PolyU students excel in designing social innovations

Young talents from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU)’s School of Design (SD) have shown their creativity and prowess in social innovations. Two student teams have recently won the championship at the 2011 Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge (HKSEC); and fresh graduate Miss Winnie Ngai Si-man also won the Asia Social Innovation Award in the multi-media category for her final-year project.

Professor Cees de Bont, Director of PolyU School of Design, congratulated the winners on their astounding success. He said SD is determined to nurture creativity of students and foster new ideas for social innovations, with the newly established Jockey Club Design Institute for Social Innovation at its hub.

This year, the championship for HKSEC was shared by two teams of university students who have done equally well in the competition. The winning teams have outsmarted over 180 teams from 22 institutions across the territory. They are:

Professor Cees de Bont, Dean of School of Design (middle), attended the press briefing today (30 March) with the award recipients and advisors.
(From left) Oops! team advisor Mr Patrick Chan, team members Wong Ka Ki, Irix Leung, Joyce Chu; Woof project team Anita Lam, Margaret Lok; Beecycle's designer Winnie Ngai; and Woof's advisor Mr Remi Leclerc.

(1) Woof

Team Leader: Anita Lam Mun-yee (PolyU SD)
Members: Amy Chan Hiu-nam (HK Baptist University); Margaret Lok (PolyU SD)
Adviser: Mr Rémi Leclerc, Assistant Professor, PolyU SD

The team came up with the idea of using Chiengora – animal fibres from doggies – for making fashion and accessories. They proposed to set up a social enterprise called Woof and through this new initiative, they hope to raise human compassion and empathy and change their attitudes towards animals. Through its Wooferine canine animal welfare educational projects, Woof also intended to raise awareness among the public of the plight of animals, and the importance to have respect for all kinds of life.

Chiengora is artistically smooth and silky and it can be blended with fibres. It is warmer than wool and waterproof, and has been test scientifically. Some pet groomers also supported the team by providing dog hair for free. The students have also explored collaboration with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


(2) Oops!

Team Leader: Joyce Chu Yin-chi
Members: Keziah Law Ka-pui, Irix Leung Cheuk-nga, Wong Ka-ki
Adviser: Mr Patrick Chan Kai-ching

Although the interior design industry is flourishing in our city, it is also creating unnecessary wastage of building materials such as tiles, paint and wood. It is estimated that an additional 10 percent of extra materials are ordered as a contingency arrangement for the construction project. Against this backdrop, the team members formed the group Oops! and proposed to transfer surplus and wasted building materials from the interior design industry. The materials can be used by visual arts students in secondary schools for creative purpose. Through this mechanism, they hope not only to reduce wastage from the industry, but also set the trend for Hong Kong’s creative industry on social innovation.


At the regional level, Miss Winnie Ngai Si-man won the Asia Social Innovation Award – Best Multi-media Award for her final-year project “Beecycle”. This project aims to promote communal activity and bring positive contribution to the living environment. “Beecycle” is not just a public bicycle sharing concept – it is also a collective action for the benefit of our living environment. In the act of cycling, electricity is generated from kinetic energy and it can be used as a charging tool for mobile phones or mp3 players, etc. Moreover, the residual electricity could be stored and transferred to a central panel for sharing.

Miss Winnie Ngai and her award certificates

The organizer for Asia Social Innovation Award received more than 270 entries for the competition. Winnie received a trophy and HK$2,000 cash prize for her innovative idea. As for HKSEC awards, each member of the winning teams received an incubation cash prize of around HK$50,000. The social venture business plan competition was organized by the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The winning teams are now raising funds through PolyU Micro Fund Scheme and other sources to turn their innovative ideas into reality.