HKUST President Leads Delegation to UAE Securing Partnerships on Research, Tech Transfer and Talent Development

group photo

A group photo of the HKUST delegates, including President Prof. Nancy Ip (back row, sixth left), Vice-President for Institutional Advancement Prof. Wang Yang (front left), with the senior management of the University of Sharjah, including Chancellor Prof. Hamid M.K. Al Naimiy (back row, sixth right), and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Prof. Youssef Al Haik (front right), after the two parties sign partnership agreement. 

the Research Institute for Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Sharjah

The delegation of HKUST visits the Research Institute for Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Sharjah.

the Molecular Genetics Lab

Prof. Rifat Hamoudi (left) from the University of Sharjah introduces his latest research outcomes to Prof. Nancy Ip (middle) and Prof. Wang Yang at the Molecular Genetics Lab.

The Dubai Future Foundation

The Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) representatives explore collaboration opportunities with the HKUST delegation on areas including innovation, knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship. 

the collaboration agreement

HKUST Vice-President for Institutional Advancement Prof. Wang Yang (front left) and DFF Deputy CEO Mr. Abdulaziz Al Jaziri (front right) sign the collaboration agreement under the witness of HKUST President Prof. Nancy Ip (back left) and DFF CEO HE. Khalfan Belhoul (back right).

Dubai Future Labs

The HKUST delegation visits Dubai Future Labs to learn of UAE’s latest development in AI and robotics. 

the Museum of the Future

The delegation also visits the Museum of the Future for its immersive display on the possible futures.

group photo

A group photo of the HKUST delegation with the Khalifa University (KU) President Prof. Sir John O’Reilly (fifth right) and its other senior management. 

KU’s Advanced Research and Innovation Center

The HKUST delegation visits KU’s Advanced Research and Innovation Center, which researches on aerospace engineering, advanced manufacturing, health and energy technologies.

Body Museum

Prof. Nancy Ip (middle) discusses with KU President Prof. Sir John O’Reilly (left) and a researcher from KU at the university’s Body Museum, which promotes healthy lifestyle and at the same time, showcases the technology of preserving human bodies through plastination.

Mr. Zhang Yiming

The HKUST delegation meets with Mr. Zhang Yiming (third right), the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the UAE.

alumni gathering

The delegation hosts an alumni gathering to foster connections and strengthen ties.

A high-level delegation from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) concluded a successful trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai last week. Led by HKUST President Prof. Nancy IP, the delegation established valuable ties and partnerships with prominent institutions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to foster education, research, and innovation.  

The visit took place during the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative when both the Hong Kong government and HKUST had pledged to enhance cooperation in areas such as innovation and technology, and investment and infrastructure development with key B&R members such as the UAE. This is the first visit from Hong Kong’s higher education sector following Hong Kong Chief Executive John LEE’s delegation to the region last year.

During the four-day trip between April 15 and 18, the HKUST delegation engaged with prominent institutions and organizations including the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), the University of Sharjah, Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KU), the United Arab Emirates University, and Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence. Discussions focused on research collaboration, technology transfer, and talent development in cutting-edge fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, medical technology, clean energy, and start-up incubation. The delegation also had the privilege of meeting Mr. ZHANG Yiming, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the UAE. Additionally, an alumni gathering was held to strengthen ties with HKUST alumni in the region. 

Other HKUST delegates included Prof. WANG Yang, Vice-President for Institutional Advancement, Ms. Daisy CHAN, Associate Vice-President (Global Engagement and Communications), Prof. WANG Yu-Hsing, Associate Dean (Undergraduate Studies) of School of Engineering, and Prof. ZHOU Xiaofang, Head of Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Prof Nancy Ip described the trip as fruitful and rewarding. “During the visit, I had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the remarkable progress and investment the UAE has made in innovation and knowledge transfer, which aligns closely with Hong Kong’s own advancements. I am excited about the many ways HKUST, with our unique edge in innovation, AI and entrepreneurship, can work with partners in the UAE to drive technology advancements in the region while fostering academic cooperation,” she said.

HKUST signed two agreements during the trip. The one with DFF – a Dubai government entity with a mission to drive the city 10 years ahead by delivering high-quality futuristic impact – entails a wide range of collaborative activities including joint research and knowledge transfer projects, incubation and exchange programs for startups, students and researchers, as well as sharing of resources and facilities. 

The second agreement, signed with the University of Sharjah, focuses on academic collaboration, which includes dual degree programs, joint graduate supervision, joint research programs, sharing of academic materials and scientific information, as well as other exchange initiatives. 

“These agreements underscore our commitment to advancing academic and research excellence and promoting cross-cultural exchange with the UAE. Through joint initiatives in research, student exchange programs, and talent development, we are poised to unlock new avenues for knowledge sharing and innovation to drive positive change locally and globally,” Prof Ip said.

The delegation also visited Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KU), a research, innovation and enterprise-oriented institution similar to HKUST with special focuses on science, engineering and medicine.  KU President Prof. Sir John O’Reilly, a distinguished scholar with a career spanning the academic, industry and government sectors in the UK, Singapore and UAE, showcased KU’s innovations in biotechnology, robotics and aerospace engineering. Given the shared commitment to translating research outputs into societal impacts, HKUST will explore collaboration opportunities with KU in areas such as biomedicine, AI, robotics, and sustainability.

During the visit, HKUST delegate Prof. Wang Yang, representing HKUST as the Executive President of the Asian Universities Alliance (AUA), also attended the AUA President Forum hosted by the UAE University. Prof. Yang said HKUST is eager to support and contribute to AUA’s recent initiative of forming a network for innovation and entrepreneurship. The forum brought together leaders from 15 renowned Asian higher education institutions. 

In recent years, HKUST has stepped up engagement with its Middle East stakeholders. Last year, the University’s senior management received prominent officials, including UAE's Economy Minister His Excellency (H.E.) Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, and UAE Ambassador to China H.E. Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi at the HKUST campus. Meanwhile, HKUST recruitment officers visited the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge and various high schools in Abu Dhabi last month to strengthen student recruitment efforts in the UAE. Several HKUST startups incubated by the Hong Kong Center for Construction Robotics (HKCRC), an InnoHK Center of HKUST, also participated in the LEAP 2024 technology conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which showcases advanced robotic technology and its potential in construction development in the Middle East. 

About The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology  
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) ( is a world-class research intensive university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science. HKUST offers an international campus, and a holistic and interdisciplinary pedagogy to nurture well-rounded graduates with global vision, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking. Over 80% of our research work were rated “Internationally excellent” or “world leading” in the Research Assessment Exercise 2020 of Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee. We were ranked 2nd in Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings 2023, and our graduates were ranked 29th worldwide and among the best from universities from Asia in Global Employability University Ranking 2023. As of September 2023, HKUST members have founded 1,747 active start-ups, including 9 Unicorns and 13 exits (IPO or M&A), generating economic impact worth over HK$ 400 billion. In the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024, 12 subjects have been ranked in the top 50 globally, with "Data Science and Artificial Intelligence" securing the 10th position, the highest ranking among the local universities in the field. 

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