Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute
|Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute|
|Location||Hong Kong SAR|
|Chairman||Mr Wong Ming-yam|
|Chief Executive Officer||Dr Frank Tong|
|Field||Information and Communications Technologies|
The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) was founded by the Government of Hong Kong SAR in 2000 to enhance Hong Kong’s competitiveness in technology-based industries through applied research.
Its R&D efforts traverse five main technological areas, namely:
- Communications Technologies (CT)
- IC Design (ICD)
- Sensing & Integration (SI)
- Software & Systems (SNS).
In April 2006, ASTRI was designated the Hong Kong Research and Development Centre for Information and Communications Technologies by the Innovative and Technology Commission with special goals to perform leading-edge R&D for technology transfer to industry, develop much needed technical human resources and act as a focal point bringing together industry and university R&D assets.
ASTRI established a wholly owned subsidiary, the ASTRI Science and Technology Research (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd, in Shenzhen in 2008 to extend its service in the Chinese mainland.
- The HKSAR Government established ASTRI in January 2000
- ASTRI started operation in 2001
- The Hong Kong Jockey Club Institute of Chinese Medicine was established as a subsidiary in May 2001
- Filed the first U.S. patent application in October 2002
- Recorded the first revenue dollar in June 2003
- Completed the first spin-off of photonic technologies to SAE Magnetics (HK) Ltd in April 2004
- Granted the first U.S. patent in March 2005
- Spin-off of wireless technologies to Marvell Technology Group Ltd in Dec 2005
- Spin-off of WiFi technologies to Altai Technologies Ltd in April 2006
- Designated the Hong Kong Research and Development Centre for Information and Communications Technologies by the Innovation and Technology Commission in April 2006
- Annual industry contribution started to exceed HK$10 million in 2007/08
- A wholly owned subsidiary, the ASTRI Science and Technology Research (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., was established in Shenzhen in 2008
- Number of granted patents reached 50 in December 2009.
From 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2014, ASTRI filed more than 260 patents for new inventions (101 in 2011/12, 93 in 2012/13 and 72 in 2013/14). As at 31 March 2014, a total of 461 patents have been granted to ASTRI.
The following table compares ASTRI's performance in technology transfers in the last three financial years.
|No. of technology transfers to industry in the form of:||2011/12||2012/13||2013/14|
|1) ITF-funded collaborative projects agreements signed||4||1||3|
|2) contract research project agreements signed||51||75||60|
|3) licensing agreements signed||28||37||24|
|4) Patent assignments||N.A.||N.A.||1|
|Total no. of technology transfers to industry||83||113||88|
R&D Groups and Team
Communications Technologies Group
The Communications Technologies (CT) Group, established at the end of 2005, is themed WM7F (Wireless/Mobile Miniaturized Multi-Mode Multi-Media Multi-Function). It aims at addressing key trends and opportunities in wireless communications, such as high data rate high spectral efficiency transmission/reception for broadband wireless communications, ubiquitous radio access and small form-factors for both sustaining and disruptive innovations.
Having identified the three key directions of mid-to-long-term advanced core technology developments in Practical MIMO, Reconfigurable OFDM Core and Miniaturization, CT addressed market needs and selected vehicles for short-term industrial impacts and differentiations.
The four categories of vehicles picked to convey core technology development or respond to immediate demands are: (1) Broadband Wireless: Mobile WiMAX and LTE with Practical MIMO core technology; (2) Digital Broadcast: Multimode mobile TV and DTMB with Reconfigurable OFDM Core technology; (3) Short Range Connectivity: CWPAN/Zigbee and UWB for vertical markets; and (4) RF & Antenna and Miniaturization, which are inescapable in all wireless devices and equipment.
CT also leverages core communications technologies and applies them in value-added applications such as medical equipment, eHealthcare and telemetry.
CT has achieved significant progress in technology innovation/dissemination, as well as in recruiting prominent leaders with extensive management track records from Hong Kong, the Mainland and United States. Most of the R&D leaders come from world-leading companies and thus bring in seasoned technologies and valuable experience.
On technical innovation, 20 patents, 16 by United States and 4 by the Mainland, have been granted to ASTRI due to technologies developed by CT. They included three by the USPTO only within 18 months due to their high quality.
CT achieved much progress in mobile WiMAX, Customizable WMS, Practical MIMO and TD-LTE, DTMB, Multimode Mobile TV, Antenna & RF, RFIC, Material & Miniaturization, MRI and MRE, impacting industry substantially.
Besides active and close partnerships with local universities, CT established ASTRI-Tsinghua University Multimedia Broadcast and Communication (MBC) Joint Lab to serve local and the Mainland’s digital TV industry. The Chinese Academy of Science, one of the largest R&D organizations on the Mainland, and CT are forming the “Advanced Wireless Technology Joint Research Centre” to develop LTE and IMT-Advanced wireless technologies. Furthermore, collaborations in TD-LTE with leading Mainland firms on China’s Science and Technology Key Programme, and with leading international companies have promoted ASTRI and Hong Kong to Mainland and global wireless communication communities.
Software & Systems Group
The Software & Systems (SNS) Group strives to create and expand Hong Kong’s core intellectual property (IP) focusing on three main technology areas, namely application software, embedded computing and cloud service computing, for development of enterprise and consumer software and systems. Within these technology areas, SNS has established core competences that follow industry technology trends, which include Rising User Experience Focus, Device Becoming Smart, Contents and Services - Personalized & Socialized, Sensors Everywhere, Holistic Security, and Intelligent Surveillance. These trends will drive and will have impact on the technology development of SNS in the next few years.
Based on the established core competences in the main technology areas, SNS over the last few years has acquired the relevant domain knowledge and developed four main vertical systems and relevant applications, covering education, infotainment, health, and safety. SNS will continue its expansion on the relevant research and development activities within the scope of each of the industry technology trends to maintain its leading position on core competences. The Group will also focus and strengthen its commercialization efforts on the four main vertical systems with relevant new applications under the Key Technology Initiative (KTI) programme structure.
IC Design Group
The global IC industry, despite the worldwide financial crisis and energy price fluctuations, showed significant growth in 2008 registering business turnover of US$262 billion, compared with US$215 billion in 2004.
In recent years, strategic and modern facilities have been built to manufacture ICs on the Mainland, and a great amount of work on the core technology has been done to sustain the continuous growth of the electronics and manufacturing industries.
The Mainland has already been transformed from a manufacturing base into a design and development base. It is foreseeable that its electronics industry will gradually acquire the capability to serve as IC-design bases in the next decade, and will further grow into innovation driven enterprise.
ASTRI's IC Design (ICD) Group is conducting applied R&D in IC design technologies to enhance the industry’s competitiveness, consolidate the technology foundation and sustain the IC design ecosystems in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta. R&D teams are combining their efforts to help the industry capture opportunities in the fast-growing global semiconductor and electronics markets, especially in Hong Kong, the Mainland and Taiwan.
ICD currently focuses on two major areas: Portable Analog and Mixed Signal Design (PAD) and Applied SoC Design (ASD). Among the various projects are power management ICs, high speed data communication ICs, low power data converters, integrated LED drivers/controllers, LCD display enhancement controllers, solid-state storage controller, common platform for IP qualification and Nanometer SoC design technologies. It is also developing expertise and technologies in semiconductor device modelling and advanced solar cell materials.
During the past year, ICD delivered services, consultation, IC prototypes, IC cores, IC design libraries and methodologies to its customers in Hong Kong and the Mainland, especially the Pearl River Delta. All these are important to their IC products and thereby enhance their competitiveness in global markets.
Sensing & Integration Group
Sensing & Integration (SI) Group (formerly Material & Packaging Technologies Group) specializes in market-driven solutions focusing on miniaturized sensing modules, advanced packaging solutions and integrated sub-systems for applications in intelligent display, wearable devices, Internet-of-Things, healthcare, power electronics, machine vision and Li-ion battery. To help its industry partners enhance competitive edge with patent protected solutions that can be brought to the market more quickly, SI offers reliable and proven solution platforms delivered by four key technology initiatives:
| Advanced Packaging Technologies | Display Systems | Healthcare Electronics | Green Energy
One major aim of SI is to create real economic impacts by transferring innovative market-driven application technologies and product-oriented patent portfolios to industries in Hong Kong, the Mainland and the region. In addition to helping its industry partners capture business opportunities and increase their competitive strengths, SI also collaborates closely with different industry groups and universities, leveraging on mutual strengths to continuously build its expertise and core technologies in the sensing and integration field.
After more than 8 years of development, SI has made remarkable achievements in terms of intellectual properties and technology commercialization. By the end of the 2013/14 fiscal year, a total of 250 invention patents have been granted from the US, the Chinese Mainland and Taiwan. These patented technologies were licensed 200 times to companies in Hong Kong and the Mainland and turned into actual applications. In commercialization, 130 companies have adopted SI’s technologies through 215 technology transfers, including one successful spin-off in 2010. By the end of March 2014 the Group has also won 28 technology awards internationally from the Mainland, Hong Kong, the US, Japan and Korea.