After Korea we travelled on to Hong Kong where Pirkko Tamsen and Kay Svensson were already waiting for us. In the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong we had four educational and rewarding days with visits to universities, Science Parks, different organizations, alumni events and many meetings with creative exchange. We have had the opportunity to learn more about the development in a dynamic and interesting part of Asia. Hong Kong with its seven million inhabitants has three universities ranked among the top 50 in the world. Uppsala University has student exchanges and research cooperation with all three and with another two universities in Hong Kong. This is an impressively international environment with high ambitions, including interest in developing the cooperation with Uppsala in several areas including joint programmes. There is also great interest in innovation, and we sparked great curiosity when we talked about how the Swedish model works and how successful it is. Here too we saw opportunities for continued connections which can contribute to mutual development.
Our first day (Wednesday) started with a run through of the programme. Then we set off to the Department of Justice to learn about Hong Kong’s legal system – Basic Law. The next stop that day was the University of Hong Kong. We were well received and we have active student exchange since the nineties. We noticed a certain concern for the future roll of Hong Kong.
The next day began with a breakfast meeting together with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. We had many questions we wanted to discuss so time passed (too) quickly. On to the Patent Office where we learned about intellectual property rights in Hong Kong. At our next stop we were introduced to Hong Kong’s innovation policy by Mr Tsang. Lunch was spent learning about foreign policy together with Mr Lo, deputy secretary for education, and Mr Lau, principal assistant secretary. Concerns over demography and decreasing student numbers possibly causing lowered quality popped up several times in our conversation. In the evening we met General Consul Jörgen Halldin and Amanda Weinstock. It was good to get an account from Swedes on location who know Hong Kong.
Friday morning was spent at Hong Kong Science Park, first at the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) and then at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP). A great openness and will to cooperate characterized our meetings. Here there was great curiosity about Sweden and perhaps interesting opportunities for some of Uppsala’s many skilled researchers and innovators who would like to enter the Asian market. This is also where Karolinska Institutet will base their activities on regenerative medicine, funded by a large donation of SEK 350 million. Our hosts also invited Uppsala researchers to take part in collaborations. Another area that is being pushed is the development of robots for many different areas of application.
In the afternoon we learned about fighting corruption at a visit to the ICAC – the Independent Commission Against Corruption. They had a great display of all the most spectacular corruption cases they had managed to untangle. Everything from bribes to dodgy construction work and smuggling, Mrs Au Yeung proudly showed us around and told us about all those who had been caught. The day ended with a visit to the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and a meeting with Vice-Chancellor Sung. Here we also have student exchange since the nineties, but the ambition is to increase the numbers travelling in both directions as well as organizing teacher exchanges.
All meetings contained great presentations and gave us many leads to follow up on, but the crescendo was of our own doing. On the Friday evening, Anna Reibring together with the Alumni Office in Uppsala had prepared a first meeting for alumni and friends of Uppsala University in Hong Kong. Lars Nittve talked about his exciting work of creating M+, a brand new museum in Hong Kong. The event was rounded off with a mini Walpurgis celebration, with cardboard student caps and student songs. Thomas Fredengren was also helping out on location. Next week there will be alumni events across the globe in connection with Walpurgis Eve. It is great to see our alumni activities really picking up some steam! It was great to meet our alumni as well as exchange students in Hong Kong and hearing about their experiences.
On the Saturday we had the privilege of attending the fourth Nobel Laureates Symposium on Global Sustainability. Some great lectures and there is hope for the future, but it requires both individuals and politicians to step up to the challenge going forward. The rest of the day was spent packing and preparing for the journey home (Pirkko and Kay). Eva will continue her travels and the next stop will be Arusha in Tanzania. More about that in an upcoming blog post.