An E-Business Technology Institute at the University of Hong Kong will help promote technology development and train professionals to make the SAR a real IT hub. The HKU and IBM China/Hong Kong partnership have agreed to start the first stage of the project on a two-year term from this new academic year. With the aim of fostering an environment for e-business technology and research applications and development, it mobilises the exchange of knowledge and technology transfer between academics and trade and industry. Dr Tan Chung-jen, leader of the IBM team which created supercomputer Deep Blue, will head the institute. The supercomputer triumphed over world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. The institute will employ 10 to 20 full-time computer scientists who will tackle research problems in the areas of e-commerce and on-line shopping. Dr Tan said the team had identified possible focus areas on e-business policy studies, information security, supply chain manage ment, data mining and language translation on the Internet. The centre will work on a series of e-business technology applications for banking, finance, education sections and small and medium- sized enterprises. E-business will help organisations connect critical business systems directly to customers, employees, vendors and suppliers through the Web. 'We are hoping to focus on Hong Kong and the mainland to help developing practical e-business solutions for specific market needs and conduct basic research into the necessary technologies and policies,' he said. 'Emphasis will be put on the training ground for skilled and knowledgeable IT professionals for Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region.' Dr Tan said the centre not only benefited the university but also the SAR when local professionals worked closely with the IBM labs in New York, Tokyo and Beijing. Asked whether the institute would set up funds to help students establish e-businesses, Professor Cheng Yiu-chung, HKU vice-chancellor, said the university had rejected the idea for the already tight school budget.