PolyU announces the establishment of Jockey Club Design Institute for Social Innovation

Backed by strong support from The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) Charities Trust, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has brought together multi-disciplinary expertise for the establishment of Hong Kong's first Design Institute for Social Innovation.

The new establishment will be called the "Jockey Club Design Institute for Social Innovation" (JCDISI). The announcement ceremony for this pioneering project was held today (17 January) on the university campus, with HKJC Chairman Mr T. Brian Stevenson; PolyU Council Chairman the Honourable Ms Marjorie Yang Mun-tak; and PolyU President Professor Timothy W. Tong officiating at the event.

Addressing the ceremony, Professor Tong said the establishment of JCDISI is one of the major events for PolyU's 75th Anniversary celebrations. He is pleased to note that JCDISI will be housed together with PolyU School of Design in the Jockey Club Innovation Tower. The 15-storey Tower is also the first permanent architecture by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid in Hong Kong.

The construction of the Innovation Tower was approved by the Government in 2009, and PolyU is required to raise one-quarter of the construction cost to cover the enhanced features. In 2010, the HKJC Charities Trust kindly approved a donation of $249 million to support the Jockey Club Innovation Tower project and the set up of JCDISI.

"This is the largest single donation ever received by the University since its establishment in 1937. We are truly grateful for the Jockey Club for their generous support to this project as well as many other initiatives undertaken by PolyU over the years," said Professor Tong.

"We believe the Institute will provide a springboard for community education and training; foster student learning and help nurture a new generation of design professionals who are not only innovative but also socially conscious," said Mr T. Brian Stevenson, Chairman of The Hong Kong Jockey Club.

JCDISI will serve as a platform to facilitate the development of promising design ideas with social innovative elements in local higher education institutions. It is set to become a "third space" in the Hong Kong design landscape, bridging between academia and business, for the development and commercialisation of innovative multi-disciplinary design products, and the promulgation of best practices in design innovation for social goods.

Professor Cees de Bont, Dean-designate for PolyU School of Design, remarked, "The School is home to many internationally-renowned designers, and I am delighted to see the development of Innovation Tower designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid and the establishment of the Design Institute for Social Innovation. The building will definitely become a landmark and strengthen Hong Kong's status as a design hub, and the Institute will help us chart new course in advocating design for social goods."

The work of JCDISI will be grouped under four strategic themes that reflect the core competences of the School of Design. These are: (1) Service Design; (2) Sustainable Environment; (3) Holistic Health; and (4) Adolescent and Family Development. The four themes focus on critical emerging social needs in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta Region.

JCDISI also plans to host an annual event titled Design for Social Innovation Festival after it comes into full operation. This event will provide a creative platform for local, regional and international members of the design community to exchange on topics related to design for social innovation.

JCDISI will become an integral part of PolyU School of Design and further drive the development of Hong Kong as an international design hub. The Innovation Tower construction is now in full swing and is expected to be completed in mid 2013.