PolyU – THE Innovation & Impact Summit

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Live Report: PolyU – THE Innovation & Impact Summit - Conference Day 2

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 June, 2017, 9:46am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 June, 2017, 3:08pm

[Sponsored article] Welcome to the morning session of the second day of the two-day inaugural Times Higher Education (THE) Innovation & Impact Summit, at Hotel ICON, co-hosted by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and THE. Featuring keynote speeches and a series of thought-provoking panel discussions under the theme of "Powering Universities' Economic and Social Impact through Innovative Research and Teaching, the summit is a key celebratory event of PolyU's 80th anniversary.

World-class speakers include high-profile innovators, entrepreneurs and policy-makers including Charles Chen, Founder of the Yidan Prize and Core Founder of Tencent Holdings Limited; Hermann Hauser, Co-Founder of Amadeus Capital Partners; Candace Johnson, Founder/Co-Founder SES, Loral-Teleport Europe, Europe Online, VATM, GTWN, OWNSAT, Success Europe; Greg Simon, Former Executive Director, White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force and Nicholas Yang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology, HKSAR government. Other influential higher education figures to address the Summit include leaders of renowned institutions from Australia, England, Finland, France, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Singapore, Spain, the United States.



Reflecting on the two days of absorbing and informative keynote presentations and panel discussions, Timothy W. Tong, President, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University says the areas highlighted and discussed over the two days were wide and varied and highlighted the increasingly important role universities play in the wider community. "The hard work organising the event was worthwhile," says Tong. And on that highpoint, this concludes the two-day inaugural Times Higher Education (THE) Innovation & Impact Summit, at Hotel ICON, co-hosted by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and THE.



Continuing the focus on measuring the impact of universities, Billy Wong, Senior Data Scientist, Times Higher Education asks should measurement be based on single data or a raft of measurements. "If a university is involved in research that has a global impact it will obviously be a different type of measurement than a university producing research with a local impact," says Wong. Audience members are now asked to take 15 minutes to talk to each other as an interactive workshop about the various ways they think the impact that universities make should be measured.   

As the votes are gathered, Phil Baty moves around the room with a microphone asking audience members about their thoughts and suggestions. Suggestions range from teacher rankings, how quickly students pay off their debits once they graduate, student employability, how many students register massive open online courses, the number of students that moves into entrepreneurship (which also tends to attract fellow students from the same programme or university), and impact on society by students that graduate as engineers. An audience member raises the issue of confidentiality when applied research is licensed to a commercial organisation that benefits society, but the university receives no recognition. Another audience member asks how the impact on safety and the value to human life can be measured when a university research is applied for public well-being or public policy. Alison Lloyd from the PolyU suggests measuring the value to students engaged in social impact activities and how they feel about contributing to social impact.  

After adding up the votes, the number one area the audience decided the best method of performance indicator measuring the impact of universities is teaching.



Continuing the focus on measuring the impact of universities, Billy Wong, Senior Data Scientist, Times Higher Education asks should measurement be based on single data or a raft of measurements. "If a university is involved in research that has a global impact it will obviously be a different type of measurement than a university producing research with a local impact," says Wong. Audience members are now asked to take 10 minutes to talk to each other about the various ways they think the impact that universities make should be measured.



The panel discussion now moves to having access to and being able to understand performance data is essential for any university that wishes to succeed in its mission – but not all missions can be measured easily. How can universities operating in radically different environments compare and benchmark each other? An emphasis on improving elements that can be tracked might lead to neglect of some of the wider socio-economic aspects of a university’s impact. Times Higher Education, the global authority on university leadership and excellence, will bring together views from around the world for an open discussion on how new metrics can be developed to recognise social impact.



Arun Sharma, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Commercialisation), Queensland University of Technology asks should impact be measured by research or teaching?  "Obviously tax payers that fund universities want to see they are receiving a return on their investment, but it can be difficult measure the difference a policy paper makes on society compared to research collaboration with an industry partner," says Sharma, who believes a basket of metrics that can be subjected to a peer review process, could provide a solution. Sharma adds the Lens Influence Metric, which measures patents is another way of measuring impact and contribution in science.

Phil Baty, Editorial Director, Global Rankings, Times Higher Education invites the audience to use their mobile devices to vote for performance indicators to measure the impact made by universities. Audience members are asked to send a test vote using the country they come from to check the technology function which reveals there are more than 50 nationalities in the audience.



Angelina Yuen, Vice-President (Student and Global Affairs), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University says the social impact of in-service learning in higher education only forms a small part of rankings measurements, however, within universities, it has become a vital part of the value proposition. "Rankings have become as important, and without social impact as a significant part of the rankings; universities might be driven in another direction," noted Yuen, who explains at the PolyU, service-learning is mandatory and credit bearing; therefore, it has been established with academic rigor. Yuen uses the example of tourism and engineering.  Students help to set up bed and breakfast operations in China and installed lighting in a village in Cambodia. Meanwhile, optometry students offer eye check-ups. "We have more than 60 in-service learning programmes involving about 4,000 students," informs Yuen. "When they graduate, we want our students to be socially responsible and if they become entrepreneurs, be entrepreneurs with a heart," says Yuen. She adds the PolyU gas set up a USRN network of leading universities around the world who share and promote the concept of global social reasonability and best practices.



A complete change of topic, a panel discussion and examination of universities, their impact and how impact is measured. Chaired by Phil Baty, Editorial Director, Global Rankings, Times Higher Education, panel members include Arun Sharma, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Commercialisation), Queensland University of Technology, Lluis Tort, Former President/Vice-Rector for Strategic Projects and Planning, European Consortium of Innovation Universities/Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and Angelina Yuen, Vice-President (Student and Global Affairs), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Introducing details about the aims of European Consortium of Innovation Universities, Lluis Tort says the goal is to collaborate and share innovative ideas. "Similar to the PolyU, some of our member universities have in-service programmes, which require students to work in the local community where they learn social skills and deliver impact," Tort says. Other ways of measuring the impact of consortium universities include employment, knowledge transfer, collaboration on projects, joint development, public and private projects and benefits to industry through R&D.

Anders Karlsson, Elsevier Vice-President, Strategic Alliances and Global Academic Relations, Asia Pacific says in addition to providing talent, universities. "A golden rule when measuring impact, always use more than one metric as the quantitative input," says Karlsson who explains how citations, usage, social media and mentions can be used to measure the impact of universities.



Emphasising why cancer research is important, Simon says every discovery provides a benefit to someone somewhere. He then describes how a personal friend suffering from brain cancer lived nine months longer than would previously possible because of research findings. "She was able to see her children grow that little bit more so they would remember her," says Simon. "I believe what we are doing leads to a burst of innovation that will change the lives of millions all over the world," says Simon, who fears the multinational nature of research will be affected by some of the policies coming from the US White House. "We have the means to do clinical trials and patients want these trials conducted and shared," notes Simon.

Answering a question about university tenure, Simon says tenure could be made more effective if collaboration was an integral part of the tenure concept. "This could change the idea of professors working in their offices writing papers that don't lead anywhere," says Simon. "In medical research, too often it is kept secret for too long, but we know what can achieved when research is shared," says Simon.



Simon continues and explains how the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force involved putting teams together that had never previously worked together previously. The Task Force also tapped into NASA's radiation research used to plan a Mars space journey. The Task Force also tapped into IBM Watson and top-of-the-range cancer sequencing and profiling facilities. As a result of a data base being established last year, researchers around the world involved in cancer research have accessed the information more than 80 million times. "That's 80 million questions that were not being asked previously," says Simon. "Innovation is not always doing something new, it can be taking what's there and rearranging it," says Simon. "It was a matter of getting people to share data," adds Simon, who says health related data is still the hardest data to share. "Our mission is to take data from clinical trials and elsewhere and use it in a better way through sharing it," Simon says. "This is innovation!"



Refuelled and refreshed following lunch, the afternoon session begins with a keynote presentation "Walking on the moon: reflections on the future of cancer" delivered by Greg Simon. Former executive director, White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force. Greg Simon took up his role at the White House, within the office of the Vice-President, in March 2016, having previously served there as Former Vice-President Al Gore’s chief domestic policy adviser between 1993 and 1997. Former roles also include Chief Executive of the financial firm Poliwogg Holdings and Senior Vice-President of Worldwide Policy at Pfizer.

A key aim of Cancer Moonshot  is to accelerate cancer research to make more therapies available to more patients, while also improving the ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage. Simon says the initiative was brought about to clear the hurdles and let science happen before saying the US under the present administration science research and innovation is under pressure. Simon the gives examples of discoveries in health and science driven by necessity. "Kennedy's moonshot endeavour was driven by the desire to benefit mankind," says Simon, who adds the Moonshot on cancer is not a declaration of war on cancer, it is an attempt to end the war. Simon now explains how research is being changed to achieve in five years what was thought could be achieved in 10 years. "It can be done," says Simon but we need to change the culture of innovation to take risks, "If you have an idea, but don't start, it's not innovation," he says revealing how he has personally undergone cancer treatment. Outlining how the Cancer Moonshot  programme developed, Simon says it took a change of mind-set to drive the desire to  shorten the research time and double the impact.



Biot continues his presentation offering his views on the need for students to interact with the leaders that are likely to employ. "They need to know the skills employers look for and learn how the job market will change over the next few years, says Biot. He adds the influence of alumni can be worthwhile in sharing leadership skills. Within universities, Biot says faculty plays an important role in building leadership skills. "Good faculty attracts good students, and good students attract good faculty," observes Biot, who says modesty is an important part of leadership. Answering an audience question on a comment made by President Emmanuel Macron that people feeling oppressed in the US would be welcome in France, Biot says he is not in a position to comment on the thoughts of the French president, however, in the case of students and faculty, he would continue to follow the concept of faculty and students being applicable and the right fit at Ecole Polytechnique. Answering another question about openness and collaboration within universities, Biot explains at Ecole Polytechnique a variety of methods to encourage collaboration, such as promoting the need for out-of-the-box thinking.  

Fresh after the announcement of the US withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement, Biot says Ecole Polytechnique has a lot of data and research available relating to climate change. The topic moves to the topic of charisma, which Biot believes is important for those at the forefront of knowledge promotion, including using charisma to explain some of the less well-known areas of science research. "There is always the need to maintain integrity, but an explanation with a clear line is usually helpful," says Biot. With no more questions coming from the audience, the summit adjourns for lunch.



With the aroma of coffee still floating in the air of the Hotel Icon ballroom, Jacques Biot, President, Ecole Polytechnique steps up to the podium to deliver his presentation on "empowering future leaders", a topic that has run through previous presentations and panel discussions yesterday and this morning. "What better place to start than to acknowledge how France recently chose a bright, inspiring, charismatic person to lead the country," says Biot which raises an approving laugh from the audience. 

Biot continues by saying the world is experiencing interesting times as it faces geo-political issues, war and climate change. "This is the world our students will graduate into so we need to prepare them," says Biot who adds that while creating environments for innovation is necessary, disruptive business models and technology requires preparing students with leadership qualities to thrive in a changing world. "We have to be very disciplinary, says Biot, citing the PolyU as a good example of a university that is preparing students for the future. "If we teach students about engineering we also need to teach them about public policy, because few things are developed in isolation," says Biot. "We need to teach them the skills that complement all areas of learning," says Biot, who for the past 10 years has been a member of the scientific and technical commission of the Corps des Mines. Prior to his current role as President of École Polytechnique in Paris, Biot was Founder and President of Strategic Consulting firm JNBD, and also served as an Independent Director and Vice-President of Guerbet Laboratories.



The panel are asked for their views about graduates that don't look for a job as soon as they graduate university. Fung says the models of education offered today could be off-putting for some young people. "The idea of preparing students for a career that could last 40 years needs to be reviewed," he says. With the idea that people will have lots of careers in the future, the concept of learning in short bursts and using knowledge and experience to move to the next level could be more attractive. 

"Is it worth reviewing the three- or four-year degree programme?" asks Potts. Koshland responds by saying three- or four-year degree programmes allow students to travel overseas for experience and the experience gained by being in a university setting for a period of time. "We looked at reducing the programme duration, but it was hotly rejected by our students," says Koshland, who reveals a concern for Berkley, which has a high percentage of overseas students, is whether students coming from certain countries will be issued with visas in time for the new semester.



Chan asks panel members about Asian culture and perception of education. "In Asia, there is still a feeling or sense of fear among many parents of their children not having a secure career in a traditional sector," notes Fung, who adds that social economic status plays a big influence in education and studies that individual's follow.

Koshland says at Berkley there is a drive to encourage inter-disciplinary study. "We have made a big effort to encourage inter-disciplinary study, by offering short programmes, for example, pathways to gain an accountancy degree," says Koshland.

Meanwhile, Potts observes, many of the universities are offering programmes that are not keeping pace with the demands of a fast-changing globalised environment. Potts says an area where she notices a gap in South East Asia is among those that can afford to travel overseas to study and gain soft skills and those that study in their own country. "We have set up courses to help students understand their own communities and country by having them work hands-on, on social projects, which helps to give these students new skills," says Potts.



Catherine Koshland, Vice-Chancellor for Undergraduate Education, University of California, Berkeley says a key goal at Berkley is to prepare students with full-life learning by equipping them with the skills to embrace life-long learning. "We want people to be responsible for their own learning, and there is not one way to solve a problem," Koshland says. "We want to give them a lens to see the world with different perspectives and be citizens of the world."

Koshland says Berkley is also pioneering curriculum innovation by offering connector courses, which allows students to combine different areas of study in ways that have not been done before. She gives the example of an engineering undergraduate student partnering with graduate chemistry students to cross-fertilise learning and ideas. "It is a way of building collaboration and entrepreneurial spirit," says Koshland.

Michelle Potts, Business Director, Education and Society, South Asia, British Council now takes the podium and begins her presentation by saying it is important to have education systems in Asia to support the jibs and needs of the future. "In many countries in Asia there is only about four percent GDP spent on education support," Potts says. "This is very low."

With millions of young people entering the job market across Asia over the next decade, Potts says there is the opportunity to harness a powerful potential, or face the consequences of a disenfranchised youth. Pott's raises the question of whether influence from parents for their children to join traditional professions where they might not be happy, or the jobs may not exist in a few years. "There are skills gaps in the technical skills, but it is soft-skills such as the ability to work in teams and communicate where big gaps exist. "It's time for Asia to step up to the challenge," says Potts.



With chairs rearranged on stage, preparation is being made for a panel discussion examining the graduate skills gap and whether it is it real. Chaired by Tony F. Chan, President, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology fellow panel members include Michael Fung, Group Director and Chief Data Officer, Planning Group, SkillsFuture, Singapore, Catherine Koshland, Vice-Chancellor for Undergraduate Education, University of California, Berkeley, Michelle Potts, Business Director, Education and Society, South Asia, British Council.

Chan begins by saying it is important to define what graduate skills mean. "It could be technical or soft-skills, but what we should be asking, is there really a skills gap?" says Chan. "Is it a case of employers setting the goal posts and expecting universities to train students to meet the expected results?" he asks. Chan then gives the scenario of having people trained, behaving and reacting in the same way, which could result in a lack of diversity. Chan now poses the question of whether universities should be job training academies.

Fung explains how SkillsFuture, focus on helping people to be employable and employability. A main function, says Fung is to look at ways to replace skills likely to become obsolete. "There are troubling statistics in Singapore where we have seen unemployment rise from 3.5 to 4.3 percent in one year," notes Fung. There is also the question of in a fast changing market, whether a four-year university programme means graduates leave university without the skills they need. Compounding the issue, Fung says is more young people in Singapore and across Asia attending university and graduating with expectations of a good job and high salary. To address the issue, Fung says SkillsFuture is looking at offer bite-sized learning tuned to the needs of individuals and the market.



The first Q&A question is whether or not AI would have spotted Lane Fox as a serial entrepreneur; he replies he has some of the traits that would have been identified. He also answers a question about whether a university education is necessary. "I would say while lots of space in the media is given to people that drop out of university becoming successful, but when you look at the broad base of analysis, a university education is certainly helpful," says Lane Fox. He adds that he believes universities play a key role in helping people to think in different ways. At the Founders Factory, Lane Fox says there is no criteria placed on the level or type of education for those invited to join, are required to have achieved. "There are lots of different aspects and make up to being an entrepreneur," says Lane Fox. "Being a successful entrepreneur also requires bringing a team together, but there are so many nuances in what goes into making a great team, it could be another five or six years before we have the insights we are looking for," Lane Fox says he is convinced in 10 years AI will be the main source of recruitment.



Lane Fox elaborates on how AI brought together 100 people with technology backgrounds who didn't know each other at a party held in London. "It was one of the most bizarre days of my life," says Lane Fox. "There was an unbelievable energy in the room and a desire to start businesses," adds Lane Fox. Importantly he says, about 40 per cent of the attendees were female. "This was a wonderful result for the technology which is woefully short of females," says Lane Fox. He says momentum for the Founders Factory activities is also supported by the commitment of "incredible" help from CEOs and various business leaders. Lane Fox now explains how it is difficult to spot soft-skills with AI. "We believe that most successful entrepreneurs have a flaw in their character, but how do you spot that with AI?" questions Lane Fox. "We are working with large HR companies and universities to see if they can help us find a solution," Lane Fox says. It also requires complicated algorithms to see how an entrepreneur might flourish in different situations. "I don't think entrepreneurs can be made from scratch, but I do think those who have the talent can be nudged in the right direction says Lane Fox.



With the topic of artificial intelligence (AI), its possibilities and impact increasingly on the minds of many people, to begin the morning session, Henry Lane Fox, Co-Founder and CEO, Founders Factory, which supports and advises technology start-ups, will provide insights about identifying talent with AI. The serial entrepreneur begins by saying the Founders Factory is in the process of helping 200 start-ups, covering different sectors to get going over the next two years. "We can couple the start-ups with our very influential investors and create a new audience for them," says Lane Fox. "We create the magic by bringing 30 or people in house at one time," says Lane Fox before adding it will be difficult to measure success for six or seven years. Fox Lane says there is a requirement to scale up start-ups quickly. He reveals this will require finding about 1,000 experienced business and finance entrepreneurs to support the start-ups over the next couple of years. The heavy requirement, he says, led to looking at AI to see if it could spot people with entrepreneurial talent. "We reversed engineered what drives the entrepreneurial spirit of our Founders Factory," explains Lane Fox, who adds AI was used to but a database from scouring the Web.