At least six business organisations in the United States have been contacted by the University of Science and Technology for sponsorship, newly appointed president Paul Chu Ching-wu said yesterday. Professor Chu, who replaced founding president Woo Chia-wei two months ago, said the university needed more funds to strengthen its research programmes in order to provide Hong Kong with hi-tech support. Greeting freshmen at a welcoming ceremony, he said he had chosen to collaborate with US business organisations as he was familiar with them. 'Government funding is not comparable to postgraduate schools in the US. I would say the same amount is only sufficient to develop associate degree programmes there,' he said. 'Besides financial resources, I am also inviting these companies to set up branches in Hong Kong. They would be allowed to use our facilities and expertise.' However, he refused to disclose the names of the corporations or the amount of money he was trying to raise. Total grants for the university dropped from $1.6 billion in 1998 to $1.5 billion in 1999. Last year, it received $1.3 billion. Fanny Law Mun-li, 19, a second-year economics student, said Professor Chu was very approachable. 'Professor Chu sometimes dines in the student canteen. We once talked about turning the university into Asia's Massachusetts Institute of Technology,' she said. German Cheung, 18, a first-year business student, believed Professor Chu could help promote the university but felt his ideas were a bit too ambitious.