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Dedication Ceremony: Unveiling a World-class Data Science Hub in HKU

On 5 January 2022, HKU held a dedication ceremony at the Rayson Huang Theatre to recognise the generous HK$150 million donation from The Musketeers Education and Culture Charitable Foundation (“the Foundation”) to establish the Musketeers Foundation Institute of Data Science (“HKU-IDS”). This new research institute at HKU is committed to becoming an engine for our future through science data and technology.

The event, held at the start of the year prior to the city’s fifth COVID-19 wave, received enthusiastic support from the donors, University senior management members, partners from government and industry, faculty members and students, alumni and friends.  The donors – Co-Founders of the Foundation, Mr Stanley Chu, Dr Lawrence Fung and Mr Leong Ka Chai – were joined on this important occasion by their families and friends to celebrate the Institute’s launch.

Professor Zhang Xiang, HKU’s President and Vice-Chancellor, gave encouraging welcoming remarks at the ceremony, expressing deep gratitude to the donors for their continuous support and shared visions towards research and creativity. Professor Max Shen, Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) who is the Institute’s Director, described how the Institute was formed under the counsel of an international advisory board and builds on the strong support from the University’s research talents in data science via the HKU-100 Global Recruitment Campaign. The Institute’s ambition, he explained, is to become a world-class data science hub at HKU to support cross-disciplinary collaborations in InnoTech development. 

Many distinguished guests attended the event, including Professor Jiang Jian Xiang, Director-General, Department of Educational, Scientific and Technological Affairs of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, Mr Alfred Sit, Secretary for Innovation and Technology, and Ms Priscilla Wong, HKU’s new Council Chairman, all of whom were invited as Guests of Honour to officiate at the ceremony.

Mr Stephen Chu, one of the Co-Founders of The Musketeers Education and Culture Charitable Foundation, remarked in his speech at the Institute’s dedication ceremony,

“When the missions and visions of the HKU Institute of Data Science were shared with us [in 2021], we supported the idea wholeheartedly. With all the experts and collaborations across disciplines, we believe the Institute can solve many world problems. We are proud to be part of it.”

The goal of the Institute is to become a one-of-a-kind data science research centre devoted to attracting and nurturing the best talents from across the globe. To highlight the importance of the young generation for creating a more innovative and sustainable future, the Guests of Honour, each with a torch in hand, pointed to the screen at the request of the AI-generated voice saying, “Please raise your torch and point to the future…….” A five second countdown then led to a stunning climax of the event, during which beams of light sparked like fireworks in the venue, and virtual images of the Tech Landmark (home to the IDS) were projected on the screen.

The ceremony also served as a platform for the Institute to introduce the public to its three strategic research directions for the years to come: (1) Fundamental Data Science; (2) Explainable AI and Human-Machine Interplays; and (3) Smart Society. HKU’s team of outstanding data scientists and Institute members continues to welcome capable young talents to join to leverage the positive impact of cutting-edge research, knowledge and new ideas, amidst the current unprecedented challenges.

Looking ahead, the iconic Tech Landmark – which will be the ­headquarters of the HKU InnoTech initiative and home to the HKU-IDS – is planned to be completed by 2024.