Hong Kong University of Science and Technology announced plans yesterday to build an Institute for Advanced Study in order to develop itself into one of the world's leading intellectual centres. University president Paul Chu Ching-wu said now was the right time to set up a centre to create knowledge and thought contributing to the scientific, economic and social development of greater China. 'Hong Kong is the window to China, an open society that can easily attract talents. Improvements in its tertiary education in the past 15 years have produced a pool of quality academics,' he said. The institute would focus on research in various areas, including nanoscience and nanotechnology, biological sciences and biotechnology, information technology, and the environment and sustainable development. Professor Chu said 10 permanent faculty members would be recruited from abroad. The university had approached a specialist in biotechnology, an expert in information technology who was also an entrepreneur, and a Nobel Laureate in medicine, he said. Twenty visiting scholars would be invited to join the institute for between six months and two years, while 40 local academics and 60 postdoctoral fellows would also be taken on board, he added. The institute will be housed on the site of the former Shaw Studio next to the university, with construction due to be completed by 2011, at a cost of $200 million. Professor Chu said HKUST would need to raise $1 billion as an endowment to run the institute. So far, it had raised $60 million. The institute's inaugural lecture would be delivered by world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking on June 15. The institute would also offer teaching and outreach programmes, including courses for undergraduates and postgraduates, mentorship and internships for gifted undergraduates, and lectures for secondary students, teachers and the public.