prominent player in this regard is Ms Nisa Leung, Managing Partner of Qiming Venture Partners, who leads healthcare investments at the firm which has more than 530 portfolio companies in China. She has received recognition from the Forbes Midas List for five consecutive years starting in 2019. Additionally, she was named to the Forbes China Best Women Venture Capitalists List in both 2021 and 2022, and she was included in the Fortune China Most Powerful Women in Business compilation for the years 2022 and 2023. As the keynote speaker at the Presidents’ Forum, Ms Leung reflected on the symbiotic relationship between global higher education and healthcare innovation. Faced with multifaceted challenges including a rapidly aging population, the escalating prevalence of chronic diseases and health inequities, as well as the burgeoning need for digital health solutions, higher education institutions have a pivotal role to play. By nurturing the next generation of healthcare professionals and biomedical researchers, they form the backbone of future healthcare delivery and serve as incubators for groundbreaking research, driving advancements from telemedicine to personalised therapies to AI that venture capital can adeptly amplify. Ms Leung noted that global healthcare has advanced tremendously thanks to technology, but at the same time, there are constraints, particularly the increasingly expensive cost of developing drugs. In the US, the cost per capita has increased 10-fold since 1960. Ms Leung asked the Forum’s audience: “So how do we develop innovative drugs but make them affordable?”

Ms Leung’s company has responded by seeking opportunities in China. About 220 of the companies invested by her firm are in healthcare. One company is now the largest insulin company in China and exports to 35 countries. Big pharmaceutical companies have also been paying attention to the science coming out of China, she said. Activities like these have helped to rapidly raise the profile of the country’s biomedical industry, which now has a product range as broad

Ms Nisa Leung, MH, JP Managing Partner, Qiming Venture Partners

as that seen in the US. For instance, five years ago, only 10 per cent of licensing deals in China involved Chinese innovative drugs shipped to the rest of the world; in 2022 that figure increased to 27 per cent. The cheaper costs in China give it an advantage, as drugs can be 10 times or more cheaper than in the US. Ms Leung shared that while Chinese companies were cautious not to antagonise the US market, they also wanted to provide more affordable care to the rest of the world. To that end, her firm is investing more in AI-based firms, which can expedite drug discovery and develop drugs much faster than conventional means. They are also continuing to work closely with academia, governments and other partners to develop new drugs to improve human wellness. The keynote address inspired insightful discussion from the Forum’s audience. A question was raised on how prices in China could be much more affordable when costs and salaries were not proportionately cheaper. Ms Leung replied that the difference was partly the higher profit margins in the West, and partly the cheaper cost of doing clinical trials in China. For instance, one hospital they work with conducts more heart bypasses than the entire

state of California each year, so fewer people are needed to facilitate clinical trials. There was also concern on whether the drug industry could become a target of security concerns in the current unstable political environment. Ms Leung felt confident that there was commitment from both the US and China to keep them separate and noted that collaborations were on the rise between multinational corporations and Chinese biotech firms. When asked about the challenges of private versus public health systems and her firm’s work on preventive medicines, Ms Leung noted that the US, which has a strong private system, was negotiating down the prices of top pharmaceutical sales products to make them more affordable and her firm was looking at how to work with multinational corporations to reduce clinical trial costs by collaborating with Chinese clinical trial centres. On the public side, China has signalled that innovative drug pricing should be determined by the market to help stimulate research and discovery. On preventive medicines and longevity, her company has invested in diagnostic companies that focus on this.

The audience also queried whether Hong Kong academics were doing enough to leverage and promote their expertise in clinical trials and their links with the Chinese Mainland. According to Ms Leung, Hong Kong has advantages that are attracting more and more innovative drug companies, including an advanced clinical trials centre. There is an urgent need to translate and commercialise findings from the lab and apply them to benefit human health. This urgency has been reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The task is not simple as it requires not only scientific research but expertise in preclinical and clinical trials, human relations, portfolio management, and engagement with external stakeholders including the government. Teamwork across academia and the private and public sectors is critical to success. “We really need people who are experienced in building biotech companies to do it together,” Ms Leung concluded.



Panel 1

Disrupt or be Disrupted : Reimagining Higher

Education in the Age of Disruption

But with COVID, we did it [online teaching] in one month flat over Easter because we had to. And it was surprisingly successful.

Professor Irene Tracey Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford

Universities are some of the most stable institutions in the world, often persisting after wars and other challenges upend society. By educating new experts and leaders, and discovering and guarding truth and knowledge, they help society to move forward. But with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) following close on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, universities themselves are facing fundamental questions about how they follow through on their mission and move with the times. And move they must do, agreed the heads of four universities – Professor Naoshi Sugiyama, President of Nagoya University; Professor Qihuang Gong, President of Peking University; Professor Martin Paul, Rector of Ruhr University Bochum; and Professor Deborah Terry, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Queensland – who came together for a panel discussion on universities in the age of disruption, moderated by Professor Irene Tracey, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford. Professor Tracey set the tone with a reflection on just how profound the recent changes have been

for her university. Oxford has followed the same teaching model for 900 years, lecturing “in a room full of students, always learning and absorbing knowledge, and then delivering a tutorial with one-to- one interaction,” she said. While the content has been adapted and new technologies embraced over the centuries, this has usually been a slow and considered process. The pandemic, on the other hand, required a swift response and a sudden move to delivering content online. “We often joke in Oxford that if we had actually decided [in advance] to put our lectures and tutorials and examinations online, we would probably have taken 10 to 15 years arguing about how to do it,” she added. “But with COVID, we did it in one month flat over Easter because we had to. And it was surprisingly successful.” Elements of that experience have been retained even after in-person classes resumed, such as interviewing prospective students online during the admission process. “It was remarkable for a university like Oxford to reflect on the experience and change something it had done for many, many years.”


Similar stories of rapid adaptation and lessons learned from doing things in new ways have rung across the other universities, too, where the pandemic sparked searching questions about the best way of educating students in modern times. Professor Terry identified the need to better understand the value added by the campus experience. “The value- added campus experience is the tutorials where you debate and exchange ideas, it’s the labs, it’s the studios, it’s the placements. We also need to think about what content should be delivered on demand, online, that students can access at any time,” she remarked. At the same time, universities must consider the other great disruptor – AI – and how this is incorporated into education. “It has now become the most common topic of discussion at all of our universities. Much of that discussion is focused on assessment. That’s really important, but by far, the bigger question is, what does this mean for our role in ensuring that our graduates are

the shapers and leaders of the future?” she wondered. “Really thinking around how AI is used, what the biases in AI are, how today’s graduates are going to go out into the environment and use it, how it should be best integrated into all sectors. We have got a huge amount of work to do in that area.” For Professor Terry, these developments point to the need for universities to remain grounded in their mission to serve the public good and be accessible to the broader community, so they can work collaboratively to address the big challenges facing humanity. Professor Paul echoed some of these thoughts, noting that COVID-19 had shown the feasibility of online education but also its insufficiency given the benefits of the campus experience and face-to-face teaching. A hybrid model that embraces different elements – not just online and campus learning, but things like AI, hackathons, social media and peer-based learning – offers the potential for a paradigm shift in learning.

We have to realise that one of our traditional monopolies – that we own knowledge, our libraries own knowledge – that’s gone. Knowledge is all over the place, sometimes it’s not the right knowledge but you can find it everywhere, whether online or AI-generated. You have to reflect on that.

Professor Martin Paul Rector, Ruhr University Bochum

But his strongest assertions concern AI. “We have to realise that one of our traditional monopolies – that we own knowledge, our libraries own knowledge – that’s gone. Knowledge is all over the place, sometimes it’s not the right knowledge but you can find it everywhere, whether online or AI-generated. You have to reflect on that,” he remarked. Universities need to embrace and use AI in their daily work, whether that be investigating learning outcomes, using chatbots to reach more diverse audiences or processing large amounts of data for research, he added. They also need to start considering rules and regulations for its use, such as the definition of authorship, copyright issues, and educational integrity such as plagiarism. “AI is a tool for learning,” Professor Paul said. “We have to embrace this new technology, we have to use it to modernise us, and we need to move ahead of the game and be proactive and not reactive if we want to implement changes.” Universities sometimes had to take a great leap to embrace technology in education during the pandemic,

but their perseverance paid off. Professor Gong shared that at the start of the pandemic, some professors at Peking University were still not comfortable using online systems. But student assistants were recruited to help them and within one week, classes were online. After three years, the vast majority of professors are now willing to do online teaching, he said. That is only the start. “We know that new technology is bringing opportunities and challenges which we have never seen before. On the one hand, it is transforming how we teach and learn, promoting the integration of interdisciplinary research, and widening the channels for international exchange and collaborations. On the other hand, there are challenges. For example, how do we bridge the digital divide and open up more resources and offer fair and higher quality education for students?” he questioned. Peking University has responded in several ways. First, it has provided frameworks for promoting interdisciplinary work, with 2022 designated the Year of Digital Humanities and 2023 the Year of Global Engagement. Hybrid learning has become the new

The value-added campus experience is the tutorials where you debate and exchange ideas, it’s the labs, it’s the studios, it’s the placements. We also need to think about what content should be delivered on demand, online, that students can access at any time.

Professor Deborah Terry President and Vice-Chancellor, The University of Queensland



topics, because they offer a chance to slow down the recording and understand the material better. “We still encourage students to turn up physically, partly because it gets them out of bed. It’s more for their health and well-being. The physicality of coming in is a good thing. They still have the content that they can go through later,” she remarked. Apart from the individual student experience, though, Professor Terry noted that the literature was unclear whether face-to-face or online learning was best, although at the University of Queensland students were keen to come back to campus. In fact, hybrid may be the preferred option, especially if attention is paid to how best to deliver on the value-added campus experience. At Ruhr University Bochum, Professor Paul said that their preliminary studies also suggested the hybrid model was best and they had invested in equipping seminar rooms to accommodate this. But he saw two major challenges, not only for universities but wider

society. Loneliness and isolation had become a big problem, exacerbated under COVID-19 restrictions. Moreover, the polarisation of views was intensifying both on campus and in the community. “We need to use our campus experience to create an atmosphere where you can have a difference of opinions. We need to invest in creating this atmosphere of responsibility, social interaction and citizenship,” he stressed. Another focal point of discussion was the traditional role of universities as discoverers and disseminators of truth and knowledge, particularly as AI becomes pervasive in both positive and challenging ways and questions arise about how to use and regulate it within universities and the wider society. “Should the university system be more on the front foot in setting regulations around knowledge and truth and the veracity of it?” Professor Tracey asked the panellists. Professor Terry responded that students learn through assessment and experiences. Universities should embrace AI but adopt multiple forms of assessment.

normal and is implemented through a network connecting students across the University’s multiple campuses. Programmes have also been introduced to help teachers make use of AI and new technologies in their courses. Peking University is also building on global exchange platforms by partnering with 30 universities around the world to launch the Digital International Development Education Alliance – or DI IDEA. “Now that we know digital intelligence has become the new engine driving the development of global higher education, we should face this,” Professor Gong remarked. At Nagoya University, there had long been discussions about how to use IT in education but, like most other universities, it was the pandemic that forced their hand. Professor Sugiyama said that they switched quickly and successfully to online teaching. But while that went well technically, a survey after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted told a different story. Respondents liked that online classes offered more free time and easier access to classes, but face-to-face classes had the highest satisfaction rate, followed by on-demand, and then online live lectures. The findings convinced the university to go back to face-to-face classes, while also continuing to adopt the better aspects of technology in the classroom. For instance, medical students work in a virtual operating room that lets them perform virtual operations. A recent experiment also allowed students from Nagoya

University and from another university 50 kilometres away to work through the same experiment at the same time. Nagoya University has also been boosting entrepreneurial education by establishing a new centre on that topic and requiring all first-year undergraduates to take entrepreneurship classes. In terms of internationalisation, it has a PhD exchange programme with the National University of Singapore and is preparing to meet a new target of the Japanese government to admit 500,000 foreign students to the country and send 400,000 Japanese students abroad every year by 2033. The panellists also engaged in discussion among themselves on what the nature of the university experience should be in the age of AI, how to sustain intercultural engagement, and what might be lost as well as gained from more online classes and how this might be mitigated. Student mental health was spotlighted by several of the panellists. Professor Sugiyama mentioned that students who had spent their first three years of study online due to COVID-19 restrictions were still struggling with depression and in extreme cases, some even committed suicide. “It is human nature that we need face-to-face communication,” he said. Professor Tracey echoed that view. Students had craved the return to in-person classes, but they also like online lectures, especially for more conceptual

New technology is bringing opportunities and challenges which we have never seen before. How do we bridge the digital divide and open up more resources and offer fair and higher quality education for students?

Professor Qihuang Gong President, Peking University



This applies both to students and professors, because older generations may have more difficulty in securing grants if AI is not part of their research proposals. “In competitive situations, AI will benefit the one who understands how to use it. And this will lead to some widening between developed and undeveloped countries,” he commented. Professor Davy Cheng, Founding Dean of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, suggested that the disruptive AI technology intersected during COVID-19 has widened the medical education gap in AI knowledge and application in the healthcare system. His School has embraced and acted on this challenge by integrating AI across its medical curriculum. Professor Cheng advocated that universities should also train their faculty to adopt and integrate new AI technologies in teaching and assessment, as well as train a new generation of physicians to be AI- compatible. “My concern is that many of our physician teachers and professors are not ready to master AI in teaching as they don’t have this skillset,” he said. “So how do we proactively prepare our medical students and faculty to reduce this gap in AI medical education and healthcare practice in modern medicine?” Professor Lisa Roberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, also questioned how

technology and data analytics could be used proactively to enhance engagement and outcomes among students. Professor Terry responded to the comments noting that the digital divides described by Professor Song and Professor Block were two sides of the same problem, which is the existence of education divisions and inequities in society. “The educational division and inequity in our societies are getting more embedded and it’s something that our universities have to address because parts of our community are going to be left behind if we don’t do that,” she remarked. Universities should also adopt multiple forms of assessment and teach students and staff how to use AI ethically and appropriately. She also supported using the student data already available to examine whether universities are meeting their responsibilities to their students. Professor Paul noted that even with free tuition in his country, there is a need to integrate new graduates into society, which AI and other technologies could help with as a first step. He also argued that when the reward system for academics is largely based on research performance, this could be a hurdle to overcome when asking people to adopt new educational tools. Despite all of these concerns, there was clear support among all participants for embracing the digital disruption. Professor Sugiyama cited the case at Nagoya University, where students are prohibited from using AI in entrance exams. “Some members of our university say, why not allow them to use AI to just check things or get information? What is wrong with that? They are a new generation to me. In any case, it is inevitable that AI will be used,” he said. The session revealed how universities have been working through the challenges and opportunities posed by the advent of new technologies. COVID-19 showed that, when circumstances dictate, universities can quickly adapt to new ways of teaching and learning. AI is again disrupting things, but this time there is a deeper awareness of the digital divide, both across and within jurisdictions. Forging ahead, universities are encouraged to remember their missions of knowledge creation and serving the public good, and to address the challenge of unequal distribution of technological resources and unequal access to the benefits of an in- person education.

Some members of our university say, why not allow them to use AI to just check things or get information? What is wrong with that? They are a new generation to me. In any case, it is inevitable that AI will be used.

Professor Naoshi Sugiyama President, Nagoya University

They should also work with students so they understand the biases, limitations and applications of new tools, and provide safe spaces for these difficult discussions. Professor Paul addressed universities’ role in knowledge and truth directly, arguing that sometimes universities act as exclusive owners and should perhaps be more open in their thinking. Digitising collections is one way of doing that – he pointed to an example where Nigerian artefacts being held in Germany were digitised so students could study them that way, then returned to their home country. Professor Gong and Professor Sugiyama both cautioned against over-reacting to AI and digital technologies. Professor Gong pointed out that in the 1980s, parents worried the computer would undermine children’s mathematical skills but that proved not to be the case. Professor Sugiyama noted that AI tools could allow Japanese students to focus on the content of their work. Questions from the floor further revealed some of the issues at stake. Professor Yonghua Song, Rector of the University of Macau, was especially concerned with the

digital divide, which he sees as problematic along three aspects, including infrastructure, development of digital literacy, and regulation and policy, which can impede access to digital tools. For instance, some students from his university who were based on the Chinese Mainland could not access certain software programmes during the pandemic. “We talk about digital disruption and AI and the impact of higher education, but I see the digital divide as a challenge for the whole world,” he said. Professor Gene D Block, Chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, highlighted a different kind of digital divide in his country. As the cost of bandwidth continues to decrease, the opportunity for digital learning becomes more attainable. However, the cost of in-person education remains high. “Do we run a risk, especially in developed countries where the have-nots take their education remotely, and the haves get the advantages of residential education?” he asked. Professor Banchong Mahaisavariya, President of Mahidol University, suggested ChatGPT could be acceptable if used for individual purposes, but create unfair advantages when used in competitive circumstances.



Panel 2

For much of modern times, universities have followed the motto of “publish or perish”. If academics want promotion and tenure, they need to get their research published, ideally in high-impact journals. If universities want recognition through ranking tables, they need to show that their professoriate has a strong body of publications. While that measure remains an important criterion of assessment, societies are also increasingly turning to universities for innovations and solutions. There is a growing expectation that academics will engage in more translational research and entrepreneurship to take their discoveries to market. Against that background, Professor Lisa Roberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, moderated a panel discussion that included participants from Uganda, Hong Kong, the US and Türkiye, to learn how they are responding to the new demands and where they think things are heading. Professor Roberts first reflected on how the UK had experienced a change in culture with the Research Excellence Framework, which places impact at the centre of how research performance is assessed.

“There is really a changing backdrop now where universities are being required to work more with industry, to be drivers of innovation and economic growth within our regions and across the world,” she said. “Engaging with business and innovation activities improves the quality of our research and opens up many new opportunities for our students and academic colleagues. It is also a new way to diversify income generation for universities and individuals working within them.” To capitalise on those benefits, Exeter has appointed a Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Business Engagement and Innovation to support innovation and entrepreneurship. It has also started changing promotional policies within academic roles to ensure these activities are rewarded. Professor Roberts thus asked the panellists: what are you doing to shape and promote the research and innovation agenda at your institutions? The answers were revealing of the commitment within academia across different cultures and continents to generate innovation and entrepreneurship.

Balancing Papers and Products: Shaping the Innovation and Research Agenda

Engaging with business and innovation activities improves the quality of our research and opens up many new opportunities for our students and academic colleagues. It is also a new way to diversify income generation for universities and individuals working within them.

Professor Lisa Roberts President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Exeter


Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor of Makerere University in Uganda, comes from a region with highly challenging circumstances. Uganda, and Africa in general, is experiencing some of the worst effects of climate change. It has very high population growth, high unemployment especially among youth, new diseases emerging, and poverty. Politicians have questioned him directly on why the PhD graduates from his university cannot solve these problems or develop innovations from their research. The answer, of course, lies with funding, which used to come primarily from the US and European Union. But with COVID-19, and the realisation that Africa was not a priority for vaccine rollouts, the Ugandan government started for the first time to directly provide research funding to its universities. The outcomes have extended well beyond the pandemic. For instance, new research has led to the development of new adaptations for crops and livestock in the face of climate change. But there has not been much industry to carry such ideas forward and employ young people. Professor Nawangwe’s response is to establish an innovation hub at his university. “One of the biggest problems we face is changing the mindset of our people, who don’t believe that they can do things other people can do. So we started collaborating

among ourselves in Africa to try and solve this problem,” he remarked. It is not only their own populations who need to think differently – the World Bank has also come to have a change of heart from the 1980s when it advised African governments not to invest in universities. “We must change also the mindset of the international community. We are investing in research and beginning to see some results,” he added. “We believe that things will change.” In contrast, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has embraced entrepreneurialism since its founding 32 years ago, particularly in nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset among its students. More than 1,700 start-ups, nine unicorns and 12 IPOs have been launched from the university. At the same time, said its President Professor Nancy Y Ip, fundamental research should not be eclipsed. “How can universities advance scientific knowledge, but also produce science that can really help to address global challenges? I think this is a very important question,” she remarked. “There needs to be a delicate balance between academic research and developing practical solutions. This is not an easy task, but I believe both are pivotal.” HKUST includes research impact in its evaluation criteria, such as whether the research has resulted in a technology,

One of the biggest problems we face is changing the mindset of our people, who don’t believe that they can do things other people can do. …We must change also the mindset of the international community. We are investing in research and beginning to see some results.

Professor Barnabas Nawangwe Vice Chancellor, Makerere University

methodology, product, or intangible contribution to culture or government policy. But at the same time, blue sky research is supported by the provision of funding and infrastructure, such as central research facilities. To bring research and impact together, HKUST has made solid connections with industry by establishing joint labs that benefit researchers and students. It is also establishing an innovation technology park that will offer incubation, facilities and platforms for businesses and academia to work together, and it continues to offer programmes that nurture entrepreneurship through engagement with industry. “We as higher education leaders really need to shape our universities as hubs to not only support academic research, but also drive innovation and help our colleagues actualise their research findings,” she stressed. “I would very much like to empower our faculty and students to be not only knowledge producers, but also changemakers. And through their work, to make a positive impact on society.” The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), has similarly focused on creating infrastructure and

programmes to support the pursuit of innovation by staff and students. Led by Chancellor Pradeep K Khosla, it is building a large research park on campus where selected small, medium and large companies can have a base for working with researchers and students. “The demand is going to be way more than the space we have. We want to build an ecosystem,” he said. New measures have also been implemented to promote and support innovation. UC San Diego has restructured its equity in start-ups to five per cent and streamlined the negotiating process. Students of all disciplines are being encouraged to engage in innovation, beyond the “cocoon” of business and engineering disciplines, at a state-of-the-art building with a 3D manufacturing facility, design facility and other features, where at any given time 60 teams are incubated with support and start- up funds. A separate programme targets underserved communities to equip them with the skills to be self- starters. “My mandate to them is to understand how to identify opportunities, to look at the risks in those opportunities, to plan on how to execute those opportunities and



Dr Hazri bin Haji Kifle, Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Brunei Darussalam, asked the panel to elaborate on how they promote interdisciplinary research within their institutions as interdisciplinarity is often framed as a catalyst to new discoveries and inventions. At Makerere University, Professor Nawangwe shared that interdisciplinary research is now mandatory. If scholars want access to the university’s funds from government, their projects need to involve at least three people from another faculty. At HKUST, Professor Ip said interdisciplinary research is the norm and they had recently created an Academy of Interdisciplinary Studies to work with faculties from different schools in identifying emerging areas and global challenges that they can collaborate on, such as sustainability. The university also provides funding support for interdisciplinary research, such as fintech and green finance. “We also recently established a campus in Guangzhou on the Chinese Mainland that does not have single disciplines, it is all interdisciplinary. This is another way that

we can create an environment and platform for colleagues to work together to address global challenges,” she added. One of her predecessors at HKUST, Professor Tony Chan, who is now President of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, noted that when his university was established 14 years ago, it was decided there would be no departments in order to break down barriers and foster interdisciplinarity. Dr Khosla shared that UC San Diego had adopted similar strategies to HKUST and interdisciplinarity is a norm, with faculty being hired in ways that will enable UC San Diego to continue to define new areas of research. The university ploughed new ground years ago in establishing departments on cognitive science and nanotechnology. To maintain that edge, he has allotted 20 faculty positions each year in which each position can be shared between two faculties. The central university pays half the salary and the departments pay a quarter each – a bargain for the departments. “These positions always get oversubscribed. It’s amazing that when you do that, new areas of research just emerge in ways you had not imagined,” he said.

We as higher education leaders really need to shape our universities as hubs to not only support academic research, but also drive innovation and help our colleagues actualise their research findings.

Professor Nancy Y Ip President, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

mitigate the risk, and finally to actually execute their plans. This is the exact definition of an innovator and entrepreneur,” he remarked. While entrepreneurialism was to be encouraged, Dr Khosla also cautioned that it was not a fruitful path for universities to seek to profit from academic research. The US invests US$40 billion in research but the return on investment in terms of royalty income is only about one per cent, he said. “If you think you are going to make money doing IP transfer, you are hallucinating,” he added. Professor Metin Sitti, President of Koç University, also noted the difficulty of going from paper to product. “Innovation and creating deep-tech start-ups out of advanced research is highly challenging,” he commented. Culture is a factor – the fear of failure and loss of face were concerns in places like Türkiye and Germany, where he worked previously, and Asia. But ultimately, innovations need to start with knowledge and discoveries, he said. Universities and funding bodies should not forget the importance of fundamental research.

“For many reasons, not least because they are supported by taxpayers’ money, funding agencies are pushing us to do translational research that makes a great impact in society. But we are missing a very important point. Fundamental research enables long-term, high-risk topics that can have more drastic impact in science and society. We should not give up on fundamental research, whose major outcome measure is still publications,” he added. Nonetheless, Koç University has also embraced innovation and translation of research. It works closely with industry, which provides innovation support, and has seen students embrace entrepreneurship. About 10 per cent of the graduates create their own start-ups and jobs on the back of interdisciplinary programmes that allow them to do double majors in business and their chosen discipline. The university also offers fellowships and support to PhD students that accommodate the creation of start-ups. The panel discussion prompted questions from the audience of university presidents on how to develop innovation more broadly and its impact on the way that scholarship is defined.

My mandate to them is to understand how to identify opportunities, to look at the risks in those opportunities, to plan on how to execute those opportunities and mitigate the risk, and finally to actually execute their plans. This is the exact definition of an innovator and entrepreneur.

Dr Pradeep K Khosla Chancellor, University of California, San Diego



Professor Sitti remarked they also created incentives for interdisciplinarity, but wanted to ensure people were not penalised, especially if they were on tenure-track and expected to make contributions in their own field while collaborating in another. “These are things that you should not use against them,” he said. He is also working to establish think tanks at Koç University to identify research topics with potential for globally important breakthroughs. Getting the right people in place will be important. “The big challenges for interdisciplinary researchers are that they need to have motivation and incentive, and they need enough knowledge together so they can discuss topics of mutual interest.” How to recognise and reward innovators on staff was another concern raised by Professor Eng Chye Tan, President of the National University of Singapore, who cited the example of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Both men were PhD students at Stanford University when they developed the basis of Google and published a research paper about it. “Imagine that they were assistant professors, you’re likely to give

them leave to start a company. But would you promote and tenure them?” he asked. Dr Khosla emphasised that they would certainly do so at UC San Diego and they are in the process of changing policy to reflect this. Professor Ip said it is important to incorporate such work into evaluation criteria, but this requires a change of culture and will take time. “We should not stick to the traditional way of counting research papers. This change will happen, but we need more examples to convince colleagues of it,” she said. Professor Nawangwe cautioned that such innovation may not be a clear-cut issue and academic publication must still matter. Nonetheless, publishing itself also gives rise to concerns. Professor Banchong Mahaisavariya, President of Mahidol University, questioned why the focus is always on positive results when there are lessons to be learned from negative results, too. “As a wise man said, success is a lousy teacher, failure teaches you more,” he remarked. Professor Sitti agreed but noted there is no mechanism for feeding back negative results. Professor

Ip noted that reflection on challenges is very useful in entrepreneurship and it is the norm for entrepreneurs to share their experiences. “For academic research, I do think that we have to incorporate that in our evaluation criteria, but it really takes time,” she said. Another question related to papers, raised by Professor Rocky S Tuan, Vice-Chancellor and President of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, was the rise in fake papers and how to counter that. Dr Khosla thought the problem was small in the scheme of things and the effort and resources expended to counter it might not be worth it for the results achieved. Professor Nawangwe shared that people at his university were so keen to publish in order to get promoted that they fell victim to predatory journals. The university took a strict line on this. “If they bring those papers for promotion, they’re rejected, even if they might be good papers. If they publish in predatory journals, they lose out.” A final, pointed question was asked by Professor Dawn Freshwater, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Auckland, who is concerned about the nature and definition of scholarship, particularly in the context of balancing papers and products. “Scholarship is often defined by its dissemination. What we are talking about here is a significant change to dissemination and how we’re assessing our academics in terms of that dissemination. How is scholarship going to continue to be defined? How are we going to talk about that as the compelling narrative about public good and create public trust? We need to ensure we advance a strong narrative around the public good of the university. It is through this that we will maintain momentum,” she conveyed. Dr Khosla welcomed the observation and added that in the context of moving technology or science from the university to the marketplace, the market determines if something is useful. “On the scholarship side, there is also a marketplace for that: it is your peer group, your review team, who accurately determine whether whatever you’ve written is worth publishing or not. A body of those papers constitutes your record in scholarship, and then everybody can evaluate if that is adequate or not. So if a system like a university is true to its goals and mission, the filtering process is already happening. The reason we’re successful is we have a diversity of mechanisms for quality control, it is not a single definition of quality,” he said. The panel’s discussions highlighted the tensions and complementarities between academic research and commercialisation. The creation of new, truly innovative

products relies on the efforts of academic research, which is assessed through a serviceable system of peer review. But universities now are increasingly being asked to translate those findings and contribute more and more to innovation that benefits the wider community. The panellists recounted how they are taking on board that demand through measures such as entrepreneurial education, partnership with industry, and the promotion of interdisciplinarity to solidify their role as creators and leaders in innovation. Nonetheless, challenges remain in breaking down disciplinary boundaries and recognising innovation in staff promotions and rewards. Universities should also be cautioned not to put too much faith in generating significant income from innovations.

Fundamental research enables long- term, high-risk topics that can have more drastic impact in science and society. We should not give up on fundamental research, whose major outcome measure is still publications.

Professor Metin Sitti President, Koç University



Page 1 Page 2-3 Page 4-5 Page 6-7 Page 8-9 Page 10-11 Page 12-13 Page 14-15 Page 16-17 Page 18-19 Page 20-21 Page 22-23 Page 24-25 Page 26-27 Page 28-29 Page 30-31 Page 32-33 Page 34-35 Page 36-37 Page 38-39 Page 40-41 Page 42-43 Page 44-45 Page 46-47 Page 48-49 Page 50-51 Page 52

Made with FlippingBook Online newsletter maker